Makana youth build blocks to their success

AUGUST 4, 2014
Members of the Lilitha Quality Blocks, a brickmaking cooperative based in Grahamstown, in the Makana Local Municipality, from left to right, Portia Dondashe, Mfundo Jezana, Khayalethu Gedana, Nombulelo Budaza, Mlungisi Gedana and Mandilakhe Dyasi.

They say that there are three kinds of people in this world: people who make it happen, people who watch as it happens, and people who wonder what happened. A group of young people from Grahamstown, in the Makana Local Municipality, fall into the first category.

The six previously unemployed youths, Khayalethu Gedana (founder and chairperson), Portia Dondashe, Mfundo Jezana, Nombulelo Budaza, Mlungisi Gedana and Mandilakhe Dyasi are on the verge of a launching a brickmaking cooperative that they started themselves.

Dubbed Lilitha Quality Blocks, the project aims to take advantage of the expected boom in the local construction sector by moulding good quality bricks.

Expected to be fully operational by the middle of July, founder, Gedana, said that he hopes that the project will go a long way in alleviating poverty, youth unemployment and crime in his community.

“We wanted to create job opportunities for the youth of our area, not only as a means of providing them with an income, but also keep them busy and to help prevent crime,” said Gedana.

He said that they were being supported by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in realising their goals. These, according to Gedana, include expanding capacity to be able to supply even the big building contractors in the Eastern Cape Province as well as to create more job opportunities for many previously unemployed young people.

“Not only do we want to provide good quality bricks and blocks, but we are also looking into how we can provide services that go with construction such as welding,” he said.

He said, like every entrepreneurial venture, starting their cooperative was not easy. The members faced challenges such as not having enough initial capital to launch the project.

However, Gedana encouraged other young aspiring entrepreneurs from around the Cacadu District not to be dissuaded but to make the best of the resources they might have at their disposal.

“I would say to them that it’s time to wake up and try to do as much as you can to help yourself, your community and to make your parents and family proud,” he said.