Pathways to Progress: Mpumelelo and Lawrence, Johannesburg
August 23, 2017 09:30 AM
This post is part of a series inspired by Pathways to Progress, Citi and the Citi Foundation’s response to the persistent issue of youth unemployment globally. Follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #Pathways2Progress.Mpumelelo and Lawrence are young entrepreneurs who recently opened their first business venture – a coffee shop called Kofi in the Soweto Township of Johannesburg, South Africa. They opened Kofi after participating in TechnoServe’s Box Shop Program, which supports entrepreneurship by connecting local entrepreneurs with wider markets and linking them to stable supply chains.
Mpumelelo and Lawrence believe that the program gave them a platform to achieve their dream of bringing a product they believe in – their coffee – to market. “Our business aspirations are to create a sustainable business that can be up-scaled into multiple franchises in major centers and hopefully across the continent. The bigger picture is to connect farmers with our supply chain to create inter-trade opportunities within small/medium sized businesses across the country.”
The Box Shop Program is part the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative to prepare young people for today’s competitive job market. In collaboration with the global nonprofit TechnoServe, the program creates concept stores in South African townships and procures products from local youth entrepreneurs, who receive technical assistance and financial support to help them build self-sustaining businesses that provide a steady source of income. Ultimately, the goal is for the shops to revitalize township economies while promoting youth employment through the support of local youth entrepreneurs. Since its inception the Box Shop Program has incubated 22 small businesses managed by 43 young entrepreneurs.
In key cities around the world, the Citi Foundation works with community and municipal leaders to support programs aimed at helping to reduce youth unemployment and improve the quality of the youth workforce. We’re equally committed to supporting research that helps advance the field and contributes to the development of new economic opportunities for youth, which is why we recently released the Global Youth Survey 2017: Economic Prospects & Expectations, a survey conducted by the global market and opinion research firm Ipsos, to understand the economic expectations and aspirations of young people around the globe. According to the Ipsos survey, 89% of young people in Johannesburg declared that their dream is to own their own business. By helping young people in Johannesburg turn that aspiration into a reality, the Box Shop Program is just one example of how the Citi Foundation – along with its community partners across the globe – are creating Pathways to Progress for young people. Learn more here.