Jobless graduates decide their own destinies


The dream of finally graduating after years of hard work and securing a job in a relevant industry seems in tatters, with many graduates finding themselves sitting at home, holding on to their certificates and cherishing memories of graduation day.

Across the country, many graduates have joined a movement called #HireAGraduate, which aims to raise public awareness of the high rate of unemployment among graduates.

This year the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy have left many people’s lives destroyed, with businesses forced to retrench to mitigate the economic effects of the lockdown.

Two Eastern Cape graduates, however, have opted not to sit idle, and instead decided to become their own bosses after they failed to secure a permanent job in their respective sectors.

Unathi Majangaza, 28, from New Brighton, who graduated with a BCom in economics from Fort Hare University, said being employed by someone was not the only option, and that one could build one’s own legacy.

“I was so excited after getting my degree. It built my self-confidence. I had hopes of working in economics,” she said.

“I had plans to take care of my family, and with that, I dedicated myself to apply for and secure a job.”

She applied everywhere in 2017, but was never called for a single interview.

Later, she stopped looking for a job and went back to a business she had shuttered when she went to pursue her degree.

“I had to take a risk and pushed the internet cafe, Mink Net Café (MNC), a business I started with two partners, Odwa Majangaza and Sinawo Majangaza, in 2013, with a single old PC and printer, in a small backyard single room, offering typing, printing and copying services.”

Majangaza said the following year the cafe closed when she went to do her degree.

It was not an easy decision to give up on finding a job and start a business, with the many risks and uncertainties involved.

“It was a difficult journey because people would demotivate us, and end up saying that the business ideas were not so good because people have their own data and laptops.”

She pushed to get funding from NYDA and, with the help of individuals who gave her guidance, the business got off the ground in 2019.

“Our goals are to expand the business, open branches outside our community and offer high-quality services at affordable prices,” she said.

She encouraged other young people to never give up and always be ready for a new challenge.

“You can be anything you want to be. We see there is a high rate of unemployment, so the only option we have is to start developing and being innovative,” Majangaza said.

Siyabulela Jordan, 37, from East London, who studied a general BCom at Rhodes University, said he struggled for years to get a steady job after graduating in 2007.

He now owns a funeral parlour.

“If at first you do not realise your dreams, go back to sleep and dream again. Never be afraid to start over and try again,” Jordan said.

His first job was as a finance manager at a travel agency.

“I then moved to Pick n Pay as a trainee franchisee from 2008 to 2010.

“Shortly after, there were fallouts with the owners. I was in a store in Bloemfontein and I had to move back to East London with a huge financial loss.

“Everything was repossessed and I found myself back to square one,” he said.

In 2012, he opened a takeaway shop and catered mostly for students, but due to a major strike at Walter Sisulu University, he did not make a profit and closed up the shop.

“I was unemployed for five years. I was applying for jobs to an extent that I threw away my degree and applied with my matric certificate for government posts.

“That was not working at all. I was not even receiving any feedback,” he said.

Jordan said he was a churchgoer and as a consequence attended a lot of funerals.

He noticed how many funeral parlours failed to do the job with dignity, and decided to join a parlour with the objective of helping make a change.  

“A year later, as I was working full-time for them, I became a majority shareholder and eventually, they sold the business to me.”

He has been running Sinoxolo funeral directors, based in East London, since 2017. It has more than 1,000 funeral policies.

“I understand it can be a shame as a graduate not to be aligned to what you’ve studied at school, but just don’t give up.

“You might say you know something or you love something and have passion for it, and that might not be the case,” he said, as other opportunities could present themselves.



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