JumpStart’s footwear star 

JumpStart graduate Avinaash Piyarilal has a strong foothold in his dream career. © Pierre Tostee / Mr Price Foundation


THE JUMPSTART PRODUCTION PROGRAMME has produced many shining stars over the years, transforming youth into highly capable individuals and giving them an undeniable advantage in the workplace.  


One such star is Avinaash Piyarilal from Chatsworth in Durban, who graduated from the JumpStart Manufacturing Pre-production Programme in 2014. This programme had a specific focus on footwear and was designed to develop a set of professional skills that are strategically aligned with the needs of footwear suppliers to Mr Price Group. 


“JumpStart changed my life. I truly did not have any idea where I was heading in life. JumpStart changed that for me. It opened my eyes to opportunities in footwear and made me realise what I am destined to do; and to believe in myself. Now, I am living my dream,” says Avinaash.  


Karen Wells, head of Mr Price Foundation, says JumpStart is continually adapting. “Our aim is to produce candidates who are a good fit for our retail and manufacturing partners. We work closely with our industry partners to ensure we match training with their needs. The programme tackles one of South Africa’s most pressing problems – youth unemployment – and helps youth gain an advantage in the job market,” says Karen. 


This collaborative approach prepares youth for the workplace, raises operational and technical standards, and energises the local manufacturing industry. A social return on investment study in 2016 found the JumpStart Production Programme generated R6.50 of value for every R1 invested; while the JumpStart Pre-Production Programme generated R5 for every R1 invested 


Unlocking talent

The programme unlocks talent – taking youth on a journey out of the cycle of poverty and inequality.  When Avinaash was selected for the JumpStart programme, he was already moving in footwear circles, having worked for a number of footwear suppliers in and around Durban. JumpStart gave him the skills and confidence to pursue his dream career in footwear.  


He spent 10 months in intensive practical and theoretical training at a South African footwear supplier in KwaZulu-Natal. The programme covered everything in footwear production, from life skills to pattern making, designing, costing, merchandising and planning.  


Avinaash did not wait long after graduating from JumpStart to be employed as a Junior Designer at a supplier for Mr Price. Now, he is a Junior Quality Technologist, sitting alongside a strong footwear team at Mr Price.  


My current job is based on Quality Assurance. We check the fit and construction of all the footwear that enters our business and make sure that all our specs and requirements are met,” he explains.  


Avinaash’s footwear career was fast-tracked thanks to JumpStart and he knows where he wants to go. “My career aspiration is to one day be a director for footwear and grow the footwear category.”   


Now in his mid-30s, Avinaash is overflowing with joy and hope for the future.  


“I am forever grateful to Mr Price and Mr Price Foundation for giving me this opportunity. Thank you to each and every one of you that has their hand in this programme. I would not have been here without you.”  


We celebrate the success of all our JumpStart graduates who are working hard, dreaming big, and injecting life and hope into the local retail and manufacturing sectors. The programme is a stepping stone to their dreams – their attitude and dedication will play a huge role in determining what path their careers will take.  


“JumpStart is a foot in the door to learning new skills. Invest time in polishing your skills and in learning new skills. It took me seven years to get where I am. It may take you longer or shorter, but do not give up,” Avinaash says.  


[Learn about JumpStart programmes] 




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