Studies:York University, Toronto, Canada
I am passionate about
I am passionate about youth development in Africa and am actively engaged as a practitioner in South Africa. My passion stems from the fact that about 65% of the total population of Africa, are below the age of 35 years, and over 35% are between the ages of 15 and 35 years - making Africa the most youthful continent. South Africa has a large population of youth, those between the ages 14-35, represent 42% of the total population. Some have called this “youth bulge” a ticking time bomb, while others see it as a great opportunity. I agree with the latter. I believe empowering youth in Africa is essential to building an engaged citizenry that can hold governments and their policies accountable to the people they purport to serve. In my opinion, currently youth development policy problem-based; focusing on solving a specific social issue amplified by a large youth population. For example, in South African policy, youth unemployment is tackled by trying to get youth to start businesses. Drawing from the theory and experience of positive youth development practice, I believe that an assets-based approach is more effective. I am determined to contribute to addressing this challenge through academic research in youth development policy and through practice in the field through my work at enke: Make Your Mark.
I currently lead enke: Make Your Mark, a youth leadership development organization that generates and incubates youth-led social impact. We run holistic programs and provide services to impart the skills and belief systems that enable youth to become the change they seek. We provide youth with theoretical and practical skills that enable them to be more effective leaders – people who have the desire and ability to identify and access opportunities for a more positive future. We do this through programs for high school youth, for post-school youth, and specialised services.
In South Africa, the traditional education system, with its focus on hard, technical skills, is not giving youth the soft (non-cognitive) skills to thrive in life beyond the classroom. This contributes to the rising youth unemployment rate, which is currently sitting at 41%, and the many issues that disproportionately impact youth. This has become a source of social unrest, individual despair and uncertainty for youth. Our focus is to reverse these trends by focusing on building the inherent assets of young people through their participation in social innovation and entrepreneurship. In the last 6 years we have grown and evolved into an organisation that inspires creative solutions and meaningful action.
I am also part of the Steering Committee of the newly established Social Enterprise Council of South Africa (SECOSA), a group of committed and passionate social entrepreneurs seeking to establish best practice and policy reform for social enterprise in South Africa. I am currently working towards a Masters in Management in Public Development Management from the Wits School of Governance, with a research focus on the role of civil society in the implementation of the National Youth Policy in South Africa, which is designed to gain insight into how civil society and government can work better together to ensure that youth are involved in policy design and implementation.