Umsobomvu Youth Fund


5 September 2003

Creating jobs and developing skills among young South Africans are the main aims of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, which has spent about R470-million on 61 projects over the past two years.

Umsobomvu is a Nguni word that means “a rising dawn”. The fund was established in January 2001 with a mandate to create a platform for job creation, skills development and transfer for South Africa’s young people.

The fund’s activities are spread across three programmes.

  • Contact, information and counselling – allocated R200-million.
  • Skills development and transfer – allocated R300-million.
  • The youth entrepreneurship programme – allocated R500-million.
Website, call centre – The Fund’s website and call centre provide young people with information and services relating to careers, employment, entrepreneurship, health and well being.

Over the past two years, the organisation has been building infrastructure, refining policies and implementing pilot programmes and methodologies.

The fund believes it cannot solve youth unemployment alone, but it is confident that its carefully chosen programme models and partnerships with the private sector, government and other key stakeholders will make significant inroads in tackling one of South Africa’s major challenges.

Skills development & transfer
To this end, the fund has two major programmes that form part of its skills development and transfer programme:

  • School to Work is designed to transfer high-level technical skills and to facilitate work experience for unemployed matric and tertiary graduates. It also aims to introduce black youth into previously inaccessible careers, such as IT and accounting.
  • Youth Service focuses on unemployed youth who have no tertiary education, enabling them to acquire the skills, competencies and experience they require to achieve economic independence. This is done through a structured learning programme and accredited through a SETA.

Contact, information & counselling
The contact, information and counselling programme should reach more than 730 000 young people over the next three years. This programme offers information and counselling support regarding career development, employment and entrepreneurship through a youth line, advisory centres and an Internet portal.

The fund estimates that 540 000 young people will use the youth line and Internet portal over the next three years, while it anticipates more than 180 000 young people will visit the advisory centres that will be located around South Africa.

The first 12 of 33 planned advisory centres have already opened in the provinces of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape, North West, and Western Cape.

Youth entrepreneurship
The youth entrepreneurship Programme has three major projects:

  • Enterprise funding.
  • Micro-finance.
  • Business development services.

An estimated 700 SMMEs and 3 640 micro-enterprises will benefit from these projects over the next three years, and approximately 17 000 jobs are expected to be created.

Enterprise funding recently launched the FNB-Momentum-UYF Progress Fund, which complements the Franchise Fund, launched in partnership with business partners.

Micro-finance is focused on entry-level investments, and its pilot projects with the Nations Trust and Nicro Enterprise Finance are funding micro-enterprises and co-operatives.

The business development services voucher programme helps young entrepreneurs to access quality business support from approved service providers through vouchers, ranging in value from R1 500 to R23 000.

The Take it to the People project was launched recently to create locally based economic opportunities for young people. The project focuses on income-generation and self-employment for young people living in 21 urban and rural areas identified as significant “poverty pockets”.

The project aims to developlocal solutions to unemployment by investigating options for youth development in the form of micro and small businesses and co-operatives. It will work in conjunction with local municipalities and donors.

Malose Kekana is chief executive of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund