The Amazing Race (E Squared-Style)

On 20th May 2022, E Squared staff members, Raees Hajat (Social Impact Officer) and Karabo Mohlala (Office Administrator), were sent on a mission to visit as many as possible of the Cape Town-based Social Entrepreneurship (SE) investees and investee potentials, to meet the people, hear their stories and document our impact.

Their first stop was at Word of Mouth (WOM), a pipeline investee. Word of Mouth has built South Africa’s first online marketplace exclusively serving township communities which stimulates local trade with local youth by building trust, building capacity, and enhancing connections.

The best way for us to describe WOM, is that they are the “Takealot” for township consumers, with deliveries made to their doorstep. WOM has recently expanded operations to Gauteng and are not stopping there. With 303 youth entrepreneurs onboarded to sell on their marketplace platform, and a fleet of drivers in their distribution network, they are fast becoming a household name for bringing the latest fashion to township doorsteps across the country.

Raees and Tayla at Word of Mouth

WeThinkCode’s Woodstock campus was the next stop. WeThinkCode (WTC), known for training highly-skilled software developers who are absorbed into corporate South Africa, is bridging the many tech gaps faced in the country.

Karabo had the pleasure of interviewing Rio, a second-year student assisting with the final stage of the student training boot camp, designed to identify students eligible for the two-year programme.

Karabo and Rio at WeThinkCode’s Woodstock Campus

Rio notes that compared to traditional teaching methods and learning in bigger institutions, the peer-to-peer interaction offered at WTC is where the true value lies. First year students are mentored by second years allowing for the formation of stronger connections as mentors and students relate to one another more. The mentors, having  been on the same journey, understand the challenges first year’s may face.

Excited at the prospect of completing his studies at WTC, Rio is still deciding whether to pursue a work placement or apply for WTC’s new entrepreneurial program. WTC’s entrepreneurial programme has been recently invested into by E Squared.  The pilot programme is testing out an alternate pathway for students keen to start their own tech businesses.

Bootcamp applicants at the Woodstock WeThinkCode campus in Cape Town.

The last stop was at the Amazi Collective, also in Woodstock. E Squared SE investee Amazi SheTribe provides vocational, digital and life skills training to women looking to kickstart or build a beauty career for themselves through one of Amazi’s skills development pathways. Elsa, Amazi’s head of Marketing shared one of their struggles, of increased dropout rates of participants due to gender-based violence that was experienced due to lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Karabo was encouraged that the Amazi team identified this social injustice issue, and how they are exploring ways in which they can bring light to the problem.

AMAZI Collective Woodstock

For Karabo who spends her days in the office supporting the E Squared team to execute on their efficiently, it was an invaluable opportunity to be in the field and see the impact that social enterprises like Amazi, Word of Mouth, and WeThinkCode are making in their communities, and how her work feeds into that. “It was heart-warming to experience first-hand the work that our Social Entrepreneurship team does at E Squared, and how my contribution helps provide access to work opportunities,” says Karabo