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Chairman Of Futureproof, S’onqoba Maseko On Instilling New Ways To Accelerate Our Youths

In the near future, traditional employment opportunities will no longer exist. SA needs to prepare our children for the fourth industrial revolution, now.

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Futureproof is proud to introduce the chairman of our board, S’onqoba Maseko. S’onqoba received her Honours Degree from Wits University and is just three exams away from being a fully-qualified Actuary. The 31-year-old S’onqoba, originally from the banking industry, has previously filled several key roles at The First Rand Group, including; executive assistant to the Group CEO, Sizwe Nxasana and the head of the FNB Innovators Programme.

She is the founding COO of the Sifiso Education Group – a disruptor in the education space which also is the owner of Future Nation Schools. S’onqoba is also the Managing Director of an advisory and implementation consultancy for SMME’s called Perpetu8.

Naturally, combining her skills and experience with a passion for education and entrepreneurship has made her the perfect fit for Futureproof! S’onqoba believes that education is crucial. “It’s a game changer for the nation, the continent and the globe. It requires us to prepare children for an uncertain future in the best way we know how,”

“In a country such as ours, Futureproof instils the entrepreneurial qualities needed to not only run a business but to navigate through life,” S’onqoba continues.

Related: Futureproofing The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs

The current education system does not cater to the needs of our local and global economy. In the time of innovation, our teachers are not equipped to deal with this change and soon enough, traditional employment opportunities will no longer exist. Speaking to this topic, S’onqoba says: “It’s not about only content – you can Google anything. It’s about skills such as critical and analytical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and technology”.

With the lack of skills available to prepare our country for the fourth industrial revolution, S’onqoba says that we need to find ways to unearth existing skills and to impart new skills that are more aligned to what industry and the country needs. “We need to reframe our thinking: we need entrepreneurs, technical specialists, technology whizz kids. We need creatives, thinkers and solution-orientated problem solvers”.

“We need to make school content and theory relevant to the current and future world. We need a curriculum, approach and a pool of skills that align to the world and the future predicted. Grade 1 learners this year will finish school in 2030. Are we teaching them what they will need to succeed?”

She believes that the high unemployment rate of our youth is largely due to a lack of skills. “We have so many job vacancies yet so much unemployment. We still have companies wich only recruit based on formal qualifications and see this as the only way to have the required skills. This is outdated, and the world is moving beyond it”.

With South Africa now in technical recession, S’onqoba stresses the need for the country to pull up its boot straps and get on with the hard work that needs to be done. “Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is not working as well as it should. It’s broken. We’re spending billions as a country whilst seeing very little impact and return of that investment”.

Caring for the needs of all stakeholders, S’onqoba believes that one of the reasons for Futureproof’s success and phenomenal growth is because the business simply ‘gets on with it’. “No excuses, no time wasting” she explains.

Related: How Are South Africans Feeling About The Work Environment?

As a flourishing entrepreneur in a tough economy, S’onqoba shares some of her key learnings and says that an entrepreneur cannot survive without grit, curiosity and EQ: “Set up a business for scale from day one – think of your end state and build your business with that in mind. Recruit people who ‘get it’ and then develop them to be the best version of themselves so that they can add great value to your business,”

“Fill your board with passionate, skilled specialists who don’t only look to monetary income but are driven by passion, community and purpose.  Manage your time like its money; in fact, it’s more precious”.

We need to build sustainable businesses that employ more people and grow in revenue and turnover. “We need businesses that embrace the future and technology to solve the problems we face in an efficient and customer centered way without legacy and an inability to innovate standing in the way.” she concludes.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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The Average South African Sacrifices Over R500 000 Worth Of Unused Lunch Breaks Over Their Career

Research released today by online job board CareerJunction has revealed that only one in three South Africans take their full lunch break.

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The research conducted amongst 3,000 South African working respondents suggests that more than a third of South Africans skip their lunch break altogether between two to four times per week.

 “The average South African works two and a half years overtime during their lifetime due to unused lunch breaks. That amounts to a staggering *R512, 465.00 worth of free work and unnecessary time spent at their desks instead of taking a break,” says Odile Badenhorst, CareerJunction’s Communications Manager.

