Using social media as an employment creation strategy for students in Durban was explored in a study by Mr Thobelani Mdluli for his Master’s degree in Development Studies.
Said Mdluli: ‘Youth unemployment has long perplexed both developed and developing countries, reaching new heights recently, particularly in South Africa. Now there appears to be a shift in how young people are using social media to combat the problem.’
His study found that the social media entrepreneurs he interviewed did not make money online like bloggers and social media personalities, instead using social media for advertising.
Mdluli says his research showed that student entrepreneurs use social media because it is cheaper than the traditional methods of advertising and it also helps entrepreneurs collaborate with other small business owners. ‘Time efficiency and target market availability are among some of the social media advantages while finance and changing customer interest are disadvantages.
‘When participants conducted business online, they stood a chance of becoming victims to hackers, fraudsters, perverts and bullies,’ said Mdluli. ‘Youth entrepreneurs should employ various social media sites to cater for various consumers to combat cyber-crimes and work on building stronger client relationships. There should also be a collaboration between the government and the private sector and NGOs, to connect youth to the ideas of the private sector,’ said Mdluli.
While studying Mdluli worked as a mechanic. ‘I was a full-time student but would get late callouts to far-flung locations when I was supposed to be focusing on my thesis!’
He was thrilled to graduate. ‘It’s an incredible feeling because this has been a difficult but rewarding journey. Many people begin but never finish – thankfully I was able to complete it. I am proud of myself.’
He thanked his family, friends and supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj for their support
Mdluli had this message for other students: ‘This journey will demotivate and negatively affect you at times but keep going – quitting is never an option.’
He plans to pursue his PhD next year.