BIDVEST Bank has invested in a renewable energy programme to empower the next generation of youth and black entrepreneurs in KwaZulu Natal. This forms part of the bank’s enterprise development programme that strives to upskill youth in the installation of rooftop solar energy.
Through this programme, the youth and business owners will receive comprehensive solar installation training, facilitated by Solana Energy, ensuring they possess the necessary skills to safely and professionally deliver solar installations. To be eligible for training, applicants must have a qualification in the engineering sector.
Solana Energy, located in Richards Bay, will provide small business owners with a range of support services, including coaching, mentorship, capacity-building and access to business opportunities. Participants will also gain fundamental business skills, such as marketing, pricing, financial management, and bookkeeping.
Programme graduates form Northern Solar Solutions
A major highlight is that a group of five entrepreneurs who completed the Solana Academy training have formed a collaborative entity called Northern Solar Solutions. As part of an agreement with Bidvest Bank, Northern Solar Solutions will hire 20 of the trained installers, while Solana Energy has absorbed the remaining five into their company.
Percy Phakathi, a programme attendee and business owner, expressed the importance of professionalism in running a successful business. “Working alone as a business owner comes with challenges and requires skills. With the help we are receiving from the academy, we are prepared to overcome any obstacles in building a sustainable business with our newly established consortium. Thanks to all the parties involved, we have already created over 20 employment opportunities for youth in our province, contributing to poverty reduction.”
Bidvest Bank’s transformation manager, Pauline Choshane, highlighted the company’s commitment to providing training and development opportunities for youth. Choshane stated, “Through this programme, we will develop a pipeline of skills for the future as the demand for solar energy continues to grow. We are eager to witness the growth and progress of participants in the coming months.”
Amanda Mkhize, a trainee with a National Diploma in Electrical Engineering, expressed her enthusiasm for learning about solar installations. She shared her confidence in quoting and installing solar systems under supervision. Mkhize also wished for Solana Energy’s growth and the creation of more employment opportunities. Lastly, she encouraged the youth to stay focused and seize opportunities to combat poverty.
Zakhele Ntuli, one of the first cohort members to sign a contract with the newly established business, praised Solana Energy for providing vital skills training and rated their efforts 10 out of 10. He recognised the importance of renewable energy, considering the current energy challenges facing the country.