This Entry has been submitted.

Thanda: Empowering people to create positive change

Hibberdene, South AfricaUmtwalume, South Africa
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Thanda is a non-profit organisation that empowers communities to break the cycle of generational poverty through Early Childhood Development, After-school Education, and Agriculture Development Programmes.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if people in rural communities were self-reliant and able to contribute meaningfully to their economy?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The area where Thanda is based faces high levels of food insecurity, extreme poverty, a 41% HIV prevalence rate, and a 71% unemployment rate. Many of South Africa's rural communities face similar challenges, and compounding these problems further is the fact that the vast majority of the population has inadequate levels of education and training.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Thanda supports people through all stages of their development by offering Early Childhood, After-school Education, and Agriculture Programmes. These programmes work in unison to build rural communities that are self-reliant, healthy places where people respect one another and live sustainably. - Early Childhood: Provides all-day educational activities adapted to the developmental needs of children ages two through four - After-school Education: Develops motivated, life-long learners with the confidence, knowledge and skills to improve both their own lives and their communities - Agriculture: Reduces food insecurity and malnutrition, builds self-reliance among cash-dependent communities, and encourages local enterprise development


Mzanzi Soul Award, Levi’s 2011 Go Forth Finalist, Southern Africa Trust Drivers of Change, Mail & Guardian Investing in Life
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our Creative Learning Curriculum serves as the foundation for our Early Childhood & After-school Programmes. It is built around stories, which are used to broaden horizons, make lateral connections across subject areas, link global issues to the local community, and cultivate empathy & respect. Creativity and skills are prized above knowledge and right answers, and children are encouraged to have fun and take risks. Many people in our community suffer from feelings of inadequacy due to their inability to make a living in the city. Recognising this widespread issue, our Agriculture training model focuses a great deal on self-development, global perspective and confidence building, as well as the practical side of farming.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Teenage pregnancy is five times lower among learners in our After-school Education Programmes. Moreover, learners in Grades R-4 showed a 108% increase in literacy rates over a five-month period. 95% of our high school learners have started their own home vegetable gardens and through our Agriculture Development Programme, our ten small-scale farms are feeding over 1,000 community members. Our Agriculture Programme is also providing an income for 167 previously unemployed individuals. In the future, we expect to see a decrease in crime, malnutrition, and preventable diseases in our community, along with a higher number of high school learners passing their matriculation and the development of a local economy.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The main strategies are: 1) Expand our Early Childhood Development Programme by developing the necessary infrastructure and hiring/training ECD Facilitators; 2) Strengthen & document our After-school Education curriculum & methodology so that we can support more learners in our community, expand to other communities, and train similar organisations; 3) Scale up our agricultural production so that we can help more people earn a consistent income through organic farming.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are always diversifying our funding sources by raising money internationally and domestically, forming strong local partnerships, and establishing income generating projects (egg-laying chickens, seedling nurseries, & pigs; community-based agriculture initiatives; socially conscious jewelry). Also, our low cost model requires few technological resources and we employ environmentally friendly solutions whenever possible.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

While After-school Educational and Enrichment Programmes in South Africa are widespread, curriculum, pedagogy and quality of delivery are often poor or inconsistent. We distinguish ourselves from other ECD and After-school Programmes in three key ways: extensive coverage, an innovative curriculum, and an ongoing training model for our Educational Facilitators. Our Agriculture Development Programme is also unique in its approach as it focuses largely on personal development and building a contextual framework for how participants are contributing to the global economy.

Founding Story

Angela Larkan founded Thanda in 2008 after conducting five years of research on models of care for orphans and vulnerable children in rural South Africa. Her research outlined a solution that employed existing resources cost-effectively: After-school programmes would take place in empty classrooms at local schools and youth from the community would be hired & trained to become Educational Facilitators. Recognising a pressing need to address the underlying issues of food insecurity and poor education in the community, the organisation later branched into Agriculture and Early Childhood Development.


Our team is comprised of 34 full-time members - approximately 94% of whom were hired from within our community. The majority of our team members are Educational Managers/Facilitators, who are responsible for overseeing and leading our ECD/After-school Programmes for over 580 children & youth daily. The remainder of our staff focuses on mentoring & training farmers in our Agriculture Development Programme, cooking and providing meals for children & youth enrolled in our Educational Programmes, and administrative functions. Angela Larkan, our Founder/Executive Director, graduated with High Honors from Wesleyan University in the U.S. and has conducted extensive research on orphans of HIV/AIDS. Tyler Howard, our Programme Director, is passionate about developing a new model of education for South Africa. He oversees all of our Educational Facilitators and day-to-day operations. Upon hiring, our Educational Facilitators participate in an eight-week intensive training. Subsequently, training is daily and ongoing – facilitators attend training each morning, and work with children in the afternoon. Our training programme places heavy emphasis on child psychology, history & global issues, and creates space for facilitators to go through the same learning processes they aim to spark in children – delving deeply into stories, in order to ask critical questions about the world.