EWET (THE EDUCATION WITH ENTERPRISE TRUST) grew out of a community need.

The story begins in the Harrismith district of the north-eastern Free State. The year, 1991.
This is high country. Sheep and farming country where you drop down through the Drakensberg mountain on your way to Kwa-Zulu Natal. No heavy commerce or industry here. Just swirling morning mists and clear mountain air.

The need? A community fast becoming unable to support the employment needs of their growing number or local school leavers.

Determined to find a way of helping the youth make more of their lives, a group of like-minded people formed a steering committee and dedicated the following 3 years to investigating what could be done.
Consultation and research was carried out amongst numerous interested individuals and organisations. Both here and overseas. This led to the formation of The Education With Enterprise Trust (EWET) and the birth of the Youth Enterprise Society (YES), a uniquely South African concept, with its mission being:


Or in other words, guiding young people to become business creators rather than simply job seekers.

The YES concept.

In their search for a workable concept, two key criteria kept merging.
Firstly, on the assumption that funding would always be in short supply, it was determined that the programme had to be community based and community driven in order for it to survive.
Secondly, the whole package had to be so simple that it could be easily and confidently replicated anywhere. Hence its tightly structured “systems” approach.

It is thus similar to a franchise operation with a local community applying for and becoming the franchisee, but other than a small start-up cost, with no fees attached.

Typically involved are local business people, academics, trade union representatives and other interested parties. And always a local “Project Champion” who motivates, pushes and when necessary gently bullies everyone to get the job done.

The programme takes the form of a weekly extramural school activity for pupils during grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 (standards 6, 7, 8 and 9). Certain of the school’s teaching staff are EWET trained as programme facilitators and the students’ progress is evaluated and graded on an ongoing basis by adjudication teams from the local business community.

1994/6: Pilot Programme

The initial pilot project involved EWET’s motivation, guidance and eventual accreditation of two community franchisees: now termed “Local Partnerships”, or LP’s. This involved gaining a commitment amongst 167 business people, labour union representatives, community leaders and educationists in the two regions.

By the start of the 1994 school year these two LP’s had between them initiated 8 YES Societies, comprising of 290 school pupils, 15 unemployed out of school youths and 31 teachers trained as YES Advisors. Throughout that first year the YES Members (students) organised and participated in 415 extramural working sessions, during which they executed activities designed to help them achieve “pass levels” in various prescribed business competencies.

Since then another two community LP’s have been accredited, a further 4000 teachers trained and three hundred more YES Societies initiated. Bringing the total at the end of 2013 to 326. There are now nearly 900 school children participating in the YES programme, with a further 10 new LP applications currently being processed.

With the national launch of this programme in September, 1996, EWET’s projection for the year 2020 is:

LP’s …………………………………. 128
YES Societies ………………………. 505
YES Members ……………………… 297 945
YES Advisors ………………………. 39 944
YES Graduates …………………….. 70 710

What’s good for Harrismith is now good for South Africa.

With an estimated 60% of the total South African population being under 16 years of age and fewer than 10% of the current 1.7 million annual school leavers able to find employment, the national roll-out of the YES Programme will play an important role in helping more and more of our youth lead productive and meaningful lives.

Ewet’s structure and role.
A non-government organisation (NGO), EWET is a registered as a Public Benefit Organisation and as a Non-Profit Organisation with an official national fund-raising number.

Its mission is to empower people, through enterprise, to become the masters of their own destinies and in addition to the national expansion of the Entrepreneurship Education’s (EE) YES Programme together with the PDM program:

  • Partnerships for Development Models (PDM): a process that serves as a catalyst in a municipal area or rural district for the formation of a partnership between Local Government, the Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations in order to ensure full participation of the community in democracy, leading to successes in development at local level.
  • Business Assistance Service: designed to provide newly started business people with management and technical training, counselling, experience exchange opportunities and general mentorship advice and support.

EWET has a permanent staff of seven who, under the supervision of the Chief Executive Officer, report to a Board of Trustees.

Financed mostly through fund-raising, EWET is audited annually by outside auditors. Trustees: Mohlomi Moloi, Mama Khumalo, Lebohang Shabe, Molapo Jonathan, Mike Mahase, Thapedi Tlhapane, Nomshado Matselane and Ponthso Makhetha.

In terms of day to day operations, the EWET staff perform the following functions:

  • EWET office operations management
  • Fund-raising initiation and follow-up.
  • Financial administration and reporting, including two additional interim audits each year.
  • Marketing, including networking, workshops and conferences.
  • Partnership building.
  • Achieving a high level of self-sustainability.
  • Participation in National/International youth enterprise development initiatives.
  • Staff development.
  • YES Programme teacher training.
  • Programme/s design and development.
  • Programme materials development.
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Tracking of programme participants, both current and past.
  • Developing co-operation and leadership.
  • Provide accessible resources to stakeholders.


Leave a Comment