MTN Eswatini has funded the Mpaka Vocational Skills Centre 2020 intake to the tune of E100 000.

This financial boost has enabled 45 young people to begin their training at the Mpaka Vocational Education and Training Centre on July 28, 2020. The training is run by Junior Achievement (JA) Eswatini, under their Out of School Youth Programme. MTN has been funding the programme since 2016. 

The objective of this year’s training is to; ‘contribute towards the reduction of the unemployment rate for out of school youth through entrepreneurship skills development by December 2020.’  

MTN Eswatini Corporate Affairs Manager Mandla Luphondvo said the training will empower students with practical business and entrepreneurial skills that will enable them to start or scale up their businesses at community level by November 2020, and provide mentorship to the students at the vocational institution by November 2020.

Luphondvo said the student recruitment was conducted at the vocational centre on July 15, 2020 in compliance with the COVID-19 Guidelines.  

For instance, he said the recruitment was attended by 54 young people. Therefore, they were divided into two groups to maintain the required one-meter social distance. It was also kept very short.

“The training will also be conducted in compliance with the COVID-19 Guidelines, because the safety and health of the students is our priority,” he said.

Asked why the company prioritized funding the programme amid the ongoing health crisis, Luphondvo said while older adults suffer disproportionately from COVID-19’s health impacts, young adults are likely to bear the brunt of economic and social crises unleashed by the coronavirus.    

“Addressing this crisis cannot wait until after the virus has receded. And young people themselves should be at the center of the pandemic recovery plans. They are not just victims of these interlocking crisis. They can be a cost-effective response to lead and contribute to mitigating the long term economic and social costs that their generation may experience most profoundly,” he said. 

Luphondvo said the training will run every Wednesday for nine days. It will cover business basics; organizing and planning a business. The students will then be mentored by JA for four months, from August to November.  He said a mentor will be linked with the students to help them as they work on their business plans.  

“Thereafter, the students will present their business plans in front of judges and five winners will be chosen to receive E50 000 seed capital,” he said.

Luphondo explained that winners will not receive cash but material will be purchased for them to start their businesses. 

“MTN believes that the youth will be on the front line of economic recovery. They will define how we revive and thrive in the new normal,” said Luphondvo.


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