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Neftaly Malatjie Of The Southern Africa Youth Project On Taking Risks

For Neftaly Malatjie of the Southern Africa Youth Project entrepreneurial zeal and a desire for change paves the way for empowerment.

Monique Verduyn




Vital Stats

Neftaly Malatjie is impatient. His frustration is rooted in the fact that so many young South Africans struggle to break into the job market because they don’t have the right formal qualifications, or have not had the right breaks. It’s that impatience for change that has kept things moving forward for this young entrepreneur.

In 2005, aged 14, Malatjie started Diepsloot Youth Projects, now the Southern Africa Youth Project, using money he had saved from part-time work.

Based in the densely populated, impoverished township of Diepsloot, the project brings hope to young people in the community through entrepreneurship training, sewing and interior design workshops, workplace skills development and career counselling, and computer training.

The aim is to help at-risk youth to become responsible citizens, by providing them with information, support and skills that lead to their empowerment, and employment.

Malatjie says he made many mistakes in the beginning, which is understandable considering his tender age and lack of experience. But commitment and the belief of his community kept him going.

Related: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

Spend conservatively

“Early on, I secured funding from a large corporate, and without thinking I spent the entire annual budget in a week,” he recalls.

“I had signed a contract and eventually got into personal debt to cover the expenses for the rest of that year.”

That happens when enthusiasm overrides pragmatism. “There were so many problems to be addressed, that I wanted to fix them all at once Lack of focus almost destroyed my dream. Whatever you set out to do, first allocate your budget and resources, especially with donor funds.”

Your title doesn’t matter


“Like many new entrepreneurs, I gave myself the title of CEO,” Malatjie says. “I should have waited until the enterprise had achieved some credibility. It’s better to use a title that tells people what you do.”

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but most people will be more interested in your track record and achievements than your title.

Admin is your friend

Malatjie has learnt to love documentation. “Admin needs to be your favourite thing when you set up a social business. You need evidence of everything you do and it’s important to ensure compliance and registration with all the appropriate regulatory agencies.

Review and adapt

When the project was still in its infancy, Malatjie was aiming to reach around 2 000 youths per year. He soon felt that he was floundering because the target could not be achieved. He enlisted the help of a board of directors who offer expertise from different industry sectors.

Related: Musician Concord Nkabinde On Treating Music Like A Business

“Develop a strategy, determine how often you need to review it, and do it. In our reviews, we measure what we have achieved against our goals to determine where we need to improve. We set targets for fundraising, decide on beneficiary goals and ensure that we maintain a narrow focus. Setting targets is critical. Determining what you will do and why is important, because it’s not about numbers, but impact. Today we place 70% of the youths we reach into jobs by the time they exit our programmes.”

As Malatjie’s primary purpose is to grow the impact of the organisation, he and his team are looking at franchising and partnerships to enable national reach and deeper impact.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.


25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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