MTN Invests E160 000 Towards Eswatini Youth Empowerment Programme

By Phiwa Sikhondze

MTN Eswatini, through its Foundation, has invested a sum of E160 000 towards the Eswatini Youth Empowerment Programme (EYEP) to bolster the training of out-of-school young people to gain trade-based skills.

MTN Chief Executive Officer, Wandile Mtshali, announced this contribution when he handed over the cheque to UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Gita Welch, at the UN House today.

Speaking at the event attended by MTN management and staff, UNDP officials and members of the media, Mtshali said that since the launch of the MTN Foundation in 2006, MTN has invested millions in various corporate social investment initiatives covering education, health, enterprise development and national priorities.

At the core of MTN’s Ambition 2025, is ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) and shared value creation with MTN operations. The MTN Foundation is one other vehicle used to partner with development partners and various communities in the country, through empowerment programmes and national priorities. One of the MTN Foundation’s pillars speaks to youth empowerment.

The MTN Foundation seized this opportunity to play a role in improving the country’s economic recovery process and to support the development of young people and youth entrepreneurs who will contribute to the acceleration of economic activities going forward.

The CEO noted that as a company they are thrilled to embark on a partnership with UNDP which ensures that Eswatini youth are upskilled.  Mtshali further encouraged the youth to make use of the MTN Skills Academy platform, where they can access free courses on digital and financial skills from accredited institutions around the world.

“This platform allows users to tailor their experience to meet their specific needs, whether they are sight impaired, hearing impaired, or experiencing other cognitive or neurodivergent challenges. 2500 licenses are available for the youth to take advantage of, made available for free by the MTN Foundation.”

In response, Dr Welch expressed her appreciation to the MTN Foundation adding that the investment will go a long way towards upscaling the EYEP Artisanal Skills Training which is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Training, Municipalities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training centres. She also acknowledged the importance of the private sector in playing a significant role towards supporting the country in addressing development challenges such as youth unemployment.

“It’s evident that development issues such as youth unemployment are not just issues that should be left to the government and development partners, but require a multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral approach which is the cornerstone of the National Development Plan,” she said.

Since the rollout of the programme in 2023, EYEP has supported 360 non-graduate youth from Ezulwini, Nhlangano, Mankayane and Siteki to gain skills in sewing, upholstery, metalwork, electrical installation, building and construction and plumbing. The first cohort of 90 artisans under Ezulwini Municipality graduated in September 2023 and some have started small businesses in their communities while others are undergoing internships at various organizations to hone their skills.

EYEPresults from a partnership between the Government, UNDP, private sector, municipalities, and tertiary institutions. Under its graduate placement component, EYEP supported the placement of 250 graduate interns in over 70 institutions where they gained skills and experience for six months while earning a monthly stipend.

The programme also received support from the Government to the tune of E17 Million, CocaCola-CONCO at E1 Million and the Public Service Pension Fund at E600 000.

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