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Ayanda Mjwara

Ayanda Mjwara, 29, pulled himself out of abject poverty to become the owner of his own engineering company and a motivational speaker to young people.

Mjwara grew up in a family of six – all living in a one-room apartment in Umlazi, Durban – where he faced domestic challenges and drug addiction. When he graduated as an electrical engineer from the Mangosuthu University of Technology in 2010, he could not find employment for years. He remembers volunteering as a pool attendant, working for six months without payment, hoping to be considered first when an opportunity opened up. He later worked as an artisan assistant, replacing stolen overhead power lines, digging up trenches by the road and maintaining faulty equipment. He earned R1 600 a month.

He eventually got his first contract job at an Eskom call centre, where he earned R6 800 a month. With the money he earned, he started his own business, Ayakhanyisa Energy Suppliers, sleeping on the floor of a church and eating vetkoek (amagwinya) every day while building his company. His vision is to create job opportunities for young people who cannot find in-service training or formal training to prepare them for jobs.

He has published a book titled From Hell To Heaven, which gives a detailed account of his journey and serves to motivate young people. He works with the eThekwini Municipality as a motivational speaker to curb youth drug and alcohol addiction.

Nominated in category: Resilience

Photo: Supplied