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Free career guidance app aims to close the gap

Nov 15 2016 06:00
Anton Ressel

Cape Town - “My nephew’s teacher advised him to choose Maths Literacy, because he felt that Mathematics would be too difficult for him. This was however not the case, and as a result his career options were suddenly limited and his entire future affected.

"It was at that point," says Mbavhalelo Mabogo, "that I knew there had to be a better way for learners to identify what path they should follow to reach their dreams, and the seeds for the Tshedza app were planted."

Mabogo is a passionate young man. A big believer in the power of education to uplift individuals and communities, he holds a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering, Postgraduate Diploma in Manufacturing and Design and also an MBA from Stellenbosch University Business School. He received a scholarship to study in India in 2003, and is a founding member of the Institute for Advanced Tooling (IAT) that is now in three provinces in South Africa.

However, it is as a social entrepreneur that he feels he has found his true calling.

“My nephew’s experience brought home the vast gap that exists as far as career guidance for learners is concerned, especially those in Grades 10 to 12. They are under pressure to make decisions that will affect them forever.

"Traditional, face-to-face career guidance is scarce, especially in the poorer schools. It is also expensive and time-consuming, so we developed the Tshedza app as a solution to give young people access to expert career planning tools at no cost, using a medium that most of our youngsters are very comfortable with,” he explains.

With the Tshedza app learners have access to a guidance counsellor through their cellphones.

Tshedza means "The light”, and the downloadable app has taken Mabogo and his team over two years to build. Essentially, Tshedza is a virtual career coach – learners download it for free, log in with their Facebook profile and start planning their future, using a variety of tools and information provided by the app.

The ultimate intention, explains Mabogo, is to improve pass rates, reduce the high number of learners who drop out at tertiary level because they have chosen the wrong course of study, and also ensure that learners choose the right subjects while still at school, so that they can successfully apply for the courses and degrees that interest and inspire them. 

Users are able to access information about the requirements for different courses and degrees, available bursaries and other support mechanisms, institutions that offer courses in their areas of interest, as well as interact directly with industry professionals within their chosen careers – an innovation that sets Tshedza apart from other similar online career guidance tools.

“I am a big believer in mentorship. It has been incredible to find out how many professional people are willing to give up their time to help guide aspiring entrants into their field – and this is one of the big drawcards of the Tshedza offering,” adds Mabogo.

It seems that Mabogo’s passion and enthusiasm is contagious. He was a Finalist in the 2015/2016 SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards, which recognises entrepreneurial ideas that have the potential to transform our future for the better, and was the winner in the same competition in the Development category. His prize included R250 000 to invest in the development of the business, as well as access to experienced mentorship and other support.

Recent events at tertiary institutions and university campuses across the nation have made it very apparent that our education system is in crisis. The Tshedza app aims to equip our young leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in this often scary, fast-paced environment, by acting as a virtual career guidance platform, mentor and big brother in one free, simple-to-use package. Long may it light the way.     

To download the Tshedza App for free, find it on Google Play or visit Mabogo can be contacted on

* Anton Ressel, a regular Fin24 small business columnist and expert answering user questions, is a mentor and business development specialist.

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