15 February 2019 / 10 Jamad-Ul-Akhir 1440
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Economic Opportunities Program
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In July 2018 the department of social development in conjunction with Nicro initiated a program titled economic opportunities program. This program sought to expose ex-offenders to opportunities that will enable them to empower themselves economically. The department of social development discovered that ex-offenders struggle to find employment or create employment opportunities for themselves after being released from prison due to their criminal records. Lack of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities causes anger and frustration, which escalates the possibility of ex-offenders resorting to crime to support themselves. This then prompted the department of social development and Nicro to initiate the economic opportunities program to address this issue. The program is lead by Thamsanqa Methule a social worker employed by Nicro. It`s first induction was on 10 July 2018 at the New Law Court conference room in Govan Mbeki Avenue. Eight ex-offenders attended the presentation.
These presentations were intended to expose ex-offenders to opportunities available for them. Such opportunities include skills development, entrepreneurial training and sources of funding for small businesses. The presentations took place over three days from 10 until 12 July 2018. Before the first presentation Nicro invited the South African National Zakah Fund to participate in the program. SANZAF then invited one of the eight ex-offenders which attended the induction to be part of the program. On the second presentation the manager of ABSA`s Entrepreneurial Development Centre Gcinashe Vambe was the guest speaker. Her presentation focused on how to start and manage a small business, how to apply for funding if you need capital to start a small business and training courses offered by ABSA to entrepreneurs starting a small business. On the third presentation Sonwabo from the National Youth Development Agency was the guest speaker. In his presentation he advised ex-offenders on types of businesses they should consider should they wish to take on an entrepreneurial rout. He informed the ex-offenders about the criteria used by the NYDA to assess funding credibility.
Sonwabo offered to guide ex-offenders through their application process should they apply to the NYDA for start up capital. On the third presentation only five of the eight ex-offenders were present. They discussed possible ways of utilising the opportunities that were presented to them. The ex-offenders decided on sharing knowledge amongst each other in order to exchange skills and share work opportunities that arise. The leader of the program Thamsanqa Methule suggested meeting on a monthly basis with members committed to the program to monitor the extent of progress made. Thamsanqa committed to providing guidance, support and assistance to the members of the program wherever necessary. The ex-offenders committed to the programme and agreed to schedule monthly meetings with Thamsanqa for assistance, advice and report on progress of the endeavours they decided to pursue after completing the program.