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Motivational Printers, a company of learners at Orlando West High School, landed first prize in the High School Business Plan Competition.
PRINTING motivational texts on T-shirts to boost the self-esteem of young people in Soweto has earned learners from Orlando West High School the first prize in the City’s High School Business Plan Competition.

Mphethi Mahlatsi High School present their business planThe innovative company, Motivational Printers, was named the overall winner of the competition on 16 May at Dlamini Community Hall. The company walked away with a trophy and a cooler filled with soft drinks worth R10 000. The learners now have to sell the drinks to generate capital to start up their business.

In second place were learners from Mpheti Mahlatsi High School in Orange Farm. They came up with the idea of producing and selling portable car window covers for passengers to protect themselves when they are travelling either on public transport or private transport.

The third place was grabbed by learners from Johannesburg Muslim High School, for their idea of designing fashionable clothing. All the winning learners will go for a three-day business course facilitated by Growth Ink.

At the event’s finals, groups from 14 schools presented their business plans before a panel of judges from the City of Johannesburg. Among a range of business plans that were presented were a restaurant, a tuck shop, a still water shop, a recycling plant and a hair salon.

Explaining their business idea, the six business-minded teenagers that make up Motivational Printers pointed out that T-shirt making was a common business. But they had nasty messages.


The Muslim School came in thirdJohannesburg Muslim High School came in thirdSihle Escorcio, the extrovert chief executive, said: “We did a lot of research in our community and on the internet and we discovered that this idea would work and it would help a lot of young people.

“We chose this idea because most young people’s self-esteem is decreasing due to being bullied at school or any other reason.”

Another partner, Liza Yoyo, was delighted with the win. “This was an awesome experience, and it is a big opportunity for us to enhance our business skills,” she said.

According to Thulani Nkosi, a more reserved business partner, this competition made him realise that he was not meant for employment but to create employment.

The excitement of winning could be seen on the face of Mmabatho Mongane, an economics teacher at Orlando West High. She explained: “I am very happy as my students will be motivated and will have the opportunity to practise what they have been studying in class.”

Youth development
The competition was sponsored by the City’s department of economic development and various organisations, such as Khula Enterprise, Amalgamated Beverages Industries (ABI) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

ABI is a subsidiary company of South Africa Breweries. “It is a great initiative, the fact that it involves high school learners,” said Beverly Selepe, ABI’s corporate affairs specialist. “We have never had anything like this before and we are willing to work with the City in the future.”


The panel of judgesThe panel of judgesKhula Enterprise finances small viable and sustainable businesses. Its business support analyst, Nompendulo Melane, said: “Siboniso [Ndlovu] approached us and we thought it was a good idea because it is better to teach young people about entrepreneurship before they go to university, they need to know organisations like ours that are willing to help them financially.”

Siboniso Ndlovu is an assistant director of policy development in the City. He was the organiser of the competition.

Zuko Nkungu, the acting manager of the NYDA Soweto branch, praised the programme. “This is a good programme because youth is being encouraged to be entrepreneurs before matric because after that it is a little late,” he said

The competition would encourage young people to participate in the economy of the country by opening their own businesses, he added.

The High School Business Plan Competition was piloted in Alexandra in 2009. organised by the department of economic development, it is designed to help develop a culture of entrepreneurship among learners.

In January, the department invited about 60 schools within the Joburg Student Council to participate, and 33 entered the competition. Of them, half made it to the finals.

According to the department, in 2009 the City approved a policy and strategic framework for entrepreneurial skills development specifically targeting young people. The intention is to increase the scope and pool of players in business with the objective of propelling economic growth.

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