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Umtsentse Youth Workers Co-op Society Ltd – “Working Together to Help Others”

Students from the Co-operative College of Swaziland first came up with the idea of starting a youth co-operative in 2008 as the co-operative movement was deteriorating, with multi-purpose and consumer co-operatives dormant and inefficient. There was a high unemployment rate amongst young people, plus ageing membership in the co-operative sector and very few young people were aware of what a co-operative was and its benefits.

Students preparing for their final exams decided to form a co-operative to address the crisis in the co-operative movement, at the same time as helping alleviate poverty, hitting on the idea of self employment through a workers’ co-operative where they would use their collective skills and knowledge of the co-operative movement to make an impact.

Twenty students got involved after graduating with a Certificate in Business and Co-operative Management and the Umtsentse Youth Workers Co-op Society was fully registered in March 2009.

Umtsentse member Tese Dlamini explains:

“In Swazi, Umtsentse is the name of an African wild grass which is small but has sharp leaves that hurt when you step on it. We came up with the name from the inspiration of the grass. We compare ourself to it: we are young and vibrant and if a person wants to step on us or put us down He/she wont be able because we have a dream and a vision and we want to see it come through fulfilled.”

The society’s mission statement is “the empowerment of youth entrepreneurship through the concept of a co-operative business enterprise for their self development and reliance based on co-operative values and principles”.

By 2015, it aims to have “inspired, educated, enlightened at least 70% of the unemployed youth about co-operatives”.

The society also wants to teach young people, women and disabled people about co-operatives and their benefits through school or youth co-operatives formed to meet their social, cultural, political and economical aspirations in democratically controlled enterprise organizations.

The society also plans to help and encourage its members in improved methods of agriculture, business, general affairs and co-operative principles.