by DIKELEDI NOKWANE
JOHANNEBSURG, (CAJ News) – AGED four, Thabang Mabuza witnessed the murder of his mother by his step-father who also took his own life. A pursuit of his biological father ended in another tragedy when the parent’s life was shortened by the scourge of HIV/AIDs so prevalent in South Africa.Out of the myriad of tragedies, Mabuza, now 29, has emerged as one of the most inspirational youth advocates of his generation.“You are on earth to fulfill a mission. The world needs you too,” said the youth who refused to be bogged down by his misfortunes. His story is that of persistence, willpower and a purpose-driven mission to emancipate the youth.
Founder of the Ulwazi Resource Consulting (in 2014), which supplies aircraft maintenance parts for South African Airways Technical (SAAT),Mabuza considers himself a social entrepreneur who is passionate about creating spaces for young people to collaborate and co-create.
The Johannesburg-based businessman has impacted on more than 5 000 young people through his career expos in partnerships with Kellogg, Studietrust and Microsoft.Mabuza also mentors 80 projects and cooperatives led by young people with the intent of addressing social challenges in their communities through innovation and sustainability in the country.His impact has also been felt globally, the inspirational youth being formerly chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Children Fund youth club and an ambassador for a network of Active Change Drivers, an external consultant for the World Economic Forum on Africa and Switzerland. In additional to his milestones and achievements, Mabuza is a participant of the Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship programme of former United States President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
He is one of 63 young leaders from South Africa selected from over 20 000 applicants for the initiative created in 2014 to deepen the US’ engagement with the youth of Africa.From a young age, Mabuza was conscious of the legacy he wanted create for himself and his family, hence aged 19, he applied to the national youth service programme” City Year South Africa” where he assumed role of Service Leader and was placed in a primary school in Eldorado Park,Johannesburg.There he taught young people literacy and numeracy for a year.The year 2012 was one of breakthroughs for Mabuza.
Having only worked for seven months in his entire life, the young man from KwaThema in the east of Gauteng, armed with nothing more than his passion,quit his job at SAAT to pursue his dreams.
Unlike most graduates he triumphed the fear inflicted by the financial insecurity that comes with being unemployed.“You would notice that in 2012, entrepreneurship was not fashionable,” he said.“My friends wanted paying jobs and where more focus was on security, I went the other route and there were a lot of pessimistic reactions. Five years later, they all wanted to convert to entrepreneurship,” Mabuza recalled.In that same year he embarked on an initiative to host the inaugural Ekurhuleni Career Expo in partnership with Kellogg SA, Transnet, SAAT,Microsoft and Vodacom.
To date in partnership with Kellogg and Rand Refinery his impact has helped provide breakfast for a year to over 21 500 learners and 420 senior citizens in old age homes in many parts of Ekurhuleni and across South Africa as a whole.Mabuza remembers how his empowerment initiatives were faced with collapse,only for the intervention entrepreneur Basil Moeng.The fruits of his labour bore new relations with Moeng’s Kellog, who were content with footing the bill for the duration of their three-year partnership.
To date the initiative has provided breakfast to over 33 000 destitute learners on the Breakfast for Better Day’s initiative.
The consultancy provides integrated education solutions aimed at assisting the youth in the greater Gauteng Province to develop basic literacy and numeracy skills and make informed career choices, with an impact on over 40 000 Learners in Grade 10-12.
This is in partnership with Kellogg, Microsoft, Vodacom and Transnet collectively contributed over $60 000 towards the company as part of the company’s revenue streams.
His pursuits heightened as he became one of the first black South Africans to work at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa and Switzerland.Mabuza is a true social entrepreneur as he maximizes all available platforms at his disposal to engage the youth and his peers in vital, educational and inspirational dialogue.
He is prominent for enticing his following with humorous memes (humorously captioned images) and posts that spark thought-provoking conversation.
“Only I can tell my story and if my story can impact a young person one day at a time I am always happy share it every day,” said Mabuza in an interview with CAJ News.He has a message for aspiring entrepreneurs who might be terrified at quitting a job to follow their entrepreneurship dream.“You know where you want to be, you know your vision, it is time you connected with your destiny, the dots might not connect for now but I encourage you to quit that job if it is not fulfilling your broader vision,” Mabuza added.He mentioned perseverance was the key to success.
“Follow your dreams. Hustle until the dots connect. It might take more five years or less but at the end of the tunnel you will be happy,” he stated.