Over half of the youth in South Africa are unemployed. Take a moment to let that sink in. If you are a young person seeking employment in South Africa, you are more likely than not to not find a job. According to the South African government, the official youth unemployment rate is 55.2%. Like any statistic, youth unemployment hits different populations more acutely and in South Africa, it is young women and refugees who are disproportionately affected.
Nina Francisco knows this problem all too well. She was born in Angola, but due to a protracted civil war, her family fled the country when she was 7 years old. She grew up in South Africa among refugees and immigrants. She said, “High unemployment rates and lack of access to appropriate employment are seemingly no-win challenges for South African women and female refugees from nearby nations. Women are more likely to be dependent on a spouse, friends or NGOs. They are less likely to earn an income than men.” It is especially difficult for refugees. Anti-immigrant sentiment has seen a resurgence in South Africa lately. In March of this year, a group of 100 protesters forced more than 50 immigrants out of their homes and looted and burned their shops. As we’ve seen in the U.S., when people are unemployed they tend to blame recent arrivals to the county, and not macro-economic trends, for their lack of a job.
Nina Francisco turned to entrepreneurship to solve this problem. Her natural skincare brand, Nina Malanje, isn’t just committed to giving you a healthy glow, it wants to solve the unemployment crisis for young women and female refugees in South Africa. The company sources all of their ingredients regionally and handcrafts their products in Johannesburg.
Luckily, Francisco is working with the wind at her back. Over the past decade she has seen opportunities increase for women. “There are more networks that offer resources to women to launch and grow businesses. And more women are overcoming the barriers to owning businesses because they are more confident in taking risks and have access to financing and resources,” she said. Francisco has had the support of the Harambe Entrepreneurial Allianceto take her promising business from the startup to growth phase.
“Our mission is to help women in Africa thrive by giving them the skills and tools needed to succeed as business women.”