By Charndré Emma Kippie
From Kagiso, Krugersdorp, Nkosinathi Moshoana is the GM behind Primestars’ efforts to encourage the South African youth to acknowledge their environmental responsibility and choose a regenerative and distributive future. Primestars is a company that specialises in facilitating Youth Development programmes for high school learners from underserved communities.
The recent Stats SA unemployment data which declared the unemployment rate at 32.6% and the expanded youth unemployment rate at an alarming 74.7%, is proof that South African youth find themselves nearly half a century after the 1976 June 16 uprising, in new fights. One against the unemployment crisis and the other, the climate emergency. Nkosinathi Moshoana believes this begs the question, is there still hope for total economic participation as Nelson Mandela put it?
Primestars, an organisation known as the private tutor to public education, has the answer through the establishment of a development model, Step Up 2 A Green Start Up which launches in August 2021, and is being spearheaded by Nkosinathi Moshoana. This program will inspire South African youth to accept environmental responsibility and choose a regenerative and distributive future by helping young people move from a fixed mind-set (job seeker) to a growth mind-set (job creator), seeing environmental challenges as new business opportunities and shifting from making disposable products to producing reusable goods and Utilising technology to enable their green businesses.
Please briefly tell us about Primestars.
Primestars is a company that specialises in facilitating Youth Development programmes for high school learners from underserved communities. We utilise an “Educational Theatre of Learning” model to enhance the educational process, particularly for youth from under-resourced communities across South Africa. Films and TV shows are an integral part of any learner’s life. Therefore, introducing short films into the curriculum creates an entertaining and enjoyable way to process and retain information. Our programmes focus on Matric Math & Science, Career Guidance, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship and more recently, Gender-based Violence.
What are your main career objectives? How do you hope to make a difference?
The main objectives of our organisation are to educate and empower youth from low-income communities across the country. Our programmes enable high school learners from under-resourced lower quintile schools to access quality education, equipping them with tools to navigate life after school. Our fundamental belief is that the potential of learners in affluent private schools and those in township and rural schools is the same. The main differentiator between them is access to information and exposure to the skills of the future. Therefore, our contribution to society is strategically targeted at enabling youth to become capable, independent citizens that participate in and contribute to the economy.
Please could you tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?
My heart has always been in youth development – even before I fully comprehended what it meant. In my high school days, I took up leadership positions in the Learner Representative Council. I took part in hosting all development events such as public speaking, career coaching, talent shows, sports, academic Olympiads, cultural events, and others in the hopes of enabling my peers to challenge themselves and excel. This led to my participation in the SAB Kickstart competition in 2010 (which I won), where I submitted an ideation model for a youth social enterprise named the Youngstars Movement. The model was to leverage media and entertainment to attract, engage, educate, train, and transform youth to build better lives for themselves.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of working in both local and international companies but cannot compare the love for the work I am doing at Primestars. Six and a half years later, through hard work, countless late nights, and God’s grace, I am honoured to lead a team that delivers high-impact youth development initiatives benefiting over 90,000 underprivileged secondary school learners every year. One could argue that my vision of the Youngstars Movement has come full circle through my work in Primestars.
What excites you the most about the work that you do?
Three main points drive me and excite me about my work:
- Making a positive contribution to the country I love. One of the things that I love most about the industry I work in is that, together with my team, I can conceptualise, implement and monitor tangible solutions to some of the country’s biggest challenges. I am an active citizen, constantly introducing opportunities to address some of the country’s biggest challenges, such as youth unemployment and limited access to quality education
- Seeing the impact of our programme on the faces of the thousands of young people that participate in our cinema education model and others. The visible hope and exhilaration on the faces of our beneficiaries make it worth the battles we fight every day to make these programmes happen.
- Passion. Youth empowerment is what I was born to do. It is in my blood. I feel alive when my team and I brainstorm and push each other to crack the code for the next solution to uplift youth from poverty, inequality, and unemployment.
Please elaborate on the establishment of your new development model, Step Up 2 A Green Start Up, which launches in August 2021.
The development of entrepreneurs is key to addressing South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis. In line with the National Development Plan, we believe that new jobs in our economy will have to come from SMMEs. But then, with that being said, the success of these entrepreneurs will primarily be based on their fundamental understanding of business. Therefore, to strengthen the pipeline of critical thinking, problem-solving, innovative and creative SMMEs, entrepreneurship must be taught from an earlier age. Our national youth entrepreneurship programme addresses this gap in the skills value chain.
