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Green Livelihoods

In C4L-speak, "youth empowerment" refers to entrepreneurship - and "community enlightenment" refers to the new green occupations like Solar power.

Two South African realities are on a collision course.  This has recently been called the next Supercrisis. 

  • First, the number of jobs in South Africa has been shrinking for almost 2 decades.  
  • Second, population growth is bringing more youth every year to the entry point of the work place.

Unemployment is bad enough but the rates of youth unemployment are a disaster.

C4L has espoused for several years the need for Entrepreneurship training as the way to diffuse this time-bomb.  It prescribed enterprise training like the Micro MBA and how to write a business plan - to kick-start "green livelihoods".  However, C4L has increasingly recognized that this is a "Liberal" solution.  So C4L has also become involved in "cash-for-work" programming that is a more "Socialist" solution.

Youth are then coached to do market research and a Business plan anchored in their own community - to identify real opportunities or niches that are evident. Accordingly, youth are then offered some technical training but within the ambit of the green occupations (i.e. renewable energy, resource conservation, carbon capture, etc.)

Much of the training offered to youth by C4L's Livelihood Support Unit is outsourced to the Ehlanzeni TVET College, the state vocational college in our district.  This complies with new government guidelines.  The TVET College provides the skills development (or appoints private training providers on its roster) and C4L adds value through community and economic development coaching, mentoring and incubation.

C4L has a Board-given mandate to do both development programming and disaster response.  It therefore combines the "right" and "left" solutions - through the Entrepreneurship approach while at the same time paying stipends for "useful work" in the community.  This is semi-developmental and semi-welfare but no one can deny the proportions of youth unemployment in 2016 in South Africa.

Entrepreneurship Training

Since 2011, about 1300 youth across Mpumalanga province have done either MicroMBA or an Entrepreneurship module, or a unit standard called How to write a Business plan.  Or a combination of these.

With and through Cooperatives

The work/study approach fits well with youth who have established coops.  We have promoted a model called the "Green Coop".  These are formal-sector entities so they can contract work from local municipalities (which is more difficult for micros in the informal sector to do).

Typically, C4L is called the "Lead Employer" and the cooperatives are called the "Host Employers".  So "incubation" often means meeting with individual learners in their coop setting.

Technical Training


C4L's core business is managerial training, not vocational.  However, due to its focus on "green livelihoods" there has been a need to outsource trainings for the same youth, such as:

  • Water (basic plumbing, leak repair and rainwater harvesting)
  • Energy (Solar water heater installation and renewable energy for light and charging)
  • Waste (recycling, biogas)
  • Conservation (erosion control)
  • Carbon sequester (air cleaning)

Being a good Plumber or Solar technician does not make you a good businessman or woman!  You also need some entrepreneurship training.  The two combined are the ingredients offered by C4L's Livelihood Security Unit.

Wherever possible, the practicums while in training may earn a stipend for "useful work" in the community.  This blends the Liberal solution with the Socialist convention.

Youth say they would prefer jobs to self-employment.  But the truth is that the number of formal-sector jobs has been shrinking for 2 decades.  The road back to a healthy economy lies across the Informal Sector - that is, through self-employment.  Thus entrepreneurship training is mission-critical.

We do believe that cooperatives are an excellent model and we think that youth in 2016 need BOTH a hand up and a hand out.


Youth at entry level always need mentors.  In formal employment, one is usually there.  However, in self-employment, they are needed no less.

This is one of the Volunteering roles that C4L promotes.  So if you are ready and willing to mentor a young person starting in micro-enterprise, please contact C4L. Also, check out our blog on youth empowerment.

Blasts From the Past

In the past, C4L has taken an ad hoc approach - to provide support to various emerging enterprises among members of its Youth Corps.

1. Several small enterprises were started by graduates of the New Venture Creation qualification.

2. Another venture was ALLOVER CONSTRUCTION. With on-going mentoring from a local businessman in White River, five youth members formed a paving-brick company.

3. Another such group is a 15-member drama, music and dance troupe calling itself Jikelele Performing Arts Company. It was begun with funding from the National Arts Council of South Africa.  The plan for Jikelele to perform in local communities began in 2009 with VELDFIRE, a show it put on in Nelspruit (see the photos that follow)...