In recent years South Africa has been rocked by a series of “Fees Must Fall” protests which has seen students across the country protest over rising tuition fees.
For most South Africans the cost of higher education is unaffordable. And for those lucky enough to afford the fees, or win a bursary or student aid, there is one more hurdle once they graduate — securing employment.
Enter University of Pretoria (UP) metallurgical engineering student Njabulo Mthanti (pictured above). He believes his startup Easyburse — which he founded in 2016 together with Mihlali Jordan and Herman Veremu — can address both problems.
The startup, which Mthanti registered last year at the age of 21, provides a platform where students can access and apply for bursaries on offer across multiple industries.
In addition, the startup also provides companies with access to its database of students that they can potentially recruit.
Much of the help the startup has received has come from UP’s TuksNovation, which has assisted the startup with mentorship around business strategies, business relationship management and legal aspects like trademarks and contracts.
TuksNovation also appointed a technical development officer to assist in the technical communications between Easyburse and its development team.
Currently the startup has two employees and five shareholders and has raised about R500 000 in funding to date, covering resources and development costs.
“This was achieved in 2018 through sourcing different software development companies and pitching Easyburse to them. We signed a shareholder’s agreement late in 2018 and launched Easyburse in January 2019,” says Mthanti.
Mthanti says Easyburse has been able to build a database of just under 3000 candidates from across the country and some neighbouring and Asian countries in less than six months
“These candidates are across a wide area of qualifications, some ranking up to PhD level,” he added.
Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust partnership
Earlier this year, the startup inked a partnership deal with the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET) which will allow prospective students to apply for the CRET Bursary programme.
“Through this we allow candidates to apply for the CRET bursary programme, but also give candidates who were not selected by CRET access to other opportunities,” Mthanti explains.
The partnership will also see Easyburse offer CRET access to a student management portal which features analytical data about student performance and which Mthanti says will assist with reporting.
Mthanti says the deal had been under discussion since the end of last year.
“I approached the CRET office telephonically and they directed me to their programme manager. I spoke to her requesting to meet with her on the same day. I remember her telling me that they cannot just grant me a meeting the same day, but I told her that I would stay in Johannesburg until she gets time.
“At around 2pm she sent me an email granting a 30-minute meeting which was the start of the journey that led to the partnership,” he says.
Mthanti says he and his co-founders are “excited and encouraged” that an organisation like CRET recognises the gap to opportunity and are making a change by partnering with Easyburse, pushing the motion that “every applicant matters”.
Imminent premium package launch
Later this year, Easyburse plans on launching a “premium package” for candidates which Mthanti says will include a soft skills development programme, and a CV generator among other things.
“Through the soft skills development programme, candidates will be able to address industry related interpersonal skills, as well as insight into how to better package themselves to diversify their appeal to employers,” he says.
The startup also aims to help with placing candidates in retail position in malls and also assists promotion companies source part time promoters around the country through its wide network.
Says Mthanti: “Our database is a continually growing element within our company, thus we aim to gain as many candidates as we can, thus enhancing the exposure of more and more youth to the opportunities available to them”.
The Anzisha Prize seeks to fundamentally and significantly increase the number of job generative entrepreneurs in Africa, and is a partnership between African Leadership Academy and Mastercard Foundation. Through Ventureburn, they hope to share inspirational and relatable stories of very young (15 to 22 year old) African entrepreneurs and the people that support them. [learn more]
Featured image: Easyburse co-founder and CEO Njabulo Mthanti