By Matṧeliso Phulane
Sefikeng Youth Cooperative Society and Entertainment (SYCSE), is an organization which is aimed at. bringing together young people with various skills and talents with a view to showcasing their capabilities.
In an interview with theReporter, the cooperative’s spokesperson Lesole Lesole said they were inspired to start such this project by the high rate of unemployment among youth in his community of Sefikeng in the Berea district.
This was coupled with a glaring lack of recreational activities and facilities which are key to keeping the youth from vices such as crime, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy as well as early marriage.
“We approached the resource centre in our community to highlight the issue of unemployment, and showed them that we could use our different talents to create our own jobs. They approved our request and held a talent search and trainings where everyone showed what they were capable of doing,” he expressed.
Lesole indicated that when the project started out, their focus was only on crop and vegetable farming. Others made and sold traditional foods such as motoho (fermented sorghum porridge) and lipabi (ground roasted corn).
“In this cooperative, we have an entertainment arm called Sefikeng Youth Entertainment, which is a platform to recite poems and produce dramas. There are also those who design whom I am part of.
“We recycle wastes like aluminium beverage cans and glass bottles to make flowerpots and jewellery boxes. We also use cement, clay, polystyrene sheet as well as dry agave which is easily accessible in our community.
“Some of our members design and make woollen clothing and create leather products. Of course all of this was preceded by a research on raw materials that we could use. We focused on abundant and easily available materials to make sure we do not run out of supply.
“Cement is easily available and we can make our own in case there is a shortage in shops. Our advantage is that our products like flower pots can be stored outside because they are resistant to harsh weather. Agave can sometimes crack, though crack,” he observed.
Lesole further revealed that they use polystyrene sheet to make jewellery boxes because of its soft texture which makes it ideal for storing all sorts of jewellery without scratching them.
He added that they are in the process of producing aloe jelly from the agave plant which is abundant around Sefikeng.
“We are funded by the International Trade Forum. We do encounter challenges. Most of the time the youth are not motivated to raise funds because they doubt themselves and the project’s prospects of succeeding.
“Another challenge is lack of information. We start our businesses with little knowledge and without the guidance of experts. That is why many businesses collapse.
“Our cooperative was joined by many youths when it started. But now we are only 18 because a sizeable chunk of our members fell of along the way. They came with different expectations such as making a quick buck. The problem with youth is that they are impatient and expect instant profits,” he said
He enthused that the rate of crime in the area has dropped significantly and credits the contribution of organisations like Citizen Voice and Action, World Vision and the ministries of police and social development.
The Sefikeng Youth Cooperative Society and Entertainment can be contacted on 51647695 for further information.