From Classroom to Career: Mbali Gamede


Twenty-six year old Mbalenhle (Mbali) Gamede was overjoyed to graduate top of her class in 2018, being awarded MRP Foundation’s prestigious Cutting Edge Award.

CUTTING EDGE: Top student, Mbali Gamede, high fives a graduate at the 2018 Professional Retail Programme graduation. Image: Tim Lubbe / MRP Foundation


  • Mbalenhle Gamede was the top graduate for the Jump Start Professional Retail Programme

  • Jump Start internships develop skills for the retail industry

  • Mbalenhle now works for a leading SA retailer as a trainee merchandiser

  • The Jump Start Professional Retail Programme programme has an employment success rate of 93% since its first intake in 2017. Applications for the Professional Retail Programme will open again mid-year​.

Twenty-six year old Mbalenhle (Mbali) Gamede was overjoyed to graduate top of her class in 2018, being awarded MRP Foundation’s prestigious Cutting Edge Award. As the eldest of five children, her parents have always expected her to set high standards for her younger siblings, an expectation she certainly lived up to when succeeding in the Jump Start Professional Retail Programme, an internship that develops skills for merchants and traders of the future.

After matriculating in 2010 Mbali, originally from Newcastle in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, pursued a BCom degree in Strategic Management. Her passion for people and her flair for fashion and self-development attracted Mbali to the retail industry.

Currently working as a trainee merchandiser for a major retailer, Mbali says she has realised the value of being a part of a team, as well as the vital role that each and every person plays in the retail value chain. “Jump Start has changed my life, allowing me the opportunity to get permanent work in a country where the  rate of unemployment is rising fast,” says Mbali. “It has also given me invaluable knowledge and skills to help me better understand my job, and it has enabled me to support my family,” she adds.

Mbali lives by the motto “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure!” “My inspiration in life comes from my role model, my mother, whose selflessness, humility and passion combined with boldness and hard work drive me to be my best,” says Mbali.  

Apart from learning about the entire retail value chain, a highlight for Mbali was learning that “sustainability is more than just a business idea; that it is a lifestyle concept and our responsibility to the world.” Her professional goals for the future include becoming a Brand Merchant Planner, and she intends to own her first home.

The MRP Foundation’s Retail Professional Programme is open to graduates or final year students with Graphic Design, BCom, Business Management and BSc degrees, or Business Science, Stats, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship and Retail Management majors. The 10-month course, which blends theory and practice, is designed for students to gain an opportunity to enter the dynamic world of retail. It aims to develop well-rounded merchants and traders by exposing graduates to the universal principles of retail and the value chain and teaches in-demand skills to succeed in the retail careers of Buying, Planning and Operations Management Development.

Head of MRP Foundation, Karen Wells says “The Retail Professional Programme is an opportunity to transition from classroom to career. We have developed these internships in response to the ever-widening gap between tertiary education and the working world that leaves graduates unprepared. Developed by industry, for industry, and taught by industry experts, the retail internship offers young people the chance to build on their current knowledge base, learn much-needed practical skills and develop their careers. Over the years, our internship programmes have jump started the careers of many talented young people.”

Graduates from the 2018 class were employed by Jump Start's Employer Partners: SPAR, Toys r Us, mrp, mrp Home, mrp Sport. MRP Foundation will open applications again for the Professional Retail Programme mid-year so keep an eye out for the application form.

SboneloSosibo-and-MbaliGamede_Image_TimLubee.jpgThe winning graduates Sbonelo Sosibo (Hang in there Award, Pre-Production Programme, originally from Bulwer) with top graduate Mbali Gamede (1st place/ The Cutting Edge Award, Professional Retail Programme, originally from Newcastle). Image: Tim Lubbe / MRP Foundation