In the midst of a challenging economic climate, characterised by factors such as inflation, high interest rates, loadshedding, and water crises, Allan Gray Makers is taking a proactive step to address unemployment and poverty in South Africa.

Young graduates potentially ready for the challenge of artisanal entrepreneurship. Supplied by GIC

Young graduates potentially ready for the challenge of artisanal entrepreneurship. Supplied by GIC

Recognising the immense potential of the artisanal trade, the organisation has launched the Artisans of Mzansi Campaign, aimed at amplifying the value of skilled artisans and creating meaningful employment opportunities in the country.

In November 2022, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande announced that South Africa needs at least 60% of school leavers to pursue training in a trade to meet the country’s demand for scarce skills. According to the latest statistics from Stats SA, the number of unemployed South Africans between the ages of 15 to 24 stands at a staggering 10.2 million. Even more concerning is that approximately 3.5 million young individuals in this age group are not educated or involved in any training opportunities. These figures underscore the urgent need for initiatives that empower young people and provide them with the necessary skills and resources to thrive in the job market.

“To break this cycle and enable sustainable transformation in South Africa, a focus needs to be placed on the artisanal industry and the opportunities presented. Allan Gray Makers is an organisation that aims to nurture and grow responsible technical and vocational entrepreneurs in South Africa, thereby accelerating meaningful employment creation,” says Sihle Mofokeng, programme manager – Makers Movement and Marketing at Allan Gray Makers. “The organisation aims to grow responsible businesses that generate sustainable profits and creation of value for society,” he says.

The Artisans of Mzansi Campaign, which was launched on September 3, 2022, is now entering its second year and invites artisans to participate before the closing date on June 30, 2023. The campaign is aimed at technical entrepreneurs, to shine a spotlight on them and their businesses, and to celebrate them so that they can serve as relatable role models to aspiring technical entrepreneurs and to change the negative perception about the trades.

The Artisans of Mzansi Campaign incorporates a competition format that encourages artisanal entrepreneurs from different specialties, including plumbing, construction, carpentry, electricals, renovations, general repairs, and related fields, to participate. Through the competition, participants have the chance to win exciting prizes at the end of the campaign, further incentivising their involvement and promoting excellence within the artisanal community. Over and above the mentoring and coaching for a year, winners of the following different categories will walk away with their share of R400 000:

  1. StartUp Category – R50 000
  2. Growth Category – R100 000
  3. Mature Category – R150 000
  4. Innovation Award – R100 000

As a socially responsible organisation, Allan Gray Makers is committed to driving positive change and empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs in South Africa. By focusing on ethical leadership values and behaviours, the campaign seeks to create a powerful network of skilled artisans who can contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth and job creation.

Campaign Process

Step 1: Complete an application form and submit a 2-minute-long video before Friday, 30 June 2023

Step 2: Shortlisted candidates will be invited for a telephonic interview

Step 3: The top 8 applicants will be announced and pitch readiness training to start online

Step 4: The FINAL pitch

Minimum Requirements:

  • A South African citizen
  • A business owner/entrepreneur/self-employed
  • Run an artisanal or trades business (plumbing, construction, carpentry, electrical, installation, renovations, general repairs, or related fields)
  • Run a formalised and ethically run business
  • Not older than 50 years in 2023

To learn more about the Artisans of Mzansi Campaign and how to participate, visit the official Allan Gray Makers website at