The programme – titled Step Up 2 A Green Start Up – will inspire South African youth to accept environmental responsibility and choose a regenerative and distributive future by:
- Helping young people move from a fixed mindset (job seeker) to a growth mindset (job creator).
- Seeing environmental challenges as new business opportunities.
- Shifting from making disposable products to producing reusable goods.
- Utilising technology to enable their green businesses.
- Encouraging critical and creative thinking, communication, and imaginative problem-solving skills.
- Developing resilience to face difficulties. To fail, learn and try again.
- Co-creating collaboratively within teams.
- Prioritising people and the planet over profit alone.
- Doing more and better with less whilst delivering value to customers and their communities.
Our unique and exciting multimedia platform combines education and entertainment into the following core elements of our programme:
- The production and national screening of an educational film (in cinemas, schools and digitally) in which young entrepreneurs start a business that tackles social and environmental problems.
- An ecopreneurs toolkit that is given to all participating learners.
- A national green challenge competition and Awards ceremony.
What 3 tips do you have for inspiring South African youth to accept environmental responsibility?
- Be curious: Ask questions and find out more about how you are impacted in your daily life and community
- Learn: Identify lessons on how you can make changes in your life to make a positive difference.
- Act: Adopt a circular economy and do not just throw everything away; Reduce waste, eat healthy, farm sustainably; use wind and solar power as much as possible.
You are never too small to make a difference. The world belongs to you. You are the leaders of tomorrow, but tomorrow can only come if you act today. So do whatever you can to make a positive change by starting with whatever you have, wherever you are, right now.
Do you have any book recommendations for the youth that could potentially inspire them to get more involved in the environment?
- How to Change Everything by Naomi Klein
- A Life on our Planet by David Attenborough
- The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
- A Practical Guide to How you Can Make a Difference by Daisy Kendrick
What is your ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line? And how do you stay motivated?
Steve Jobs said a statement that resonated with me the moment I heard it, and I quote, “we’re here to make a dent in the universe”. My ‘why’ is premised on making a dent in the universe by educating, training and empowering young people to help them discover their own why’s and be the best they can be. Thus, hopefully, leaving the world better than how I found it. Secondly, I am a big believer in purpose; therefore, I am driven by the desire to fulfil the purpose that I was placed on this earth for. My motivation, as a result, is achievement, ambition, growth, and impact but most importantly, my family.
Outside of work, are you involved in any extracurricular activities and/or community outreach projects?
My work takes up a big chunk of my life because we have so much to get done, with limited time and limited resources, in our efforts to re-establish the South African dream. Still, outside of work, I speak at schools, mentor and support young boys, make provisions for collecting and donating food and clothing to the needy, and encourage others to play their part in their communities.
What life mantra or inspirational quote do you live by?
I have incredibly demanding life ambitions that require great faith; thus, I live by Luke 1:37 “For with God nothing shall be impossible”. Secondly, I live by the mantra that all human beings are designed to be great. The only difference is some know it, others discover it along the way, but sadly, most of us do not allow ourselves to believe, let alone achieve it.
What advice do you have for young people who are struggling with unemployment?
As dark as the tunnel may seem, there is still light at the end of it – do not lose hope. To lose hope, is to lose a life, and you still have lifetimes inside of you. I know what it feels like to struggle constantly and feel like no breakthroughs are coming, but from my own experiences, I can tell you that your time is coming. Your job is always to be prepared: read, learn, research, prepare yourself, put yourself out there because you will never know when your next opportunity is coming, and you never want to miss it. Remember that you are destined for greatness.
Nkosinathi Moshoana – Biggest Accolades
- Programme Winner: Silver American Chamber of Commerce Stars of Africa Award – 2019
- He was recognised by News24 & Naspers as one of the Mandela 100 – 2018
- Tshepo 1 million – 2017
- Nkosinathi Moshoana was the winner of the PRIMEDIA Company of the Year Banker Award – 2015
- TLC Marketing Product Development Agent of the Year – 2014
- Winner: Mix FM Richard Branson Success Summit Content Competition – 2012
- Winner: Provincial SAB Kickstart Creative Business Competition – 2010
- Nkosinathi Moshoana was selected to represent South Africa at Global Youth Summit in Washington DC – 2009
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