Thabo Afitlhile, Actor, Entrepreneur and JA South Africa Alumnus 2007
Through each of these programmes my self-confidence grew, and this pushed me to work harder and learn more.
“The Enterprise Programme taught me a lot about running a business and helped me see that with hard work and determination, having my own company was possible. Then I completed the Banks in Action Programme in Grade 11, which allowed me to run my own computer simulated banking empire. The programme also taught me about the banking industry, and about deposits, loans and interest.
“Through each of these programmes my self-confidence grew and this pushed me to work harder and learn more. The programmes also made me realise that I loved being in front of people and performing, which helped me decide on a career path as an actor and motivational speaker.
“Unfortunately my mother didn’t live long enough to see the results of all of her efforts in helping me to prepare for the role of Tivo in the television show 90 Plein Street. She died of AIDS a few days before my first appearance. The loss of my mother hit me hard, having a negative effect on my motivation, drive, interest in school and ultimately in life. Fortunately I still had support of the staff at JASA who assisted me in regaining my self-confidence. The reality of my situation was that I had become my sister’s sole provider and I needed to look after her financially and emotionally. Both of my parents had passed on and her welfare had become my responsibility.
“My JASA experience pointed me in the right direction. I started a promotional clothing agency, acting as the coordinator between high schools needing Matric jackets and a clothing manufacturer. Business was good and with help and guidance from JASA and many other people, I was able to provide for my little sister.
“I have subsequently appeared in several well-known productions since my high school days and I have learnt how to manage myself as a brand. Through all of my hardships and struggles in life, my JASA experience has helped me land on my feet and to continue pursuing my dreams. The staff saw beyond my background, rebelliousness and lack of self-confidence. Yesterday I was the Thabo Afitlhile, who spoke broken English, but today I am a proud TV-film maker, speaker and entrepreneur.
“My career in the film industry and other prospective business ventures has not been easy, but with mental, spiritual and emotional strength, hard work, passion, a deep desire and above all with the guidance of JASA, I can accomplish anything!
“On behalf of myself, and thousands of others, I would like to thank the JASA staff members, facilitators, funders and partners for creating this great organisation which is so dedicated to seeing beyond boundaries and helping the youth of South Africa to realise their potential. I hope that one day the Mini Enterprise Programme is offered in every school across the country, because every schoolchild should benefit from a JASA programme.