By Anele Gcwabe
When he started the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ (ACD) training programme in 2018, Lwazi Mase was already a member of the Namakwa Youth Business Chamber and he was doing volunteer work at the Naledi Youth Service Centre. He had his hands full with community work and helping the youth in his community. However, it was only after he finished his ACD training that he realised his skills as an entrepreneur and decided to do more than was expected of him.
After evaluating the needs of his community, he saw a gap in the field of entrepreneurship. Not a lot of young people owned businesses- those that do, don’t have the knowledge and the skills that are necessary to keep them operating for a long time. Mase vowed to help these young people. He used his own experiences and struggles as inspiration to start this initiative.
The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme helped Mase to appreciate the power of connections and knowing the right people- and most importantly- using those connections to one’s positive advantage. He used his connections at the Namakwa Youth Business Chamber to assist the young people in his community establish and run their own businesses. He has partnered with local partners such as De Beers, Social Development, Ritchersveld Naledi Youth Center and Youth Against Crime, in this endeavour.
Mase is now the chairperson of the Namakwa Youth Business Chamber and he is active in his effort to see more young people own legal and registered businesses. He lives in a very rural area where people have to travel far to get their businesses registered. Mase tries to make the process less painful for the young people in his community. He has worked with the National Empowerment Fund, National Youth Development Agency and local SEDA office to assist with accessing the youth in community work, and to shape their skills.
This young man from Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape hopes to assist and see more start- up businesses become established and contribute to the economy the country. Mase says that it is important for every entrepreneur to be focused on their goal and have their systems in place from the beginning. Start-ups need to understand the value of understanding the finances of his company and having the paperwork need up to date from the start. “You have to be able to created connections wherever you go”, says Mase, “and people should always be able to get hold of you when they need you”, he adds.
“The covid-19 lockdown has put a lot of things on pause”, says Mase. Before we had to go on lockdown, Mase was looking to expand his initiative. Lockdown came at a time where Mase was going to strengthen his work and learn more about his industry and his area. But this forced break has not stopped Mase form getting new ideas. He reckons that the novel coronavirus will be around for a while and we might be on lockdown for some time too. He wants to be a part of raising awareness. Mase has identified a few old buildings, in his community, that he wants to paint and make colourful. This will be his way of raising awareness around Covid-19 in his community.