The Shishini Plan

Trevor Watkins is the founder of the Individualist Movement, the author of two books, and a contributing author for the Free Market Foundation. He publishes on a blog at  

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The views expressed in the article are the author's and not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.

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The Shishini Plan

South Africa has more problems than you can throw a stick at. To solve these problems we have more plans, commissions and committees than you could spit on.
The media hacks have run out of adjectives to describe how awful our situation is. The politicians cannot deal with the most basic challenges. The wealthy whine and dine, and the poor slowly fade away.
But realistic and workable solutions are few and far between. 
One of the most intractable problems facing South Africa is the huge lost generation of around 20 million individuals under the age of 25. They are uneducated, undernourished, unemployed, uninspired. They are the volatile tinder for future communist uprisings.
The scruffy urchin begging for R10 for bread has become ubiquitous across South Africa. Many decent South Africans are moved by these pitiful appeals, but uncertain how any contribution will be spent. Money is not the problem.
I have a simple criterion for evaluating any proposed solutions. Will this plan provide any immediate relief to a starving 7-year-old girl living with an abusive parent in a squatter shack? If a plan can't even do this simple and necessary thing, what is the point? So, in boldly proposing yet one more solution to the ills that plague us, I use this young girl as my benchmark.
I am a capitalist. I believe free market solutions can solve most economic problems. I believe there is a free market solution to the problem of South Africa's lost generation. All we have to do is convince 20 million young people that the hugely despised capitalism is better than the quite cool communism that they have been brought up on.
If you want young people to learn about and adopt capitalism, give them some capital. Stop telling them about it let them actually experience it.

The goal

To produce 1 million nascent capitalists in the 7 to 21 age group within 24 months.


The method
Capitecalism: I have used Capitec as an example for this proposal without really asking them. They might turn the opportunity down. If so, I am sure other banks may be interested in a plan to acquire a million new members.


1. Setup a new organisation called “Shishini”, which means “business project” in Xhosa.

2. Invite youth in the age 6-21 group to join Shishini through schools, charities, advertising campaigns.

Each member will receive the following:

a. Registration of a Capitec account in their name with a R10 balance.

b. A bank card.

c. 20 Shishini vouchers with QR codes in various denominations.

d. A Shishini cap from Capitec.

3. Instead of begging for small change, an indigent youth can ask a potential donor to take a voucher containing a QR code and donate as much as desired directly into the youth’s bank account, safely and securely.

4. Existing Shishini members can recruit new members and receive a R10 deposit to their account.

5. Shishini members can be paid for services such as car washing or guarding using the same method.


1. Indigent youth can begin to build a capital base of their own. Interest can be earned.

2. Savings can be put towards useful, longer-term goals.

3. Money is available for emergencies.

4. The network of Shishini members can be used for other purposes, such as education, advertising, sub-projects such as recycling. An app linking members might be a possibility.


1. Age for opening an account may be an issue. Parents or guardians may need to approve, but must not be granted access to the funds under any circumstances.

2. The state will almost certainly have an opinion on this initiative and will no doubt place the usual obstacles in its path. This may require legal expertise.

3. There is no guarantee that funds deposited will not be immediately withdrawn. This can be limited through minimum balances and freezing deposits for a period.

4. A cooperative bank must agree to this process. It is probably in their long-term interest.


1. The cost is insignificant compared to recruitment of new clients for the bank.

2. Much of the cost may be directly recoverable from new customer sources in the target community.

3. Youth will obtain direct experience in banking, earning, money handling.

4. Businesses like Capitec can lock in a generation of new customers.

5. Businesses like retail chains can market to a new demographic, who are poor but not penniless.

6. Youth will enjoy a sense of respect and self-esteem enhanced by individual responsibility.

7. The plan will teach entrepreneurial skills, savings and capital formation, business management.

8. Useful community services such as mutual protection, communication, literacy, sports development, cleanup programs will arise.

9. A Shishini app could be developed which will allow direct communication to many thousands of members, and massive communication between members.


This plan is not a free handout or a charity. Begging is hard work. It is a demonstration of the power of a free market in the most unlikely of places.

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