From left, entrepreneur Nelisa Mahlobo; base camp director Phumlani Ndwadwe, his colleague, Sihle Ndima; entrepreneur Sindi Ngcobo, and the base camp’s Dave Fynn and Sihle Magugu, a graphic designer. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - One thousand rand or 100 hours - that’s what is required to join a new innovative project launched in uMlazi at the weekend, with the goal of creating entrepreneurs and sharing skills.

And it’s anticipated that this new base camp to uplift young entrepreneurs and artists in uMlazi’s K Section will create a generation who can sustain their businesses and in turn give back to the community.

The base camp, funded by From The Roots, a US-based NGO, began operating two weeks ago and was officially launched at the weekend.

Founders Dave Flynn, Sihle Ndima, Phumlani Ndwandwe, as well as graphic designer Sihle Magugu, said their goal was to open more base camps in the township in the future, as well as in Chicago, in the US.

“These base camps can help entrepreneurs connect and share knowledge, as well as expertise. We’re going to introduce membership to the base camp with a R1000 yearly fee.

“This fee will be for access to computers and wi-fi facilities as well as one-on-one consults with established entrepreneurs,” said Ndima.

But, he explained that as an entrepreneur with a particular skill or qualification, participants could opt for the yearly fee to be 100 hours - during which they train, assist and give back to the camp instead of paying cash.

Up-and-coming artists who are members will also have access to the Biko Hall where they can put on shows or rehearse - use of this hall is free for community members.

“Contacts I have in the arts industry, including music, will also give talks at the camp to those wanting tips and guidance in breaking into the industry. The camp is also a space for artists in all forms to grow, while its main purpose is to uplift the community and for entrepreneurs to uplift each other.”

Once a month there will be “growth chilla” sessions where artists and social entrepreneurs can showcase their talents.

“We want this place to give direction and opportunities to artists and aspiring businessmen and women. I’ve also approached local business people who are doing well, to come in to advise and motivate our members.

“One of the biggest problems with youth entrepreneurs is sustainability - we hope to change this,” he said.

Ndima added that every Wednesday they would skype the board members of From The Roots in the US so they could see what progress was being made at the camp and what else was needed.

“We want to sustain the camp and not wait for further funding from the board. They have already funded so much and now we want to show that we can sustain ourselves, which is why we introduced membership.”

Elaborating on the one-on-one consultations, Ndwandwe, who lives at the camp, said entrepreneurs would be assisted with various aspects of their business from brainstorming to mapping out solid business plans, as well as registering their businesses.

“These consultations are to help entrepreneurs till they are fit enough to stand on their own, thereafter referring them to other experts, who are members, who can assist further,” he said.

There are also plans to build a recording studio with an on-site producer, which members could use.

Nelisa Mahlobo and Sindi Ngcobo with MGIFE, a financial education institute, who were visiting the camp when The Independent On Saturday was there, said they would take full advantage of the facility.

“Our goal is to educate black people financially in order for them to create and protect their wealth, as well as to leave a legacy for their children. We need to learn how to get out of the cycle of poverty,” said Ngcobo.

Mahlobo said the camp’s vision - to help the youth sustain their business - was in line with their vision of leaving a financial legacy.

“The camp will expose us to other businesses and different companies, and we can learn ways of creating an extra income, teaching youth to be more self-reliant. Once you are self-reliant, you can support your family properly financially,” Mahlobo said.