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 NGOs should start to think like a business

2015-08-11 00:00
Released by MediaVision on behalf of USB-ED
Impumelelo Think Tank.jpgRobin Opperman from UMCEBO design with Dr Rhoda Kadalie

Non-Profit Organisations should start thinking like a business and to generate their own sustainable income in their quest to have a broader social impact and to create jobs for the poor. They should not rely only on the kind-heartedness of donors, as that only increases their vulnerability.

Unemployment is one of South Africa’s biggest challenges. With more than 50% of the unemployed young people, the country can no longer rely on the private and public sectors as the only conduits to jobs.

Civil society and NGOs play an important role in preparing young people for the world of work with onerous tasks like skills development, mentoring and coaching, and training in business practices. These are essential preparations to make youth employable.

This was the key message at a Think Tank on Job Creation recently hosted by Impumelelo: Stellenbosch Academy for Social Innovation in conjunction with USB Executive Development’s ​ Centre for Applied Entrepreneurship in Cape Town.

The centre is one of the USB Executive Development’s (USB-ED) Centres of Excellence and follows a partnership that was formed earlier this year between USB-ED, the public executive development and training company of the University of Stellenbosch Business School and Impumelelo: Stellenbosch Academy for Social Innovation.

Impumelelo job creation projects shared their methodologies, knowledge, and stories about how they created jobs, the regulatory hurdles they needed to confront, and the multiple strategies used to procure funding from a variety of sources at the Think Tank.

The projects that showcased their work were Lawhill Maritime Academy, Go for Gold, Learn to Earn, Khayelitsha Cookies, Umcebo, CCDI, Hubspace Khayelitsha, Iyesa Express, Fetola, Fit for Life/Fit for Work, Thembani, Amadlelo, Salesian, Ikamva Youth, Ishishini Lethu Development Centre and Tembeka.

impumelelo think Tank 2.jpg
Melilizwe Gqobo from Hubspace Khayelitsha doing his presentation at the event.

Central to the Think Tank was that the unemployment rate in SA remains tenaciously high at about 26%, not least because of the failure of the education system to prepare young people for the world of work.

Through Impumelelo’s Awards programme it was however discovered that there is a range of job creation projects that have in various ways created work opportunities for the country’s marginalised.

According to Rhoda Kadalie, executive director of the academy, the numbers of jobs created by these projects are not insignificant, but taking them to scale needs thinking outside the box. Donor dependency is no longer a good strategy for sustainability.

“It seems that NGOs are always ignored when job creation is discussed and the perception is that it is only the private and public sector that can do it. They hardly think of partnerships with NGOs and how effective it can contribute to the creation of jobs.”

They do not realise that a lot of time and effort is spend by NGO’s on mentoring and coaching young people to become employable – time that the private and public sector do not always have.

“People will be amazed by how much our Awards programme has grown over the last few years. Thousands of jobs were created in this way.

“We are now at the point where NGOs have to think how to become more investor friendly and for investors to understand the concept of a social return on investment. It is not something that is instant, it takes time to generate and can ultimately be extremely rewarding,” Kadalie said.

Director of the Centre for Applied Entrepreneurship, DeWet Schoeman, said NGOs will have to start thinking more like a business. This is where USB-ED and the Centre for Applied Entrepreneurship see itself playing an important role.

“Our aim is to help NGOs to develop a business model for creating a sustainable income stream and not to only rely on donors. Many NGOs can be self-sustaining if business skills are applied to provide products or services that can generate a sustainable income for the NGO to fund its activities in a sustainable way.

“All NGOs have a ‘kind heart’, but do not always think of sustainable profitability. If their core activities cannot be provided in a profitable way, they should look for supplementary business related activities that can help to generate profit for them to plough back into the NGO to fund its core undertakings,” DeWet said.

For more information contact Rhoda Kadalie on ​or 021 918 4394.

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