Youth unemployment continues to be a massive issue in South Africa.

According to StatsSA, the youth unemployment rate in South Africa rose significantly to 58,2% in the third quarter of 2019 from 56,4% in the previous period, reaching its highest level since the first quarter of 2008.

Recent school graduates who have passed matric face the uncertainty of unemployment as post-school employment opportunities cannot meet the demand, and many matrics won’t have the opportunity to study further.

It is clear that now, more than ever, innovative ideas and solutions are needed to tackle this – one of which is becoming an entrepreneur.

For Ayanda Cuba and Buntu Matole, this was their path. After meeting at the Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development in 2014, the two have since set up and run a successful tourism business in Khayelitsha.

They host fun and in-demand Experiences through Airbnb and are now also part of the team for the Airbnb Africa Academy – a multi-day skills training programme that enables locals to learn how to become tourism entrepreneurs.

As partners to this programme, the pair assist the local Airbnb team with the running of workshops and skills programmes or for the Airbnb Africa Academy.

The pair first started Sporting Code – an organisation that aims to use sport as a positive influence in the lives of children growing up in under-resourced communities.

A welcome side effect to this venture: changing the narrative around townships and the way in which townships are often negatively perceived.

After growing their organisation in various ways such as securing funding from a pitching competition and moving into more permanent premises at The Barn in Khayelitsha, they identified the need for additional revenue streams to keep the organization running – which is when they realised that they could turn their venture into a tourism business.

It was then that Ayanda and Buntu listed on the Airbnb platform as Experience hosts – using their passion as an income and a way of opening up their community to visitors.

“For our first year on the platform, we hosted just one Experience – running through Khayelitsha,” says Ayanda. “There were already walking tours happening around Khayelitsha, but these felt quite invasive as it felt as though people’s lives were on display – and some people don’t want this.

“However, running through the township comes across as less intrusive as it’s looked at as a fitness activity and not necessarily as a tour of people’s daily lives.”

The pair has since evolved their offering to provide a cycling Experience that takes guests through and around Khayelitsha in order to highlight what their area is really about by showcasing the local traditions and customs, delicious cuisine and highlighting that the area is filled with passionate people who really want to improve their community and bring in visitors from all across the world.

In addition, they offer visitors the opportunity to experience a township party, which highlights how the community of Khayelitsha gathers to celebrate and enjoy good music.

Through the Airbnb platform and by finding their passion, Buntu and Ayanda have learnt how to immerse people in their community and culture.

“We’ve come from humble beginnings to where we are today, with no formal tertiary education,” says Buntu. “We turned our passions into a business and we hope that others are inspired by our story and see that, if they aren’t able to get any formal training after school from a university or college, it’s not the end of the world as long as you are creative and willing to put in the hard work.”

Ayanda adds: “Technology has made it easier for people to become entrepreneurs, and platforms such as Airbnb make it easier to grow a business.

“We hope that young people all across South Africa use the talents that they have, their passion and their determination to get far in life – with or without a degree or diploma,” he concludes.