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South Africa
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

IkamvaYouth is a by-youth, for-youth non-profit organisation that enables disadvantaged South African youth to get themselves out of poverty and into university. Its simple but comprehensive model is highly effective, and ensures that learners get the grades, information, skills and support they need to move from secondary to tertiary education.

The project has been running since 2003, and most of the programmes are now managed by ex-learners in the community where it first began. Impressed by IkamvaYouth's significant impact and results (e.g. 92% of last year's grade 12 learners at the Khayelitsha branch are either in university or employed), social entrepreneurs have begun running IkamvaYouth branches in other communities.

Multiple entities (libraries, NGO’s, and schools) have approached us to assist in implementing the IkamvaYouth model, and IkamvaYouth-in-a-Box is the toolkit that will enable them to do so. IkamvaYouth-in-a-Box open sources IkamvaYouth's model, so that anyone who wants to be a part of the learning revolution can implement it at their local library, school or community centre.

The "Box" contains electronic and hardcopy How-to guides and templates, as well as tools for monitoring and tracking, to guide the implementation of IkamvaYouth's programmes and processes. An annual leadership development and training bootcamp will bring all the people who are running IkamvaYouth chapters and wish to do so in the coming year together for a week. The Camp will provide opportunities for experiential learning, skill sharing, personal and community development. A core support team will provide ongoing support and training to new and expanding chapters of IkamvaYouth.

About You
Project Street Address

Cnr Lansdowne and Cekece Road, Khayelitsha

Project City

Cape Town

Project Province/State

Western Cape

Project Postal/Zip Code


Project Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on:

South Africa. (We work in Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Masiphumelele in the Western Cape; Cato Manor in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Ebony/Ivory Park in Gauteng)

What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

YouTube Upload

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What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?


Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.

IkamvaYouth enables youth to get the grades, information, skills and support they need to lift themselves out of poverty into university. Most return as volunteers: project beneficiaries become its drivers. IY-in-a-Box enables the model's roll-out. It comprises a:

* Toolkit (How-to guides, templates and tools)

* Skillshare Boot Camp; ongoing training and support for new chapters

What makes your idea unique?

It's high-impact and low-cost

It shifts paradigms and enables the disadvantaged to become advantaged

It produces great results (learners' academic performance and access to higher education) in contexts that generally produce some of the poorest results in the world

It is run by-youth, for-youth and the project's beneficiaries become its drivers

What is your area of work? (Please check as many as apply.)

Children & Youth , At risk youth , Behavioral issues , Boys' development , Education , Education reform , Girls' development , Mentorship , Play , Youth development , Youth leadership , Development & Prosperity , Community development , Conscious consumerism , Corporate social responsibility , Design , Economic development , Employment , Income generation , Information technology , Mentorship , Networking , Poverty alleviation , Scholarships and grants , Social Enterprise , Technology , Sustainable design , Health education , HIV/AIDS , Sexuality , Civil rights , Crime prevention , Gender equity , Racial equality , Vulnerable populations , Public Participation & Engagement , Arts and culture , Citizen participation , Ethics , Intergenerational relations , Media , Mentoring , Transparency , Volunteerism , Youth leadership.

What impact have you had?

Nationally, the matric pass rate has dropped from 68.3% in 2005 to 62.5% in 2008. Yet IkamvaYouth has achieved a 100 – 90% pass rate working with learners in impoverished schools.

Only 10% of pupils in the South African school system achieve results good enough for them to enter university (SAIRR) and unemployment of youth is estimated at over 60%. Yet at IkamvaYouth:

* 71% of the class of 2008 gained access into tertiary studies; 12% gained employment

* 92% of the class of 2007; 62% of our class of 2005; 42% of our class of 2006; and 76% of the class of 2005 gained access to either tertiary education, learnerships or employment in the year following matriculation.

The most convincing evidence that IkamvaYouth's contribution is worthwhile is that between 40 and 60% of each matriculating class stays with the organisation as volunteer tutors and mentors. Not only do they spend their afternoons, Saturday mornings and two weeks of their holidays engaged in peer-to-peer tutoring and mentoring, but 75% of the Western Cape branch's management committee comprises learners from the classes of 2005 and 2006.

Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.

According to SAIRR, less than 10% of all South African youth access higher education. IkamvaYouth addresses the lack of black professionals, brain drain, poverty and youth turning to crime, and enables young people to overcome their contextual challenges, rather than fall victim to them.

South Africa's education system is in crisis. Learner performance in numeracy and literacy assessment is abominable (e.g. see the TIMSS scores), and very few learners living in disadvantaged communities access higher education. Most are computer illiterate and more than 40% are HIV positive.

Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.

- Building the capacity of young people to develop themselves and each other

- Tracking and monitoring progress and impact

- Documenting processes and policies

- Customising tools for data collection and analysis; information management and sharing

- Collaborating and sharing with partner organisations

- Achieving sustainability by turning project beneficiaries into project drivers

- Maintaining low-cost/high impact balance to ensure maximum replicability and scale

- Adopting a whole-community approach and working with the schools, parents, ngos, learners, activists, community leaders, local Government officials and young people.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Success in Year 1:

- IkamvaYouth operating with chapters in 3 communities in the Western Cape
- One chapter in Kwa-Zulu Natal
- One chapter in Gauteng

Between 60 and 100% of Grade 12s from Khayelitsha and Cato Manor perform well in their exams and access post-school opportunities in 2010.

