Johannesburg - The high unemployment rate in South Africa has consistently remained one of the most pressing socio-economic issues facing the country.
The job losses suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic during the past couple of years have compounded the problem.
Even the lucky few who were fortunate enough to have gainful employment found themselves facing an uncertain future.
The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit.
In 2019, Siyabonga Ngwenya, 30, from Senaone in Soweto, who was employed as a chef at the time, found himself unemployed and with very few prospects.
Little did he know that what started out as a very dire situation would become the catalyst for him to start his own business and open a restaurant in the heart of Soweto.
He says he was depressed as a result of the situation he then found himself in but also states that was the reason he ventured into business.
He says: “So ‘Covid depression’ pushed me to start my own place because I had to pay rent, I had a family to support, and I also had to support myself. So that pressure, that pressure really pushed me.“
He started cooking from home and posting his meals on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the pictures started trending, and he realised he could turn his home made meals into profit.
Ngweyna shared his vision with some of his friends, and they all contributed the little money they had towards starting the eatery, and so “Yummy Things” was born.
He is proud of the fact that the business was self-funded.
He said: “We came together with whatever money we had at that time. We bought equipment. We bought groceries, bought a few seatings for set-up, and then that's how we started. So we are not funded by government or any private entity. It's just something that started from our own pockets.”
He does, however, feel the government could do more to facilitate youth entrepreneurship. He feels there is too much red tape.
“What I would like to see from government and other entities is for them to work with us. They make things difficult for us,” he said.
“So, I’d like them to give us a platform in regards to assisting us apply for specific things because when you try to apply for things, they refuse.
Ngwenya’s business now employs 16 people and benefits other members of his community that sell their goods outside his eatery on weekends.
He advises budding entrepreneurs to take the first step by just going ahead and starting whatever business they may have in mind.
He said: “Advice I would like to give to some who wants to be an entrepreneur and who is in the position I was in a few years back is that they must get rid of their fear of failure.
“We fear so much starting things. We have the world’s best ideas and we want to make them happen but we just fear starting.”