by Carmen Fuller

Teach a man to fish

Providing international opportunities to local youth

Teach a man to fish

In a bid to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, social entrepreneur and founder of the Ubuntu Institute, Prince Cedza Dlamini, aims to provide unemployed youth from rural and semirural communities with better opportunities. 

The Ubuntu Institute offers an international internship programme. Successful candidates are placed in various resorts within the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and China. Once the candidates complete their 6- to 12-month internships, they will be brought back home and assisted to find employment within their local hospitality industry. Dlamini says the programme has thus far helped more than 1 000 young people who would have been unemployed.

Dlamini, a grandson of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland and Nelson Mandela, believes social entrepreneurship is a great tool to conquer poverty and unemployment. But too often, social entrepreneurs fall into the trap of relying on donor funding and become less innovative.

Dlamini is keen to use business principles to run a sustainable social enterprise. "Sustainability is key. A lot of people who start NGOs are looking for donor funding. A social entrepreneur knows he can't just depend on funding – he needs to be creative in all business aspects," he says.

The institute generates over two-thirds of its funding from donors. The rest comes from its investment arm, Ubuntu Institute Holdings. Dlamini would like donor funding to account for about 40% when the investment arm matures. He says SA is awash with talent and options for budding entrepreneurs, but inadequate skills are often an obstacle to tapping into those opportunities.

With partners such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, the Ubuntu Institute is now developing programmes to meet the demand for rail engineering and related artisan skills.

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