Cape Town - In response to current challenges facing the country’s youth, Youth Connect was established to provide a platform for young people to connect, learn, grow as well as nurture creativity and talent through the informal trade sector.
Youth Connect Head Samantha van Schalkwyk, said the initiative was established by the South African Informal Traders Alliance (SAITA) to address key issues faced by young people - this included youth unemployment, lack of workplace readiness skills, various socio-economic challenges, sense of self-worth and access to entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
Van Schalkwyk said they worked to directly impact and improve the youth unemployment rate, nurture youth entrepreneurship, and revitalise the youth to be active and positive contributing members towards the economy and the communities within which they find themselves.
“We aim to provide opportunities for our young people to connect, engage, share, debate, contribute and have a voice to impact and influence.
“The platform encourages and activates social connections which increase feelings of belonging, self-worth, purpose, and allows healthy relationships to be forged,” said Van Schalkwyk.
Since their official launch, in April this year, the group has hosted a number of activations encouraging and assisting young people in various communities, including Athlone, Elsies River and Brackenfell with many success stories.
“Through Youth Connect I was also able to complete a marketing course which provided me with invaluable resources and knowledge. I've met some incredible young informal traders and I believe we will all go very far in our careers,” said Richwood youth entrepreneur and recycling business, Save A Fishie, owner Zoe Prinsloo.
Grassy Park Youth Connect member Isam Gasant joined the team last year and has since been able to gain a multitude of work experience, new skills and qualify for a certificate that opened him up to new career opportunities.
Athlone Youth Connect member Grace Maduku said the platform enabled her to help others and to create opportunities for youth in need of guidance and support.
Youth interested in getting involved were encouraged to make contact through the group’s Facebook page (@SaitaYouthConnect) or through email ([email protected]).