YOUTH JOINS E1.4 BILLION COOP. INDUSTRY TO BEAT UNEMPLOYMENT
Lihlahlandlela Multi-purpose Cooperative chairman Lungelo Mdluli

YOUTH JOINS E1.4 BILLION COOP. INDUSTRY TO BEAT UNEMPLOYMENT

The recent Third Africa Youth Cooperative Conference held at the George Hotel has encouraged the participation
of young people in cooperatives, in a bid to eliminate unemployment among young people. Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) in Eswatini are socially important Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFIs), although the
size of their consolidated balance sheet is relatively small in relation to the size of the other financial institutions. SACCOs greatly improve the living standards of their members and ensure that members have easy access to affordable credit. This fundamentally supports financial inclusion efforts and has great potential to benefit the wider economy over time. Lihlahlandlela Multi-Purpose Cooperative is run by out-of-school youth who are determined to change the financial and economic landscape of the country. Speaking during an exclusive interview with this publication, one of the founders and chairman of Lihlahlandlel Multi-purpose Cooperative, Lungelo Mdluli, said youth cooperatives were definitely a real avenue for young people to fight the many social ills brought by
unemployment. “Other than fighting unemployment, youth cooperatives are a more important way to foster a culture of self-determination, thus driving financial inclusion,” said Mdluli. According to the Central Bank of Eswatini’s Financial Stability Report, as at December 2017, the SACCO industry had a total of E1.4 billion worth of assets, most of them consisting of loans to its respective members. The ratio of NPLs to total loans has shown a steady decline in the past two years and stood at 1.8 percent as at December 2017. Mdluli added that one of the benefits of joining a youth cooperative was the high access to financial services, which is what the Centre for Financial
Inclusion was striving for. Mdluli said youth cooperatives meet needs that are currently not being met in the
marketplace, from quality products and services to better prices and outstanding customer service. Advising young people on joining youth cooperatives, Mdluli said the power of group economics was very important. He said young people should come up and join or start their own youth cooperatives. ‘’It is wiser for young people to start
taking action now, more especiallyfor those who are still in high school as they will have enough to save for
their tertiary education,” he said. Furthermore, Mdluli urged the youth not to only focus on one thing such as
cooperatives, but to also have other sources of income that they would rely on. Mdluli is also the co-founder
of a family business called Yedwa (Pty) Ltd, which supplies cement blocks, river sand and plaster.

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