By Kagiso Bonoko
The challenges faced by the youth in South Africa are numerous and contribute to the high unemployment rate. These include inadequate skills and education, structural economic issues, limited work experience, Inequality and discrimination and high competition.
The South African economy faces structural challenges such as limited job creation, a mismatch between skills demanded by the market and those possessed by job seekers, and a lack of investment in labour-intensive industries.
Socioeconomic inequality, as well as discrimination based on race, gender, and class, also contribute to the challenges faced by the youth in accessing employment opportunities. As does a large number of job seekers and limited job opportunities, which contribute to intense competition for available positions and making it harder for young people to secure employment.
Despite these challenges, some youths have grabbed the bull by the horn, and made it in the job market and business world against all odds. One of them, Lufuno Netshithuthuni, is the founder of an award-winning, locally manufactured traditional fashion brand called Funo Designs. She says her brand, which hails from a small village in the Venda area of Limpopo, offers unique products.
“We basically specialise in creating unique, innovative, and modern traditional attire and shoes for women from all cultural backgrounds who love cultural fashion. We are a team of five (5), none of my employees is permanent yet as I’m still trying to build and stabilize the business,” says Netshithuthuni.
Of all her products, she says, her traditional shoes, known as Funo Designs’ shoe, is a hit with customers. The story behind the traditional shoes began in 2019 when Netshithuthuni and her family hosted a traditional event. On that day she needed a pair of traditional shoes that had a cultural theme, to match her traditional attire.
When she could not find anything suitable from the local town, she decided to buy raw materials to create her own shoes. The young entrepreneur then designed and created two pairs of shoes, for herself and her sister. Compliments and inquiries about the shoes flocked to her social media posts, with people wanting to find out where they bought them.
This was how Funo Designs was born. She had unknowingly identified a gap in the market,
and grabbed a business opportunity.
Years after the business was officially established, Funo Designs became a member of Proudly South Africa. This was a good opportunity for the business because it gave it a bigger platform to showcase its products.
“The Buy Local Summit was a big stage where we could showcase Funo Design products. It was impressive to see the hunger that other entrepreneurs also have in there,” Netshithuthuni explained. “I was really impressed at the number of people that want to work for themselves out there, people really want to be masters of their own destiny, and also to create employment for others. They are very creative, and they are also willing to share ideas. I got the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and developed business relationships that were not going to be possible without this Summit.”
She says she is amazed by the number of existing opportunities for the youths. “Growing up we were always told to go to university after completing Matric and pursue certain careers. I am in no way encouraging others not to go to school, school is good; it really is, what I want to emphasize is that there are alternative business opportunities out there. Opportunities that one can create for themselves and not necessarily wait for someone else to create them. For instance, I studied nature conservation, and what I am busy doing right now is very far from what I studied. People need to be more creative beyond their career paths. The internet has made it easy for one to gather information, you don’t even need a computer; you can use your phone.”
The government can do more to raise awareness about opportunities, Netshithuthuni maintains.
“I honestly think that the government need to do more in raising awareness and share more information about available opportunities that can help self-starters like me. Rural areas are still at a disadvantage because there are so many skilled people with a lot of talents and gifts, but have limited access to information, especially information around free business courses and business funding,” concluded Netshithuthuni, who plans to expand into other parts of the country.
For Funo Designs product catalogue visit www.funodesigns.co.za