If you’re never too old to follow your dreams, then you are never too young to get them underway. While some kids are out scraping their knees and playing in dirt, others are dutifully honing their project management and business skills, devising innovative ways to monetise on their ideas all on their own, without any grant from the government. A group of school children in Umzimvubu, Eastern Cape, are proving that long gone are the days when children entrepreneurs were confined to the business of selling sweets and lemonade. In fact nowadays, these seem more like child’s play, as these children insist there is no age minimum when it comes to project conceptualisation and management.
It was only months ago when six girls and four boys, between the ages of 12 and 15 years, established a poultry project which is now running smoothly and successful. The idea was birthed by the children themselves, during a World Vision’s children’s forum that was held in Umzimvubu a year ago. Umzimvubu Area Development Programme (ADP) encouraged them to support their idea by writing a proposal requesting funds from the organisation’s decision-makers, which they did. Indeed a capital of 100 egg laying chickens, chicken stands and other tools required for a poultry project was granted to the young entrepreneurs.
The children then secured a room in the village where the chicks are kept. “This project keeps us very busy as we have to check on the chicks now and again. You’ll find us here (where the chicks are kept) during school breaks and after school, feeding the chicks, giving them water, collecting the eggs etc,” says Noncedo Gaba, project leader. The group has managed to market the project well to the community, such that more than 100 eggs are sold daily. The young business minds set their own prices as they deem appropriate to carry their overhead costs and bring in a profit. They have opened a bank account for the project, but for now a huge chunk of the profit is spent on chicken food and medication as the need arise.
The group receives continuous coaching and mentoring from a World Vision officer. “World Vision conducts training sessions with us, where they teach us project management skills. They teach us about record keeping, pricing and the importance of cleanliness”, says Mpolokeng Welem, a group member. For the ADP, the dedication of these children is such an encouragement. “They literally drive this project and make decisions on how they wish to run it. Years down the line this project can provide a breakthrough in addressing poverty in this area, where approximately 90 percent of the population lives beyond poverty line”, says James Mboto, Umzimvubu ADP manager.
The project also has a social responsibility element to it. “When we have enough funds, we would like to provide school uniforms and other basic needs for our peers whose families are unable to make ends meet”, says Gaba. Meanwhile, the expansion of the project is also on the cards. “We will make a decision on what to do with the chicks when they are old enough to lay eggs; we will either sell them to butcheries or sell fresh meat on our own’, Gada explains with confidence.
According to Mboto, the ADP is in the process of helping the children register this project, so that it can be linked with local markets. “Already some of the markets have shown interest in the product”, he said. A Memorandum of Understanding will also be signed to ensure the ownership of the project remain with the children when World Vision ceases to operate in the area.
- Olwetu Mafutha is communications officer at World Vision South Africa.