A co-operative run by a group of young people in Mtubatuba in northern KwaZulu-Natal has the potential to create jobs for locals and to boost the community’s economy.
Janitor Co-operative – which has eight members, most of whom are women – manufactures furniture and clothing.
It was established in 2015 by four young people from Mtubatuba who had seized the opportunity for free community development training that was offered by a local private institution.
Janitor Co-operative Manager Thandiwe Kunene (27) said the co-founders were previously members of separate co-operatives that were not faring well.
“After the training, we decided to come together to form one co-operative and called it ‘Janitor’, which basically means a caretaker. We had the same vision and dream, which is to make a success of our community by striving to create jobs and opportunities for young people, especially those who have completed school but are struggling to get jobs,” said Kunene.
She said all the members of the co-operatives struggled to find sustainable jobs after completing their studies, which is a problem that many young people in their community experience.
In the space of four years, the co-operative has doubled and the members hope it keeps growing.
“Right now, we have eight employees, six of whom are women,” she said.
Recently, the co-operative received five domestic sewing machines and an over-locker from the KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Ravi Pillay.
The MEC’s donation formed part of Women’s Month celebrations and was prompted by the high levels of unemployment and poverty identified in the Mtubatuba area.
“Our old machines are almost worn-out and we were starting to experience challenges in finalising products on time,” said Kunene in response to the donation. “These new machines will help us meet our deadlines and produce better work.”
“This donation is a necessary intervention to assist these young people who create employment opportunities for themselves and whose initiative helps uplift the local economy,” the MEC said.
Pillay used the opportunity to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship among the youth in the area.
He said the province is committed to encouraging economic development, creating jobs, promoting entrepreneurship and creating a conducive environment for investment.