Despite their being no written rule, employees have an unhealthy belief that it’s expected of them to skip lunch. “In this fast-paced world of work, it’s a common, and unhealthy, mindset that the more hours we work, with no break, the more we’ll be admired or rewarded,” she adds.

The truth is quite the contrary – According to research, it has long been proven that regular breaks, and a healthy, well-balanced lunch break in particular, increase employee productivity, improve mental well-being, boost creativity, and encourage healthy habits in the workplace. The Cost of a Lunch Break Survey confirms this; when asked how skipping their lunch breaks make them feel, most respondents listed unhappy, indifferent and stressed as emotions that accompany them when working though their lunch breaks. So, why then, are we working ourselves until burn out?

CareerJunction says that the research also showed that while the average lunch break allocated to employees is 60 minutes, the average time taken each day by South African employees is only 24,5

minutes. Only 5% take their full 60 minutes and although over two thirds say their employer encourages them to take lunch, 19% claimed they feel pressured not to take lunch, while 38% have too much work. In fact, 73% of participants said the reason they skip their lunch break is because they have too much work to do or an unexpected task cropped up.

A large percentage, 67%, said they eat at their desks while working, with nearly 60% eating leftovers or a packed lunch. And, even though most workers have access to a full kitchen or seating area, many prefer to eat at their desks, with 45% saying they spend under R100 per week on lunch.  Therefore, the fact that 57% of respondents said that the availability of amenities close to work – such as restaurants, shops, delis, convenience stores – has no impact on their choice of job application, makes sense when you look at the majority bringing lunch from home, or not taking lunch at all.

Related: What The Law Says About Employee Leave And Absence

Smoke breaks have long been a contentious issue in the work place with many non-smokers resenting the number of extra breaks smokers get. Smokers in South Africa take, on average, three to four smoke breaks a day with 42% of their colleagues saying they don’t mind if they do. 29% said they didn’t know or care.

So, why aren’t South Africans taking lunch breaks? “While our research revealed that the majority of South African employees listed unexpected work responsibilities or too much work as reasons, other reasons included having to cover for others, sacrificing lunch breaks to leave work earlier, financial difficulties or simply not caring about lunch,” adds Badenhorst.

While it’s encouraging to see, from the research conducted, that the ‘work till burnout’ culture is largely coming from the employees themselves rather than being enforced by employers, Badenhorst is still calling on employers to encourage their staff to take regular breaks away from their desks and enjoy all the benefits that come with this.

For the full survey results, please visit www.careerjunction.co.za/lunch

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Applications For MEST Class of 2020 Now Open To Aspiring Software Entrepreneurs Across Africa

Applications for MEST Africa’s 1-year, fully-sponsored entrepreneurial training program in Accra, Ghana are now open for aspiring entrepreneurs from across the African continent.

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Interested applicants have until February 8th, 2019 to apply for the class of 2020. Successful applicants will receive in-depth training and mentorship, access to a global network and the opportunity to build the next generation of global software companies alongside successful graduates like Anitrack’s Winnie Akoko, Qisimah’s Sakhile Xulu, Bidiibuild’sKelvin Wachira, Kudobuzz’s Kena Amoah, MeQasa’s Kelvin Nyame, Amplify’s Segun Adeyemi and more.
 
“The MEST program has given me the opportunity to focus on developing the technical and business skills I need to succeed in the tech industry,” said Millicent Koranteng-Yorke, a member of the Developers in Vogue 2018 cohort and the MEST Class of 2019. “It is a chance for me to gain practical knowledge, experience and insight into my fields of interest and to develop solutions to the problems I am passionate about.”
 
Truly Pan-African, the MEST class of 2019 is its most diverse yet, representing entrepreneurs from 12 African nations. The Class of 2019 also welcomed the highest representation of women in a MEST cohort to date, at 37%. MEST will continue its strong focus on recruiting female leaders in tech, partnering with organisations including Developers in Vogue (DIV), Yielding Accomplished African Women(Yaa W), and Tech4her.
 
