The Awethu app: Your mobile business mentor

21 March 2018

For many South Africans, the unemployment rate is more than a scary news headline, it’s reality. Most unemployed South Africans fall into two groups – young people struggling to find their first job and older people who lost a job and cannot find another. As job creation fails to keep up with the demand, self-employment or entrepreneurship becomes the only way to earn a living.

However, starting your own business isn’t easy! We spoke to Yusef Randera, the CEO of the Awethu Project about entrepreneurship to learn how his team is working to ‘create a more equitable South Africa’. 

The Awethu Project is a business incubator offering a programme that helps South Africans start and grow their own microbusinesses. It teaches future entrepreneurs everything they need to know about running a business – from marketing to managing finances – as well as offering networking sessions and mentorship.

The good news is, Randera doesn’t think it’s a lack of talent that is holding South Africans back, unfortunately, it’s the lack of opportunity made available many of them: ‘We started by going into the townships around Joburg, where we have way more talent than is shown.’ He is quick to point out that the Awethu Project can be the opportunity for those who don’t have access to traditional paths of education. He explains, ‘Given that economic structures often decide who succeeds, we went looking for this talent. We aren’t looking at where they come from – at their matric certificate or their business’ papers, we were looking at what they can do.”

Since starting the Awethu Project, they’ve incubated over 2 000 entrepreneurs who in turn have been able to create a further +2 500 jobs. However, Randera and his team identified a market in need of assistance, but who aren’t able to join their programme.

The Awethu Project Virtual Incubator

‘Many entrepreneurs in South Africa are informal traders or spaza shop owners and we wanted to find a way to help them.’ he explains. ‘So, we put everything we’ve learned as an incubator and put it into a free app that anyone can access. With the help of Absa, who funded the building and launch of the app, we were able to go live in June 2017.’

At the 2017 MTN Business App of the Year Awards, it won the prize for Best Education Solution and by the end of January 2018, it’s been downloaded by more than 23 879 users! The mobile business tool is aimed at educating people in developing economies, not just South Africa, on how to start and grow their own business. Through the app, they have access to basic business training, tools and the opportunity to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs.

The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit

Ready to start your journey to become a part of the next generation of African entrepreneurs? Download the app for free, here.

Absa can also help you get started with everything from putting together a business plan to opening your first business bank account. Remember, it’s never too soon to start thinking big!

Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.