Momentum Metropolitan Holdings (formerly MMI Holdings) is a South African-based financial services group that integrates its corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives through the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation (MMF). The Foundation aims to enable the life aspirations and sustainable earning potential of youth through employment programmes, job placement and financial literacy.
The growing number of young people of a working age in developing countries can either exacerbate or improve poverty rates, depending on their economic participation. South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030 recognises that the future of this country depends on youth who are employed and empowered to contribute to the country’s economic growth. MMF’s CSI strategy, implemented in 2018, strives for the realisation of this goal by addressing the youth unemployment crisis. More than half of young people aged between 15 and 34 years are not in employment, education or training according to Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey Q2: 2019.
MMF aims to economically activate this population through a focused and holistic approach, developing youth employability, aligned to the eighth United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal. Helping to grow a sustained workforce also ensures future customers and employees.
Since July 2018 a total of 669 young people who participated in employment and skills development programmes supported by MMF have been placed in various entry-level jobs.
Future-proofing for the digital economy
MMF emphasises the importance of technical and digital skills in order to remain globally competitive and to meet the needs of the future of work. To this end, MMF supports two organisations that help to ensure the tech and overall job-readiness of youth.
WeThinkCode offers digital skills training through an innovative peer-to-peer learning model and placed 98% of its 2018 cohort into sustainable employment. In line with MMF’s commitment to foster an inclusive and equal workforce, the Foundation is piloting a WomenThinkCode initiative with the organisation which will focus on developing young women in technology.
Salesian Life Choices Academy, which provides state-of-the-art job training programmes to give school-leavers the direction needed to land meaningful and well-paid jobs, is also supported by MMF.
The Foundation’s support of projects that enable youth to take their place in the digital economy is complemented with vocational skills training.
Vocational skills development
MMF believes that by investing in vocational skills development that contributes to job security or ongoing income generation, young people will be supported to break the cycle of poverty. Through its partnership with non-profit organisation, Rhiza Babuyile, 793 youth received vocational skills training, with 525 placed in jobs in 2019. Acknowledging that social and health challenges often impede young people’s abilities to learn, Rhiza Babuyile’s holistic approach to youth development includes health services that run parallel to education programming.
Through business incubation with Rhiza Babuyile, Josephine Morake has been able to better define her business offering and purpose of creating employment in the Diepsloot Community. “I am determined to succeed and move Diepsloot forward. I aim to deliver the best service. Giving PURPLE JM SERVICES an opportunity within your organisation benefits the community members who will be employed to carry out these services. This will help with job creation and access to sustainable income, in turn curbing the crime rate and improving the socioeconomic state of the township.”
Ubuntu Pathways’ comprehensive service model recognises that young people’s success and employability are linked to their development in childhood, including their access to quality education, healthcare and psychosocial support. MMF partners with this organisation to provide vocational training that supports youth to get and retain jobs. Ubuntu Pathways has a nearly 70% placement success rate.
Sparrow FET College delivers skills development that is aligned to industry requirements, ensuring the likelihood of employment for its students. During their studies youth also have access to psychosocial support services and job coaching. MMF and Sparrow FET College’s 2019 partnership has provided 124 unemployed youth with accredited training and learnerships.
MMF’s commitment to supporting job creation takes into account the different experiences of differently-abled people. The Foundation supports the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) which provides business administration training for young people with quadriplegia and paraplegia. QASA has a 92% placement success rate, leveraging and supporting its network of business partners to ensure diverse and inclusive workforces.
By participating in QASA’s work-readiness programmes, supported by MMF, Mohammed Khan has been able to gain important skills and confidence. He is currently completing his matric through the QASA education fund and is on an internship. “Thanks to the QASA work-readiness programme, I am motivated to become the best version of myself”.
Creative approaches to financial literacy at school
MMF’s youth employment strategy includes financial literacy programming to support long-term financial wellness. The Foundation supports Motheo Financial Dialogues which targets technical, and vocational education and training students, preparing them to properly manage their finances as they enter the world of work. Since the beginning of 2019 over 1 000 young people have benefited from interactive financial literacy workshops.
By seeding financial education within schools the Foundation is able to foster healthy financial habits and positive attitudes towards money among youth. In 2015 the Foundation rolled out its Making Money Matter financial literacy board game to grade nine learners in Gauteng. The board game is currently in ten schools across South Africa and aims to assist learners to make well-informed transactional choices by demonstrating the impact of different financial decisions.
MMF supports financial literacy and ignites entrepreneurial habits among high school learners with MetroKickstarz, a sneaker business simulation that teaches the basics of financial and business management. By August 2019, 2 203 high school learners had already benefited from MMF’s consumer education programming.
A refocused strategy that draws lessons from challenges
Following an in-depth review period, MMF embarked on a carefully considered exit strategy, which included honest conversations and clearly negotiated and communicated notice periods, to reduce the number of organisations that it supported from 36, down to six key implementing partners that would contribute significantly and holistically to the Foundation’s revitalised youth employment strategy. Fewer strategic partnerships enable MMF to be more proactively involved with and responsive to the specific needs of these organisations.
During its strategy transition period, the Foundation quickly learnt that the numbers drawn from its monitoring and evaluation processes tell an important story. What at face value may appear to be negative outcomes is in fact important information to understand the underlying issues that deter implementing partners and the communities that they serve from reaching their full potential. High dropout rates, for example, demonstrate the need to consider the individual set of circumstances of each impacted learner and to work with intervention models that incorporate softer skills and support services.
After reviewing the low potential earnings in some of the skills development courses offered by their implementing partners, MMF revised its expectations of well-paid IT and ICT roles as a key outcome. Far too many young people who have not had access to quality education or the opportunities to attain the necessary life skills to fully understand the complexities of the working environment are in need of immediate work that can help to support their households. Spurred by this sense of urgency, the Foundation’s youth employment drive has expanded to include vocational and life skills development that may lead to lower-paying jobs, but can help to avert the country’s current unemployment crisis. Shorter vocational skills offerings and accreditation processes are able to yield a higher number of beneficiaries who are able to access the job market more quickly.
Charlene Lackay | Group CSI Manager email@example.com www.momentummetropolitan.co.za