Over the course of 1 year, successful applicants will come to MEST HQ in Accra, Ghana and take part in an intensive entrepreneurial training program centred around business, communication and software development. The training is delivered by global experts and includes extensive hands-on project work, as well as mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, CEOs and other executives from Silicon Valley, Europe and Africa. The program culminates in an investor pitch for seed funding and the opportunity to grow their business out of one of the Pan-African MEST incubators in Lagos, Accra, Cape Town and Nairobi.
“Our goal at MEST is to enable entrepreneurs in Africa to build scalable businesses – not just apps,” said MEST managing director Aaron Fu. “One of the ways we look to do that is through the significant  Pan-African diversity in our program, which offers our EITs a strong network and a deeper understanding of problems and markets across the continent, from day 1.”
 
“This year, building on our 2018 admission of the most number of female founders in our history, we are also focused on continuing to increase our  representation of female founders, as we recognise the incredible value female leaders provide in tech.”
 
Establishing and expanding its presence on the continent over the past 10 years, MEST has invested over $20million in training nearly 400 individual entrepreneurs, and invested in 50+ early stage software companies from across Africa. MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local, regional and global markets, received follow-on funding from global investors, and been admitted to top accelerator programs such as Y-combinator, 500 start-ups and TechStars.
 
Some MEST portfolio successes include:
  • Qisimah, the first MEST-funded company with a South African CEO, selected as the Best National Digital Solution for the International World Summits Award in Business and Commerce

  • Tress, the all-female team with a product that’s changing the billion-dollar hair industry, recently accepted into Y Combinator

  • Asoriba, the church management startup that’s swept through West Africa, recently partnered with payments giant, Interswitch and has been featured on CNN, BBC, Forbes

  • Meqasa, Ghana’s number one real-estate portal which went on to raise $500,000 from Frontier Digital Ventures, and recently acquired Jumia House in Ghana.

  • Kudobuzz, an advertising and marketing software, was selected as one of the 14 ventures to represent Africa at the 2017 edition of PitchDrive, and recently acquired MEST-backed company AdGeek.

  • SynCommerce, a start-up helping customers sell across channels and keep inventory in sync, recently won the gaming and entertainment category at TechCrunch in Nairobi.

Related: 7 Factors That Influence Start-up Valuations

The Application Process
  • Attend a local MEST information session

  • Complete the application form

  • Successful applicants are contacted for a phone interview

  • Qualified applicants are asked to complete an aptitude test

  • Top candidates in each region will be invited for an in-person interview in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya or Cote d’Ivoire

  • Applications for the class of 2020 close February 8, 2019

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Eskom Competition Winner Targets More Growth

The Eskom Development Foundation is tasked with implementing Eskom’s CSI strategy in sectors including enterprise development, education, healthcare, social and community development.

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After recently winning a competition for small businesses, South Side Plumbing and Construction is looking at growing its brand and expanding its operations. Two months ago the company scooped R125 000 in prize money after winning the trade and services category of the 2018 Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC).

The company, which is based in Eldorado Park (Johannesburg), provides specialised services in plumbing and construction. Director Peter Lengweng started the business in 2015 with his partners, Jonathan and Cathy Khan, and they now have 45 permanent and 20 part time employees.

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When the company was started, they primarily wanted to attract clients in the insurance sector and that’s how they got most of their clients. They devised a clever way to get their end-user clients by approaching and securing contracts with insurance companies. The insurance companies receive claims from their clients, and the ones that require services that Lengweng’s company provides are then assisted through this relationship. The company also does domestic work but most of their business is generated through the insurance companies.

Lengweng has a strong background in marketing and he believes no company that is serious about succeeding can go about its business and actually achieve maximum success while completely ignoring the importance of marketing it.

“We are going to be using a big chunk of our winnings from the Eskom BIC to rebrand the company. When we started, I did the company branding myself, which is not my forte, so winning a competition such as this one that comes with this kind of cash injection gives us a great opportunity to do things right in that respect and also augment our cash flow. We also want to grow the company by opening branches in other provinces as we currently only service the Johannesburg area in Gauteng,” says Lengweng.

Read next: Is Venture Capital Right For You?

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