The Community Barber
A different path
Jonathan Ruiters attended a 5-day Socionext workshop in 2016 in the city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Through the workshop Jonathan realised he wanted to build some hard skills that he could turn into a business venture. With this in mind, immediately after the workshop he sought out work as a barber.
Jonathan spent two years as an apprentice to a local longstanding barber honing his skills, building a network and learning the ins and outs of managing a barber shop.
In 2018 he decided he had learned what was needed, took the plunge and started his own barber shop. Jonathan was a part of our Top 30 list in 2018 and has again been recognised this year for continuing his great work.
An important part of Jonathan’s story, and underlying the passion he has for what he does, is his desire to contribute to his community.
As a young man, and like many young men in his community, Jonathan was exposed to high levels of violence, alcoholism and drug abuse through gangsterism.
In many communities like his, gangsterism is a primary life path for many young men in the absence of any real work opportunities. Jonathan, however, sees himself as being given an opportunity to take a different path in life.
Through the Socionext training, the apprenticeship and a myriad of people who helped him along the way, Jonathan was able to take a different course, starting his own business and making a life for himself outside of crime. It is this same opportunity which he sees as having a responsibility to give to others.
Increasingly, this vision is beginning to materialise and more and more seats in his barber shop are being rented out to young guys in his community. From a business perspective, it is an effective strategy as it provides an added revenue stream and the young barbers bring in their own customer network.
The aim in doing this is more than just sound business sense though. Jonathan mentors these young barbers and guides them with everything from cutting techniques to managing their books and marketing, helping them to build life prospects for themselves.