Social entrepreneur Cedza Dlamini has spent the past seven years travelling the world in search of opportunities for the local youth.
Dlamini is the founder and MD of Ubuntu Institute, a social enterprise whose main aim is to help achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals through poverty alleviation programmes targeting unemployed youth from rural and semirural communities. Among its projects is an international internship programme, in which it places successful candidates in resorts in the US, the UK, Australia and China for six to 12 months and assists them to find employment in the local hospitality industry. Dlamini says the programme has thus far helped over 1000 young people who would have been unemployed.
Dlamini, a grandson of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland and Nelson Mandela, believes social entrepreneurship is a great tool to conquer poverty and unemployment. But too often social entrepreneurs fall into the trap of relying on donor funding and become less innovative.
The Charles Schwab Foundation defines a social entrepreneur as someone who is a combination of Mother Teresa and Richard Branson. Dlamini is keen to use business principles to run a sustainable social enterprise.
"Sustainability is key. A lot of people who start NGOs are looking for donor funding. A social entrepreneur knows he can't just depend on funding, he needs to be creative in all business aspects."
Ubuntu generates over two-thirds of its funding from donors. The rest comes from its investment arm, Ubuntu Institute Holdings. Dlamini would like donor funding to account for about 40% when the investment arm matures. He says SA is awash with talent and options for budding entrepreneurs, but inadequate skills are often an obstacle to tapping into those opportunities.
With partners such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, Ubuntu is now developing programmes to meet the demand for rail engineering and related artisan skills.