Young Minds

Collen Mashawana interview

CM 02Collen Mashawana is the founder of Non-Profit Organization called The Collen Mashawana Foundation which is aimed to eradicate poverty by being an agent that links young job seekers to employers from various sectors and industries. One can’t help it but to be inspired by this young entrepreneur mogul, he has proven that your upbringing and its circumstances don’t have to determine your future with the blessings from God and the support of your loved ones you can reach your dreams and more. Read this interview to learn more about Collen Mashawana and his foundation and the remarkable work that his doing for young people through it.

Please tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Venda, Thohoyandou (Limpopo) and am the last born of three siblings, being a brothers and a sister.  My family has always been a close knit and we are still close up to now.  Two years ago I was blessed with a son, Prince Mukhethwa, who I would say is my joy and my motivation in everything I do.  He has changed my life in ways unimaginable and is the centre of my life.  Apart from family, I’ve found favour in God, who presented me with opportunities that would not only advance me as an individual, but also give back to the underprivileged which I could not have achieved without His blessings.

How was childhood, growing up?

For the most part of my life, I was raised by my mother, who worked at a local hotel to take care of us.  Even though there was little money for all of us, my mother made a lot of sacrifices to take me to a private school in Venda.  This is where I interacted with multi-cultural groups of people, which has been a major contributor to my success.  My mother’s sacrifices paved a way for me to be the man that I am today, and I am now able to provide her with things she compromised for me. The circumstances in which I was brought up in, developed in me the entrepreneurial spirit that has seen me through anything, and even today I am always thinking of what’s next to do.  My disadvantaged background and upbringing influenced me to have responsibilities at a very young age and maturity came much earlier because of that. So as a result I became independent at an early age.  My first job was a part-time salesperson at a Levis store in Johannesburg. 

What is it that you liked about computers that made you study IT?

My passion for IT started early in life, and was a result of curiosity as a young man.  I’ve always been fascinated by gadgets and access to instant information. From a young age, I’ve always known that I wanted to study technology so it was not difficult to decide what to study. Upon completing my studies, I worked for Microsoft SA. The exposure and knowledge one acquired through exploring technology contributed in my decision to go into diversify my business interests.

At the age of 22 you started businesses, what is it that you know now about running a business you wish you knew when you started?

Having a business background has saved me from the worst, but there are still a few things I wish I knew when I started.  Firstly, a business evolves into many phases, and some phases come with uncomfortable change. I’ve learnt that you can never anticipate every challenge.  You learn from each experience, and one solution does not apply to all.  You are always learning in a constantly changing world.

What keeps you going strong when times are tough?

I’ve learnt to devote myself to prayer and my relationship with GOD has made me conquire battles that one never thought would. GOD has never failed me. I also surround myself with people who I can safely rely on for support.  I don’t believe one can ever do it in isolation.  More than the people I have in my life, my son is my greatest motivator.  Knowing that I have been trusted with a life to take care of and to raise into the best he can be always gets me up no matter what the circumstance.


What motivated you to start Collen Mashawana Foundation?

I believe that we are not given blessings for ourselves alone but for those around us as well.  One is blessed to be a blessing to others. I was once unemplyed, and battled to get a job as well so I know what it is to be a young person looking for a job in South Africa and the challenges faced by many young people who want to work but have limitations.  I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to other young people who have the same dreams I had at a young age.  I realise it may not be so for each and every young person looking for a breakthrough, but helping as many as possible was encouraging enough.  I decided to start the Foundation as a vehicle to reaching out to young people and contributing  positively in young people ‘s lives.

What is Collen Mashawana Foundation about?

The Collen Mashawana Foundation is a Non-Profit Organisation that was established as a vehicle to assist in addressing youth unemployment in South Africa.  Our vision is to create a workforce of forward thinkers and dream builders.  We have a team of young people who are energised and have a serving spirit, and sacrifice their time in helping others.  We run initiatives that expose young people to various opportunities available, maximising their likelihood of being considered in the job market. We have a database of more than 15000 young people in all nine provinces who are currently unemployed and actively looking for job opportunities.

What is a purpose of Collen Mashawana?

Our aim is to eradicate poverty by being an agent that links young job seekers to employers from various sectors and industries.  We are the central hub of job opportunities where young people can have assistance with anything that would increase their likelihood of being considered for a job. Our purpose is to link the Job Seekers and the Employers at no cost to either.

What are your dreams and hopes for Collen Mashawana Foundation?

We are building the Foundation to be the leader and central link between young people and employers.  We want to make a significant and notable difference in young people’s lives, by forging partnerships that will allow this to happen.  We want to have a lot more programmes aimed at different aspects of employment.

How can people get involved regarding to Collen Mashawana Foundation?

There are various ways in which one can get involved.  Firstly we welcome volunteers who can work with us on a need to basis.  We’ve also appointed “CMF Ambassadors” who are based in various parts of the country.  This is open to anyone wishing to be a part of us.  We are also on Facebook and Twitter, and I believe this would be the easiest way to contact us.  We also have a website where young people who want to be involved can read more and know more.  We have been active in advertising vacancies on social media however would like to take advantage of other media platforms to be able to reach the young and unemployed.

What needs to be done to bridge a gap of unemployment in this country?

There are many opportunities available by way of learnerships, internships, bursaries, permanent and part-time employment. There are also a number of private companies who are constantly looking for young unemployed people to fill in open vacancies. These opportunities do not always reach young people.  By forging relationship with NGO’s like the Collen Mashawana Foundation and also having a central place where all of this information is purblished will ensure the right audience is reached, and young people are able to take advantage of the various opportunities available and untapped.  Furthermore, we need to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture where young people become employers and in turn create jobs for other young people.  We should not only leave this task to government and large companies alone.

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What is the highlight of your career?

I have high regards for all the Corperate Companies I worked for because it was through their grooming that I gained the expirience and the understanding of how a company should function. I was blessed to have been afforded different types of roles from being a junior Call Centre Agent to holding Executive and Directorship Roles in Multinatonal Companies.

Where can job seekers send their CVs?

Cv’s can be emailed to or

Your advice for young people out there?

God‘s delays are never his denials.  Remain committed to your dreams and aspiration and continue to have Faith that tomorrow will be better. There is nothing that you set your mind to that you can not achieve so never give up.



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