Official data shows that 70% of young people in South Africa work for firms employing less than 50 people and research indicates that some 90% of new jobs will be created in small and expanding firms – at present firms hiring less than 50 employees already account for 68% of private employment.
Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a public-private partnership that has placed 10,000 young people in sustainable employment, provides an SME-focused offering to its employer base because we recognise the potential that these businesses have to provide opportunities to young people who are hungry for work.
Harambee has partnered with over 100 large and small South African companies in the retail, hospitality, financial services, insurance, business process outsourcing, technical and industrial sectors. Harambee, a not-for-profit company, seeks to partner with employers who have entry-level recruitment needs.
Harambee effectively connects employers seeking entry-level talent to young, high-potential work-seekers who are currently locked out of the formal economy. This is achieved by creating a “network” to connect employers and first-time work seekers. Harambee recruits candidates where existing recruitment networks do not reach, assesses their competencies, and matches them to jobs where they are most likely to succeed.
Candidates that display a sufficiently high level of learning potential are invited to attend high quality work readiness programmes that directly address the risks identified by employers. Harambee works to ensure that candidates are “ready for work” by actively encouraging behaviours such as curiosity, energy and positive attitude, together with the disciplines of punctuality and attendance.
Harambee has learnt how the needs of small businesses sometimes differ from large corporates:
SMEs don’t necessarily have their own HR departments and therefore need more support
Without the established human resources infrastructure of bigger organisations, SME’s often need support in establishing proper hiring procedures, onboarding processes, and support to build a successful relationship with a new employee. We also find that employers are unaware that they can tap into various incentives (e.g. youth tax incentive) that are available from government. Harambee is able to support and coach employers on how to access these incentives.
Harambee has successfully supported a wide range of SMEs, including insurance brokerages, hospitality companies, call centres and office administration, by providing them with an HR Toolkit and an HR coaching service.
SMEs are sometimes hesitant to hire outside of their personal networks
Unlike larger firms, SMEs tend to be managed by their owners who understand that chemistry and organizational fit, are especially vital in firms with small numbers of staff. When hiring, SME owners want to ensure the people they hire reflect their culture and values and that they can do the work that they are being hired to do. This means historically they looked to their own networks for staff, using in particular, word-of-mouth recommendations as their main recruitment channel – and are reluctant to fill a role if they don’t trust the source recommending potential staff to them.
Harambee uses a proven screening and assessment methodology to scientifically match candidates to suitable opportunities thereby reducing the risk of hiring an unknown candidate. Harambee’s highly developed matching service provides a solution that gives SME owners confidence they are interviewing candidates that are a fit for their business.
From a recruitment perspective, SMEs may be unable to effectively screen large volumes of potential applicants to find the right new staff. They therefore seek to minimise the number of applicants to avoid this problem, potentially missing out on good employees. Harambee’s matching solution ensures they are able to consider a much wider pool of talent than they could access on their own.
SMEs benefit from additional help onboarding young employees to ensure everyone is set up for success
Once an SME decides to hire, we have learned they benefit from support to ensure successful onboarding. Harambee is using experience gained in servicing large organisations to look at how to create post-placement support for both employee and employer. This includes a toolkit for SMEs with all the paperwork, forms and other information they need to manage a formal employment relationship.
Furthermore, new employees also get “live” support from Harambee to help them make the transition into their new jobs and to help with some of the unique challenges of working in a small business like playing many different roles in the business and having to manage with less induction, training and employee support than what may be provided in a large corporate environment. We believe these experiences will help young people prepare themselves for the realities of entrepreneurship and what it really takes to make a small business succeed.
How is the Harambee model working for SMEs?
Early feedback shows that Harambee is innovating to successfully meet the needs of SME employers.
One employer commented on a new Harambee hire by saying, “he has become the most important person in the team … he does whatever he can to respond to requests, and approaches each task with real Harambee enthusiasm and energy … What excites us the most is his passion for learning and jumping into anything that helps the team and helps him grow“.
Another employer who runs an independent cinema had real issues recruiting via newspapers for his front of house roles. As his need was urgent, he decided to give Harambee a try and with only two days notice, Harambee presented three matched candidates to him for interviews. He hired two and the third interviewee (for whom he didn’t have a vacancy at the time of interview) was invited to join a few days later as the employer didn't want to let him get away!
To be a part of Harambee’s journey to grow a pipeline of talent for small businesses and potential future entrepreneurs for South Africa contact us.
For more information, contact:
Tel: 011 593 0505
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