GAP intern impresses owner | Advice | Small Business Connect

GAP intern Mapaseka Dipale impressed business owner Nirvesh Sooful (pictured with her) so much that he flew her to Cape Town for an interview and then employed her.

A rising star in the company and the city.

This is how Nirvesh Sooful describes a Graduate Asset Programme (Gap) candidate whose airfare he paid for to allow him to interview her at his business place.

Gap is a graduate placement programme that places graduates with small businesses in South Africa. “I was so impressed with her,” says Sooful, who runs IT company African Ideas.

After working in the private sector and for the government – City of Cape Town –for more than 15 years, Sooful decided to start his own business in 2008. A year later he sold the successful business to a big IT company.

Having agreed to stay on to ensure a smooth transition as the business changed ownership, Sooful then finally left the business in 2012. “This was when I started African Ideas. I like working in a small business and I like the niche it offers. My interest has always been in working to transform the sector and optimise technology,” he says.

He says it was while researching his new business idea that he first came across Gap.

“I always planned to employ young people. You always hear it being said that there are not enough skills, but I am constantly meeting young graduates with the qualifications for the job, but no work experience,” says Sooful.

He says he decided not to go for employees with scarce skills, but to rather develop young graduates by getting them to work in his business.

The opportunity presented itself to Sooful in January when a position became available for a young intern in his business. He went online to the Gap website and created a profile.

“It was easy. I just needed to provide my contact details and basic business information,” he says of the registration process.

Having done this he was then prompted to create a profile by listing the requirements for the vacancy his business had.

The system then listed potential candidates that might best suit the kind of job profile he had created.

“I was very impressed with the quality of the candidate I chose. Using the Gap system also saved me time and there was no cost involved for using the system,” says Sooful. The system proved ideal for him and his small team, which does not have a dedicated human resources person to handle job applications.

He recalls how different his most recent experience was to when he applied for an intern via listings website Gumtree.

“When I used Gumtree, I had to go through so many applicants who were not even suited to the job, but they applied for it.

With Gap I went through applicants who were all suited to and qualified for the job,” he says.

Sooful says he was also impressed by the pool of resources that the programme could offer him, such as access to sample contracts which he continues to use in his business today. “I had no idea how to draw up a contract of employment for an intern.

When I looked at the website I saw that it offered templates and these templates included contracts of employment for both interns and permanent workers, so that’s what I used,” says Sooful.

He adds that he can’t really talk about the disadvantages to the programme because there have not really been any for him.

“I am not sure if that is because of the programme or just the candidate,” says Sooful.

Since flying his employee to Cape Town from Port Elizabeth, he has not looked back.

After initially doing a telephonic interview, the employee came to Cape Town and has been doing well at his business.

“As we speak, she is being interviewed by e-news on a project that she is involved in and she will also be heading up an off-site project for me soon,” says Sooful, adding that he has already recommended the programme to others.

  •  Visit www.africanideas.co.za for more information.

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