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Thursday, 1 May 2014

South Africa's Neftaly Malatjie - A Social Entrepreneur Making a Difference in His Community

Meet 23 year old Neftaly Malatjie, from South Africa, a social entrepreneur who is making a difference in his community. In 2005, at the age of 14 Neftaly looked around his community in Diepsloot, a poverty-stricken settlement in Johannesburg and decided he wanted to make things better . He noticed that a lot of young people in his community were moving towards a life of crime and substance abuse, trapped in the cycle of poverty.

At that particular time he was part of an acting school in Soweto and realised he could keep young people, including himself, busy with positive activities. So he started a drama and theatre group. This small initiative turned into Diepsloot Youth Project, a non-profit community training centre that has since trained around 1,500 people in various skills, from computers to entrepreneurship to life skills such as applying for jobs and career counselling.

“There was a need for training within the community because people had to travel to the cities and towns which are way too expensive for them and some could not afford the courses offered by higher institutions and universities. So we have provided training for those young people for free or at a rate that they can afford,”  he said. Other courses, such as the accredited computer training course, cost a small fee, which is used to pay the salaries of the staff employed by the Diepsloot Youth Project. 

Since the age of 11, Malatjie has worked as a preschool teacher, peer educator, HIV/Aids counsellor, drugs awareness facilitator, library assistant, learning and development advisor and afternoon care coordinator. Malatjie believes that the reason he took a positive direction with his life, instead of following many of his peers into a life of crime and substance abuse was because he surrounded himself with the right people early on.
Malatjie’s ultimate dream is to see the majority of Diepsloot youngsters becoming self-reliant and able to find jobs. “We are changing stones into self-moving assets,” he said, referring to Diepsloot’s many youngsters who are despondent about their prospects. “I want people to have success stories, and would like it if one day people say that that organisation made them who they are.” Creating entrepreneurs is part of the organisation’s aim. “If someone starts a business, my people will get jobs,” Malatjie said.

According to Malatjie, the biggest business lessons he has learnt include the importance of delivering a service that leaves clients satisfied, and being careful when it comes to spending money. “You need to be careful especially when it comes to money because a lot can go wrong. Especially when you are really young you always think of big salaries and lots of spending.” His future plans include offering more courses and expanding to other areas in South Africa where community youth training is both desperately needed and lacking.

2 comments:

  1. "Malatjie believes that the reason he took a positive direction with his life, instead of following many of his peers into a life of crime and substance abuse was because he surrounded himself with the right people early on."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Feature more of these stories to inspire our youth as they visit this spot.

    ReplyDelete