With safety and security continuous points of contention in South Africa, individuals and communities are taking matters into their own hands to protect the most vulnerable in our country. Last year’s unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng proved citizens are willing to come together as communities across the country mobilised homes and local businesses against looting and vandalism. While vigilantism in communities has negative consequences, initiatives like MeMeZa’s Ikasi Secure Project, sponsored by South African Impact Investment Fund E-Squared, gives individuals the opportunity to protect and empower communities and themselves in a safe and positive way.
“MeMeZa has always been on a mission to empower the most vulnerable in our communities,” says Elmarie Pereira, Chief Operations Officer at MeMeZa Community Safety. “As such, we provide tangible safety technology linked directly with Community Policing Forums, neighbours, family, friends and the South African Police Services (SAPS) in the hopes of providing added security in high-risk communities.”
“Our Ikasi Secure Project initiative focuses on improving the safety of Soweto residents while at the same time fostering an entrepreneurial spirit among the youth of the area by creating a business model that can be scaled across the country. Ultimately, we want to create safer communities through innovative technology and give youth an opportunity to earn an income,” added Pereira.
E-Squared is a social enterprise that provides funding and support to various South African organisations focussed on youth entrepreneurship programmes like MeMeZa. Pereira adds, “Over the past 12 months, E-Squared has helped us deploy the Ikasi Youth Entrepreneurship Programme successfully as we aim to create opportunities for young people to start their own businesses in the field of security.”
Nine inspiring young entrepreneurs
The Ikasi Project was launched to drive the entrepreneurial spirit of young and aspiring youth in Soweto. Nine young individuals were chosen, who will be taught the skills required to run a business and earn a monthly income for 18 months. “At the end of the project, these nine entrepreneurs will have the option to continue their work with Ikasi or use their newfound skills to start their own business initiatives and projects,” adds Pereira.
Entrepreneurs will have access to sell two product offerings: the Casi Mobile Panic App and the MeMeZa Community Alarm System. Mboniseno Mathenjwa (26) is one of the chosen entrepreneurs who describes himself as reliable, punctual and dedicated. As a current local police station volunteer and member of the crime prevention desk, Mboniseni hopes to learn as much as he can from the Ikasi programme to equip him to be the best entrepreneur possible.
Siphiwe Mnisi (31) is an honest and hard-working individual excited to learn new skills through the Ikasi Project. “I am friendly, helpful and polite. I can also be independent in a busy environment and within a team setting,” he adds. “I am tactful and able to listen effectively when solving problems. Through working with the Ikasi Project, I have acquired the skills to run my own business. I’ve also been armed with knowledge on security and obtained a level Grade B certificate.” Siphiwe’s hope for Ikasi Secure is to engage with people and build relationships within the community.
Sithembiso Simelani (29) describes himself as kind and hard-working who loves interacting with people and learning new things. He is a financial advisor by profession and also a competent junior security supervisor. He says, “My hope for Ikasi Secure is to see my township safe. I’m also excited to gain more experience in becoming an entrepreneur.”
Community-based projects and initiatives
“Through community-focused projects, MeMeZa provides technology and tools to vulnerable communities. Our Ikasi project combines this objective with helping young people in these townships thrive. Not only are they able to make an income for 18 months, but they are learning about the skills and dedication it takes to set them up for future success,” concludes Pereira.