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Thapelo Edwin Mwale Letlhabile Information Technology Centre, North West

Thapelo Edwin Mwale (26) was one of the beneficiaries of the Absa-funded IT Skills programme. Participants attended a business simulation programme (the BEST Game) in 2013 for five days. Participants were then selected based on a number of criteria and had to compile a business plan for an IT centre and present it to a panel of judges. Four candidates out of a total of 40 were selected to manage and co-own the centre.

Thapelo Mwale was one of them. He can be described as a young man with staying-power and the determination to succeed in business regardless of the challenges along the way. Thapelo entered the IT programme with no previous business experience. He grew up in Letlhabile and worked at TD Marketing in Pretoria as a distributor for a number of years. His dream has always been to be a business owner and he believes information technology is an important platform to educate and develop young people in particular. He is passionate about teaching the broader community – things from basic literacy to advanced computer skills – so that youth can take up their rightful place in society.

Lethlabile IT Centre officially opened its doors in August 2014, but not before Thapelo and fellow partners dealt with a range of business issues. It took them several months to find premises, and during this time that one of the four partners decided to leave the business. After several months of hard work and bringing in new clients, Thapelo believed the business had finally ‘turned the corner’. Sadly the premises, housed in a smart steel container, were burgled and several computers and accessories
were stolen.

This may have been enough to set any person back, but not Thapelo! The young man has shown more determination than ever before and said in the aftermath: “I worked too hard for this place and I am not going to give up now.”

When asked how the programme has helped him, Thapelo answered: “It made me realise how important education is and that everyone needs to be computer literate regardless of age. The simulation business training programme made me realise how to be responsible and how to think out of the box and create opportunities in my community and for myself.”

Asked if there was any aspect he would like to highlight, he simply added: “I have learned (in this business) to take charge and be able to make quick decisions and solve problems.”

The centre operates on a full time basis and is open six days a week. It offers courses such as: IT for Beginners, Introduction to Basic Computing, Word processing, Spreadsheets/Excel, Presentations/PowerPoint, Database and Internet/Email.

The following are just some of the business’s achievements to date:

• 35 students have completed their training since doors officially opened in October 2014
• 13 school learners between the ages of 8 and 15 currently attend Saturday classes in Basic Computing
• 28 students are now in training completing various courses on offer.

For marketing purposes, Thapelo uses brochures, social networking, banners, posters, radio, sms and the website to convey his businesses offerings. In addition he makes personal contact with schools and various institutions to promote the business. He also has other creative ideas that he is exploring at the moment, one of which is to introduce educational software programmes for schools where subjects such as Maths, Science and Accounting can be tutored in software format from the centre.