Amidst the escalating disillusionment in our country’s political leadership, the financial downgrades, the recession and the multitude of unfulfilled expectations of the dispossessed poor, South Africans need to be constantly reminded of the groundswell of young people who are imbued with a deep sense of responsibility towards their fellow countrywo/men and are propelled by a driving mission to make our country a better place.

June – Youth Month – provides the perfect opportunity to recognize and applaud these young people who are taking forward the ideals of the 1976 youth.

Recognizing that it is odious to foreground some stars and not others (especially when there is a firmament of them), the aim of this short article is to inspire and build confidence in our country’s future by drawing attention to a few young innovators and entrepreneurs who are focusing on building our country and not being distracted by the dispiriting environment.

Peter, a recent finance graduate, has, with colleagues, focused on supporting small-scale farmers to keep arable land utilized with the aim of improving food security. They achieve this through a weather prediction App, using satellite technology to track adverse weather patterns and allow time for pre-emptive responses. This is supported by a crop insurance product to protect these farmers against extreme weather conditions.

Imaad, Banele and Nathi are addressing basic education deficits and challenges in their own unique ways.  Imaad’s Youth Academy for Leadership Excellence initially prepared low income learners to rewrite matric but has now developed into a full-time academy providing leadership and entrepreneurial development alongside the National Senior Certificate for learners; teacher development in maths, science, study skills and leadership; as well as enrichment opportunities for surrounding community members. Banele established LukArts which innovatively uses the arts in an inclusive learning environment to teach Maths and English while addressing behaviour management and life skills development. Nathi has recently completed a grueling sponsored cycle ride to raise funds for quality education in the Eastern Cape as part of the Queenstown Education Foundation

Sizwe – an author, musician/producer and scholar – has been awarded a lucrative contract to publish a political book with an accompanying hip-hop album – ‘Democracy and Delusion’ – aimed at stimulating rigorous debate, especially amongst youth, about issues in our country and thereby establish what is myth and encourage the discovery of workable solutions.

Dewald, an intrepid and awarded entrepreneur from childhood, has utilized and promoted a cross-subsidisation marketing process that gives companies direct access to lower income markets while enabling these markets to attain basic products at a lower cost.

Michael, a product engineer, is committed to stimulating the industrial and jobs sector through establishing a startup for the development and manufacture of a new health and wellness product in South Africa, initially for the local marketplace and then for global export.

Melvyn and Matt are innovators and entrepreneurs who have co-founded enterprises in the online space. After a very short time, Melvyn’s GO1 is one of the largest online marketplaces for professional learning and employee training available; has been awarded; and, is well positioned to be a global leader. Already it operates in six countries, has clients in over 20 countries and over 400 000 active users with strong month on month growth. It is partnered with leading content providers, to deliver online content and manage in-person training courses and conferences through its platform. Matt’s Inploi platform, launched in 2016 and already awarded, has been built to help people in the blue collar economy to easily access work opportunities. Its mission is to make the jobs market more efficient by helping job seekers to connect with employers seeking staff, quickly and easily. Currently focused on the hospitality sector in London, there are possibilities for future roll out of Inploi in South Africa.

Nolo’s big success story has been Storage Wars, a youth-led enterprise, which provides a moving and storage service which is safe and affordable for students. A true entrepreneur, in his first year out of university, Nolo is a job creator.

Peter, Imaad, Banele, Nathi, Sizwe, Dewald, Michael, Melvyn, Matt and Nolo are all young South Africans with a mission to make South Africa a better place. Their stories are unique as are their talents and enterprises. They are but a few examples of young people who believe in their country and who are using their education to lead for change and opportunity for others.

A reason to celebrate and remain positive South Africans.