Success in Year 2:

- 4 chapters in the Western Cape
- Computer lab established in Kwa-Zulu Natal branch (all other chapters have done so already) + another chapter established
- 2 chapters in Gauteng

Between 60 and 100% of Grade 12s from Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Cato Manor & Ebony/Ivory Park perform well in their exams and access post-school opportunities in 2011.

Success in Year 3:

- 5 chapters in the Western Cape
- 3 chapters in Kwa-Zulu Natal
- 3 chapters in Gauteng

Between 60 and 100% of Grade 12s from 3 chapters in the Western Cape, 2 chapters in KZN and 2 chapters in Gauteng perform well in their exams and access post-school opportunities in 2012.

Do you have a business plan or strategic plan? (yes/no)

Currently in the process of being developed.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 1:

- Consolidate and document processes
- Improve efficiency of programme implementation, tracking, reporting and monitoring processes
- Provide support and resources to build the capacity of the current provincial directors

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 2:

- Raise awareness of the model to social entrepreneurs, organisations with similar missions, teachers, students, businesses, Government etc.
- Secure seed funding for new chapters
- Build core organisational capacity at a national level in order to respond to the need and provide ongoing support and training to the local chapters

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization? STEP 3:

- Hold bootcamps for social entrepreneurs establishing IkamvaYouth chapters in their communities, providing opportunities for skillsharing, community building and leadership development.
- Provide on-going support and training to budding local chapters.
- Provincial directors establish new chapters as existing chapters become sustainable in terms of their human resources (ex-learners are now running programmes) and financial resources (local businesses / foundations / indviduals are sponsoring the programmes).

Describe the expected results of these actions.

Step 1: IkamvaYouth-in-a-Box: The model is documented and published, processes clearly outlined and the tools are customised and configured. Provincial directors' capacity is built.

Step 2: Provincial directors can support leaders of new chapters in their provinces. More social entrepreneurs learn about the model and set about implementing it in other communities.

Step 3: Existing chapters produce results and more chapters are established.

What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

When 65% of the class of 2005 enrolled in tertiary education, and 60% stayed on with the organisation as volunteer tutors, I realised that the model was far more effective that anyone would ever have guessed, as well as sustainable. Seeing these learners move from their shacks to residences at universities, and return to the townships on weekends to tutor, I was excited and humbled. I quit my full-time job and became a freelancer in order to be able to spend as much time as possible working with the other volunteers (some of them the learners from the class of 2005!) who have helped me develop and build IkamvaYouth.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

While working in Science, Technology and Innovation policy at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Joy Olivier was struck by the shocking lack of learners matriculating from secondary school with sufficient grades to access tertiary education. She's been volunteering with IkamvaYouth since 2003. She has worked for a think-tank on the use of technology for development (bridges.org) and conducted research for various universities, Government departments and NGOs. She is the regional manager of TEACH South Africa in the Western Cape, the chairperson for Lucca Leadership South Africa and is currently completing her MA in Education and Technology at the University of Cape Town.

While Joy is the co-founder and executive director, she is certainly not the only social innovator who have developed the IkamvaYouth model. Others include Susan Godlonton, currently doing her PhD in Economics at the University of Michigan; Luyanda Kota, currently running the Western Cape branches; Julia de Kadt, the founder of IkamvaYouth KZN and PhD candidate working in Education at the Human Sciences Research Council; Andrew Barret who founded IkamvaYouth Gauteng; as well as all the members of the management committee (many ex-learners).

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

I was contacted by Yuting Beverly Lien, who was referred to me by Dana Ledyard at the International Youth Foundation.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

- Lack of funding
- Losing key members before the model is documented
- The school system continues to deteriorate to the point where our supplementary after-school efforts are insufficient to fill the gaps

Financing source


If yes, provide organization name.


How long has this organization been operating? (i.e. less than a year; 1-5 years; more than 5 years)

6 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs? (yes/no)


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses? (yes/no)


The Story
Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government? (yes/no)


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

* IkamvaYouth is based at public libraries, schools and community centres. By partnering with Government departments, other non-profits and schools we supplement the education system at a low cost. (All our services are provided free of charge at venues provided to us free of charge).

* By partnering with other organisations in our programme delivery, we are able to ensure that our learners access their services as well (e.g. partner organisations in each community where we work provide HIV awareness workshops, voluntary counselling and testing, workshops on a variety of topics from leadership to entrepreneurship, etc.)

* By partnering with universities we are able to connect student tutors and mentors with our learners. Universities avail their campuses (including their science and computer labs) to us free of charge for our holiday programmes.

* By partnering with other organisations that develop open educational resources, we are able to share and access learning and teaching support materials.

* By partnering with Government libraries, which have allowed us to establish computer labs on their premises, we are able to provide low-cost telecentre services to the community during school hours and subsidise the free after-school computer classes and access provided to our learners.

* By sharing our knowledge, processes and materials with other organisations with a similar mission, we are able to build on the work of those around us in an aligned and mutually beneficial way.

* By partnering with businesses, we are able to channel resources and equipment, as well as opportunities such as scholarships and internships. Businesses are able to tap into the opportunities we provide them, from volunteering and corporate social investment to building the capacity and skills of young black people whom they will employ.

How many people will your project serve annually?

2009: 350 learners; 180 volunteers
2010: 620 learners; 320 volunteers
2011: 980 learners; 400 volunteers

What is the total number of employees and total number of volunteers at your organization?

2009: 7 staff; 180 volunteers
2010: 10 staff; 320 volunteers
2011: 15 staff; 400 volunteers

What is your organization's business classification?

Non-profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

Have you received funding from any of the following groups? (Please check as many as apply.)

None of the above.