‘We are more than capable of being value-adding members of society; we just need a chance’
Ensuring a future for the youth of South Africa is the main priority of the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation (MMF). Not only does it support youth from vulnerable backgrounds in gaining valuable skills to increase their employability, it also creates opportunities for them in the organisation.
Lona Mnyameni, 22, from the Eastern Cape is one such individual who took on the opportunity presented by the Foundation and has been working at Momentum Investments as a digital analyst for the past two years. Mnyameni was a student at WeThinkCode, a software development training academy. During this time she attended a seminar and learned more about the work of MMH.
“To complete my studies at WeThinkCode I had to do an internship. I attended a Women in Tech seminar and software developers from Momentum Investments were presenting. I found them very inspirational and instantly knew that I would like to do my internship with MMH.”
Every year, Momentum Metropolitan hosts several interns from WeThinkCode to help them gain valuable workplace experience. Many of these interns are eventually offered permanent placement in the company. Most of the youth supported by the programme come from disadvantaged backgrounds, which means that their parents are mostly unable to pay for their studies and they have limited access to mentors who can offer them career advice. These young people are often left with limited options in terms of choosing a career.
That is why the MMF programme is so valuable; it gives young people a chance at a successful future. In addition to helping young people acquire digital skills through the WeThinkCode programme, MMF also sponsors programmes that help young people start their own business and offers programmes that teach vocational skills to disadvantaged youth.
Mnyameni, like many of her peers at WeThinkCode, had to work hard to realise her dreams. Her parents were able to pay her initial registration fee, but they were unable to fund her studies. She persevered and ensured that she did well enough to earn bursaries. When she joined Momentum Investments, she was busy with a Master’s degree at another institution.
“I was well on my way to achieving my dreams,” she says, “but I had no idea what to expect when I entered a corporate environment for the first time. I didn’t know how to dress, how to act or how to communicate with my fellow employees. This is where Momentum Investments played a huge role in teaching me how to become a young professional. I had a mentor who gently guided me and taught me everything I needed to know about a corporate environment. They also shared their insight in terms of what you can do with your qualifications, how to set goals and how to map out a future for yourself. These lessons were invaluable, and I now have good sense of what I want out of my career and where I see myself in the future.”
Mnyameni dreams of being a future start-up founder. “I would love to ‘pay it forward’ one day and help kids who are facing the same challenges that I did, and give them opportunities to make a success of their lives.”
Mnyameni would also like to see more corporates sponsoring and offering internships to graduates who lack workplace experience. “There are many graduates who are working hard to reach their dreams. Corporates can offer them mentorship and internship opportunities ; all they need is someone to open a door for them so they can take their next step.
“Corporate sponsorships offer students tuition-free training and workplace experience. As a graduate from such an institution, I can attest that, as youth, we yearn for places where we can attain valuable skills without the burden of tuition. We are more than capable of being value-adding members of society; we just need a chance.”