Switched on with computers

: Social entrepreneur Luleka Mkuzo conducts a computer skills class for pupils at Bushula’s Junior Secondary School in Lusikisiki.
: Social entrepreneur Luleka Mkuzo conducts a computer skills class for pupils at Bushula’s Junior Secondary School in Lusikisiki.
Image: Supplied

After years of working in the corporate sector, Luleka Mkuzo knew it was time to give back.

Born in Kubha, a village in Mbizana, social entrepreneur Mkuzo was always bothered by how technologically far behind from the rest of the country her community was.

“After leaving my home for Gauteng, I noticed the vast difference between the two places. And with every visit home, I realised there had been no change,” Mkuzo said.

Mkuzo had been working at a mining company in Gauteng for a little more than 10 years when she had the idea to start Ubuntu Renaissance Global (URGlobal), an organisation that aims to equip and empower rural communities with digital and entrepreneurial skills.

“I tried to start community projects while I was in Gauteng, but they failed as I could not give them the necessary attention from a distance.”

In 2017, Mkuzo began a pilot project that sought to teach the children of Mbizana basic computer skills.

“Many of these children had never touched nor seen a computer before, so we had to start with the basics,” she said.

Mkuzo felt the need to bring about the change she hoped to see in the community.

“Waiting and hoping that someone else will change a situation is futile.”

Mkuzo had been a shareholder in her mining company and used the payout she received following her departure to start mobile computer classes back in the Eastern Cape.

“I initially taught at three schools, but now there are schools from Lusikisiki all the way to Mzamba that are part of the project.”

Bushula’s Junior Secondary School principal Matanzima Lutseke commended the classes, saying their impact had been nothing short of “amazing”.

“As a school we never in our wildest dreams thought we would have computer classes available to our children. The school is a mud structure, so our focus was still aimed at getting a solid structure.”

Lutseke said since 2017, the number of enrolled pupils has increased from 51 to 100.

Community members also took interest in Mkuzo’s project and asked to be included.

One of the community members who also benefited from the classes, Tandeka Sabelo, said she was excited about learning about computers.

“I never thought I would ever learn about computers, how to operate them or even send a mere e-mail,” she said.

Aside from being a community engagement PhD student at Durban University of Technology, Mkuzo has also been shortlisted for The Fairlady Santam Woman of the Future Award in the social entrepreneurship category.

The award is given to an entrepreneur aged 30 or older who is well on her way to creating an empire. Should Mkuzo win the award, she will walk away with R80,000.