Growing Africa, one entrepreneur at a time

A Cape Town-based Social Entrepreneur shares how she’s created 60 stable jobs in just 8 months.

Ukama Holdings Founder Janine Roberts with some of the micro entrepreneurs she supports. Picture: Janine Roberts

Janine Roberts is a woman with a plan.

8 months ago, she started a social entrepreneurship business in Cape Town's Capricorn Park.

Roberts saw the desperate need for employment in the area, and hatched a plan, not only to employ individuals, but to empower micro entrepreneurs.

"I didn't want to just start a factory and employ people," she says "Factory workers can be employed, but still live in abject poverty. I wanted to truly empower people"

Her venture, Ukama Holdings, partners with micro entrepreneurs in Capricorn Park.

They identify raw talent in the area, and help train them to be business owners in their own right.

They offer financial courses that teach the basics of invoicing, and rudimentary bookkeeping.

"We also offer ongoing mentorship, support and life coaching. Those services are donated to us. For instance, our resident life coach is retired, and offers his services free of charge"

Micro-entrepreneurs pack food at Ukama Holdings in Capricorn Park. Picture: Janine Roberts

The teams associated with Ukama work at a central venue in the area, packing dry food for big corporates.

They now count among their clients companies such as Tiger Brands and Nature's Choice.

Roberts' decade-long career in the food industry has stood her in good stead.

Ukama is able to quote competitive rates for packing, and attract large clients.

As for the profits, they are largely ploughed back into the community.

In just 8 months, the enterprise has created 60 stable jobs within the community of Capricorn Park.

It was this achievement, and Roberts' commitment to social upliftment, that got her noticed by one of the richest men in Africa.

African Billionaire, Tony Elumelu, with some of the entrepreneurs who took part in the pan-African boot camp.

Nigerian billionaire, Tony Elumelu started a foundation that seeks to raise the stakes on entrepreneurship, teaching startups some of the basic skills they need to survive and thrive.

Roberts was one of 31 South Africa-based business people chosen for an intensive development boot camp, conceived by the foundation.

A thousand entrepreneurs took part in the program, from more than 50 African nations.

Over the next decade, the program will be repeated every year, aiming to empower ten thousand entrepreneurs across the continent