16 year old Thabiso Danisa is involved in a fruit salad business that was established in 2015 during his school holidays. Thabiso is from a disadvantaged background and he is doing Grade 9 at Mningi High school, in a village called Ntambanana in Durban. This business was started by Mr Themba Mabanga (55) which he says his aim was to help his loved ones financially. “I saw that by starting this business it would help my loved ones financially, give skills and provide employment for the youth since there’s a problem of unemployed youth.” He said. This has helped Thabiso financially and with his learning areas as well. Since he is doing Life orientation and Economics Management Sciences, (EMS) he is able to take the theory of the notes he is given during class into practice on weekends when he is at work. Life orientation teaches values, morals and good communication skills with the different people he meets. During EMS classes he learns how to manage money, do more sales and predict his probable profit or income based on the number of bowls he would have sold.

There are a lot of challenges as a 16 year old, dreams are not clear and focus is not consistent. With Thabiso that is not the case, he managed to buy himself school uniform, school shoes, books and stationery that he struggled for years to get because of the poor background that he comes from. “Being part of the business has made me independent, the freedom to make money and getting myself the things I have always wanted for myself. I understand my studies much better since my work relates to my studies and that helps me get better grades” says Thabiso.

Mr Mabanga says he met Thabiso when he started the business with his mother. “I met Thabiso through his mother I was working with when I started the business. I found out that he was very driven about his future and how he has big dreams for himself. Since he is in Kwazulu Natal, he does not have enough opportunities like the learners in Gauteng schools. I want what’s best for him.” Healthy eating has been a priority at schools and how learners must always have access to healthy food. The business sells fresh fruits every day and Thabiso gets to market the business with energy because he eats healthy. A healthy brain is a healthy body. “Bringing healthy food to schools is our aim as well, to broaden our business scale to different schools that principals approve.” Mr Mabanga elaborated.Apart from all the challenges and hinders, Thabiso has dreams of owning his business one day and employ people to work and create employment. Bab Mabanga also wants to see the business grow into other cities and provinces to continue helping young people make a difference in their lives.

The education system believes in giving learners all the time to study even after hours from school. However, Ms Hadebe, a teacher at Adult Centre has a different perspective on how learners involved in business can benefit in more ways than one. “Like Thabiso, this business has helped him buy himself school uniform, school books and stationery. He has overcome the challenges that come with poverty, and financial problems that he had but he has managed to overcome financial constraints. His mentor, meaning his boss, has kept him on a leash to keep him positive and independent and how to make a living without being exploited.”