Creating wealth among South Africa's poor: iLIVE
One of the best things I ever did was spend the royalties I received from my first novel on sending a matriculant to the teachers' training college in Eshowe.
Themba Nguni told me he couldn't believe how good the Afrikaner lecturers were to the students, treating them as if they were their own sons. Themba had been born out of wedlock and didn't have a father. So he adopted me as his father.
He became a high school teacher in Newcastle, used his salary to enrol at UNISA and majored in maths and science.
Just shows what willing people can achieve if given the opportunity.
Can we do it again, this time for our five million unemployed eighteen to thirty year olds?
Yes, of course.
I’m thinking entrepreneurs, not workers. Competing for money already being spent. Entering South Africa’s consumer market. Focusing on local consumers.
I’m also thinking on the job training, higher education, business skills, trades, goals, leadership, opportunity, dignity, team-work, money-in-the-pocket.
Our youth is widely scattered in towns, so the thinking is to take employment to them wherever they are.
How do we do it?
Every community, township, shanty-town where our youth lives is a consumer market. The greatest commodity consumed is food so this is where we start. Initially household-food, but within a year, commuter take-to-work food.
Once the food-supply scheme is up and running, it becomes a platform for the practical teaching of everyday trade services like plumbing, building, roofing, electrical installation, motor mechanics, fencing, et al, so our youth supplies these services initially to its own community and in due course, to the nation.
Adjacent to every community, authorities make land available for a kibbutz. This may be municipal, government, or available private land like small-holdings and also in co-operation with large scale farmers who have already said they are happy to train our unemployed youth.
Local youth registers to become mutual shareholders and operators of the enterprises. They become responsible for ownership of their kibbutz, breaking the first sod, management, development, operation, and marketing of the produce.
They will not be working for bosses, but for themselves. They are their own shareholders with no foreign ones. No political organisations involved. This is not an unsustainable government permanent handout, but an initial incentive from the main-stream economy to our youth to embrace free enterprise and become entrepreneurs as opposed to employees.
The Agricultural Union should be involved, plus Israeli advisers, as well as the know-how of technical colleges, experimental farms, local entrepreneurs, artisans, farmers, trades-people for ancillary skills beyond animal- and field-husbandry, such as business administration, accounting, building, welding, drainage, fencing, etc.
At this stage, you should know that Israeli kibbutzim have developed far beyond agriculture, adding industrial plants and high-tech enterprises.
$8 billion of Israeli industrial output comes from kibbutzim. That's 9% of the total. South African kibbutzim could become the platform for endless small-business servicing the local population. This could be the basis for a new manufacturing industry. How about textiles?
$1,7 billion of Israeli agricultural output comes from kibbutzim. That's 40% of the total. Dare we aim for 20%?
Initially, South Africa’s kibbutzim would start off with field husbandry like market gardens. Add to this egg production, then poultry breeding, then red-meat like pig breeding and marketing of bacon and pork. Pigs are ideally suited to intensive farming.
So our youth learns myriad skills and supplies its communities with fresh vegetables, eggs, poultry and red meat.
A further opportunity exists in the consumption of maize-meal. We can buy this in bulk direct from mills, and decant customer requirements from hundred kilogram bags into brown paper bags, just as it used to happen in the old days. More profit for our entrepreneurs.
It would be short-sighted to limit our thinking to household-food. Our entrepreneurs will double their food sales if they also embrace commuter take-to-work food.
This is an enormous market. And because eat-aways must be ready around five a.m. each morning, it facilitates running the kibbutzim twenty four hours a day, thus employing more people.
The above thinking leads to yet a new development, baking. Commercial ovens essentially for bread, but also pies, take-aways, confectionery, cake ... whatever the markets want.
Marketing is simply satisfying needs. There is no big deal about it.
So now our entrepreneurs are supplying bread too. Dairying follows after pigs because piglets grow fat on skim-milk. Small herds of Frieslands and we are into milk, butter, cheese, cream and yoghurt production.
We need planted grazing for the cows, something like alfalfa lucerne. No expensive machinery. In Asia, small farmers walk behind tiny motorised implements. No big expensive, ride-on tractors. In any case, what’s wrong with oxen drawing a plough, fertilizing the land as they go?
Lucerne allows our entrepreneurs go into bee-keeping, so now they add honey to their produce and learn yet a new skill. Have I mentioned flower production for florists?
And what about catfish breeding in concrete dams? In America, catfish is a delicacy rated higher than crayfish and is an enormous market.
Do you see what is happening here? Money is coming into the community via those who have outside jobs. But instead of it going out again into the hands of the conglomerates, supermarkets, franchises, international branded goods, etc … it remains within the community.
Lots of money in local communities, changing hands over and over many times a day, each trader making a small profit.
This is the creation of wealth. We need a win-win situation for both our youth and our country.
The local mayor responsible for each community becomes accountable for the overall success of the kibbutzim in his area, should spend time every week on site, and submit a weekly report to the province's governor who should become involved too. The scheme should be their prime responsibility. I'm thinking of a sleeves-rolled-up approach. If they can't do the job, they must go.
My estimate is two years for the scheme to stand on its feet. For those two years, the main-stream economy must finance the launch. I think about 5% of our Finance Minister’s budget.
Only proven businessmen should guide such a scheme. We have many retired achievers, CEOs, whizz-kids, farmers, thinkers, entrepreneurs and so on who would love to be involved with something as big as this.
The opportunities for our youth and the benefits to South Africa are endless.
From hopelessness, depression, turning to crime and being wooed by unscrupulous opportunists, we create a gateway for self-help, team-work, occupation, financial reward, agricultural-, business-, management- , trade skills, property ownership and a sense of belonging.
At present, our poorest people are putting their money into the hands of the wealthiest. Kibbutzim would change all that and, long-term, level the playing fields.
With continual development and innovation, South Africa could lead the developing world in the creation of wealth among the poor. One entrepreneur employs ten other people. And if we double South Africa’s middle-class, we double the business for the whole country.
We can do it and make South Africa a winner. Everything is possible.