South African
Youth Leaders

About the project

We work with our local partner in rural South Africa to give young people a voice and empower them to create positive change in their own communities.

The program teaches youth to design their own solutions to social or environmental problems through social entrepreneurship and activism.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are used as an inspirational and educational tool when relating global goals and targets to local concerns and practical solutions, and a specific focus is put on women’s empowerment.
The youth is also introduced to the arts, such as music and radio, film & videography, art journaling and dance. We believe that art can confront stigmatization and prejudice in segregated communities by focusing on what people have in common.

During the program the youth build up their confidence and learn how to problem-solve through critical and creative thinking. They work with Design Thinking as a structured framework and method to identify problems or challenges, gather information in the field, brainstorm possible solutions and bring their ideas to life. The goal is to teach them how to find solutions to social or environmental problems or injustice which also affect their every-day lives. The youth take action against these, develop social entrepreneurship projects meeting those challenges, and work to sustain their actions in the community.

In their work in the community our local partner continues to be confronted with structural inequities in gender relations. They meet young women in Grabouw and Elgin Valley who are not offered the same opportunities as young men, which ultimately lead to them feeling insecure of their own capacities. It is therefore important that young women make up at least 50-60 % of the participants in the program.

– initiated with help from the Fighting Fashion Waste project.

South Africa

Strategic partners
Designers without Borders South Africa
CISU – Civilsamfund i Udvikling

SDG Goals

The program takes place in Grabouw town and the farming communities in Elgin Valley, a small 80 km’s drive from Cape Town in South Africa.

Grabouw and the broader Elgin Valley are agricultural areas and home to South Africa’s largest fruit production. Many people travel to the area from other provinces looking for seasonal work on the farms, which consists mainly of fruit picking or fruit harvesting.
However, few are lucky enough to find employment, and if they do, the seasonal character of the work means that
many families are without an income for more than half of the year. This combined with a low salary, results in a high poverty rate in the area.

As a result, many people live under very bad conditions with limited or no access to basic necessities such as running water, electricity, functioning sanitation, quality education and health care.

The poverty in the area has impacted on the lives of the youth. The lack of opportunities, the unemployment and a sense of hopelessness are the major causes of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and gang related crime here. Youth still at school state that they find themselves with nothing to do after school and work hours.

I think that what has been so special about being a part of the program is that I haven’t just learned a lot, I also had a place where I felt safe. And where I know that there is someone ready to help and support me if I need it.

Deagan, from the Youth Leader Program, South Africa

“Teenage pregnancies are a reality in our society. Each year a large percentage of girls falls pregnant and most of them don’t return to school. We thought it would be a good idea to implement a teenage pregnancy awareness campaign that will address all the aspects of the issue from prevention to the emotional and financial implications. We involved all the relevant stakeholders in the campaign, Department of Health, Social Workers & Police Services. Experiences were shared and we had good results because a lot of teenagers came to us afterwards and thanked us.

On a personal level I have learned so much about myself being a part of this program. Before, the term collaboration was very abstract to me, but the concept was made more practical during our sessions, making me feel equipped to become a collaborator. The program has helped me identify key issues and become more of a critical thinker. Beforehand I never knew that addressing issues locally on the ground can actually contribute to a global issue.”

Lurvine, from the Youth Leader Program, South Africa

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We are a volunteer run not-for-profit organisation and we depend on contributions from private people.