Bridging the skills gap
When about a hundred 2007 matriculants approached 22-year-old Johnson Masango for IT training he decided to expand his business and help bridge the digital divide in Nkomazi, one of the most underdeveloped communities in Mpumalanga.
Today Masango, an entrant in the FNB/Enablis Launchpad Competition, is expanding his small company, TM-Internet Solutions, by opening up an IT training school in Johannesburg, while trying to raise sponsorships to train matriculants in Mpumalanga, in the basics of computer literacy.
Nkomazi is a few kilometers from the Swaziland border. Most people in the area live on under R10 a day; about 70percent of those who are employed earn less than R1000 a month; 90percent of the youth are unemployed and computer illiterate and, in fact, have no idea how to access computers.
"This is a huge disadvantage when they are trying to find jobs, as most jobs require computer literacy. They also can't afford computer literacy studies," he says.
Masango has been helping high schools in Mpumalanga with computer studies for the past four years.
He formed TM-Internet Solutions, which he registered this year, so that people could access computer literacy at affordable prices.
"But though the community wants these services, they still can't afford the prices even at those lower rates.
"I have also secured a relationship with a local FET college that operates as testing centre for the training we will be providing. The students don't just get computer literate but become amongst the best in the world. They can obtain an International Computer Driving Licence certificate and this opens many doors for them to get jobs or even study further to open their own IT training schools," Masango says.
While he is waiting for funding from sponsors Masango is also in the process of starting up a "one stop IT shop" on the corner of Commissioner Street and Rissik Street in Johannesburg. Here his team of three will be involved with computer repairs, upgrades, switching and routing configurations, maintenance, networking, trouble shooting and computer sales.
He is passionate about passing on IT and business skills to young people. "My dream has always been to be in business and IT. I want to teach them the basics first, how to use computers, how computers work and then for them to become IT specialists themselves. I'm a very motivated person, I always achieve what I set out to achieve."