By Precious Mupenzi

  • Youth from all nine provinces of South Africa gather in Rustenburg to commemorate Youth Month, celebrating 30 years of democracy and envisioning a promising future.
  • Organised by the Department of Social Development, this two-day programme includes dynamic dialogues and sports activities, aiming to foster unity, empowerment, and networking among young attendees.
  • Highlighting entrepreneurial spirit, Thandile Martins from Gqeberha shares her cooperative’s journey, emphasising the importance of self-initiative, community support, and future plans for growth and training.

As the sun rises over Rustenburg, a sense of excitement fills the air. Youth from all nine provinces of South Africa have gathered to commemorate Youth Month, reflecting on the country’s 30 years of democracy and looking ahead to the future. Organised by the Department of Social Development (DSD), this two-day programme promises to be a dynamic mix of dialogue and sports, fostering a spirit of unity and empowerment among the young attendees.

From the moment they arrive, the enthusiasm of the youth is infectious. Groups of young people, braving the cold weather as the venue is situated right under the mountain, engage in animated conversations, their faces alight with anticipation. Among the crowd is Thandile Martins from Gqeberha, a 27-year-old Director of Green Technologies Engineering Cooperative. As the youth cheer and prepare for the formal programme, Martins shares her aspirations.

“Our goal for the two-day session is to build networks with youth from other provinces,” says Martins. Her cooperative, formed in 2019 and operational by 2022, comprises six females and one male. The business offers building and maintenance services, plumbing, and electrical work. Recently, they expanded into seedling production, which has been thriving.

Martins holds an N5 in Civil Engineering but chose not to wait for government employment or seek a job. Instead, she and her friends decided to start a cooperative, operating under the Kolisi Foundation. “We did not want to wait for opportunities to come to us; we created our own,” she explains.

The cooperative’s primary clients are schools. Martins expressed gratitude for the support received from the Department of Social Development. “In July 2023, we received funding from the DSD, which enabled us to purchase more equipment and reach more clients,” she notes.

Looking ahead, Martins and her colleagues have ambitious plans. “We want to provide training for TVET graduates and further acquire accreditation aligned with Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA),” she states. Passionate about giving back to the community, her cooperative has volunteered at local schools, painting and maintaining toilets and sports grounds.

Martins is open to collaboration and support for her cooperative. “Anyone interested in learning more about our cooperative or collaborating with us can reach us on our Facebook page, GreenTEC, or call our business line at 067 950 6078,” she adds.

As the programme is about to begin, a renewed sense of purpose sweeps through the attendees. The upcoming stories and experiences to be shared by the panelists promise to leave a lasting impression, offering not only inspiration but also practical advice and opportunities. The youth will depart Rustenburg with a deeper understanding of their potential and a strong commitment to contributing positively to their communities.


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