Soweto Business Hub
Soweto Business Hub (SBH) initially served as an extension of Lerato Educational Centre with the aim to support unemployed youths and small businesses. SBH is a project that was managed under the Lerato brand for 2 years but has now successfully been registered as an independent Non-Profit Company (NPC).
SBH is funded separately through a funding model that was only possible through start-up funding from Rainbow Children Trust (RBC). Our business model is a social-enterprise hybrid model that combines income-generation and sponsorships for entrepreneurs and starts-ups.
Using this model we can reduce the cost of starting a small business or micro-enterprise for many young people especially women, people living with disabilities and refugees from underserved communities.
We help entrepreneurs to grow and prosper by creating access to collaborative workspaces, quality business education, coaching, mentorship, and financial services.
Income-generated from the 10 offices rented to 12 small enterprises pays for the general operational costs of our centre. These businesses alone create employment for 32 people.
Sponsorships from grants are used to subsidise office space rental and fund special projects, training, networking and coaching for our target group. Currently we offer free office space to 10 young entrepreneurs who are in the start-up phase.
The idea of this concept was born in 2016/2017 when Lerato Educational Centre ran a successful learnership program for 15 young people. They received laptops, learning material and a year-long training program that included placement in various companies to give them practical job experience. Two similar training programs for more than 40 people were run in Soweto.
Although the more than 50 participants benefitted greatly from the learnership program and many of them found employment we faced some challenges with the learnership groups led to the idea of creating a business centre:
- It was difficult to find suitable training facilities in Soweto.
- Learners who completed programmes found themselves in a situation where starting a business was virtually impossible (lack of affordable office space; no access to further training, mentoring, funding and networking).
- It also turned out that other NGOs and small community forums find it difficult to find suitable meeting spaces.
Soweto Business Hub addresses these challenges by offering a dynamic space where a community of young entrepreneurs and small business owners can prosper.
We are now looking for financial partners to build similar business centres based on the same funding model would be established in other townships or even rural areas with even higher poverty levels.