This is a real ‘local is lekker’ story about three South African organisations that are making a positive impact on youth through investing in education, social behaviour change and job creation.
It’s an exciting example of how local businesses can support social outcomes in a sustainable way.
NGO gold-youth founder and CEO, Susannah Farr, had a dream “to see an entire generation realise their full social and economic potential and translate this potential into reality.” She has made this dream a reality for thousands, through founding the NGO in 2004 and dedicating her life to developing the youth in South African communities.
gold-youth, founded in 2004, mentors and trains grassroots youth, giving them the support and positive guidance that they so badly need in order to develop skills, leadership, to stay in school, make wise choices and inspire purpose-driven change within their schools and communities.
The gold model tackles the complex social dynamics of poverty and its impact on education and youth development and cultivates an entrepreneurial mindset, with a mandate given to the gold peer educators to give back and serve as part of the solution.
Farr founded a social enterprise, gold-enterprises, in 2011 as a strategy for gold-youth to have a long-term profit centre that contributes towards the work of gold-youth. gold-enterprises is also focused on youth job creation through creating scalable micro-business opportunities for graduates of the gold model.
Since 2004, gold-youth has created work-internship opportunities for 503 unemployed youth (aged 19 to 25), who have mentored and trained 12 924 adolescent opinion leaders (aged 13 to 18 years). These peer educators have in turn, measurably reached over 40 1035 additional peers and younger children.
“Our youth is our greatest resource,” said Farr. “Harnessing this raw power is not a quick process but the reward in the end is phenomenal.
“Society is quick to write off youth who are not showing obvious signs of success without taking into account their circumstances. gold-youth takes these youngsters and says: ‘You are special and you’ve got something to give back.’ And you know what? They blossom,” she said.
gold-youth is a not-for-profit organisation and donations are an important income stream for it to fund its work. That’s why support from Sneaker LAB and TFG (The Foschini Group) is essential.
“The team at gold-youth is excited about our partnership with Sneaker Lab. They donate a portion of their sales to us on a monthly basis and are the first sponsor to support the ‘gold in your soul’ initiative,” said Farr.
“Sneaker LAB customers can see that they are supporting gold-youth when they make a purchase because of the ‘gold in your soul’ sticker on Sneaker LAB products. The visibility we get through their global sales footprint is incredibly valuable. Their success is our success.”
Jo Farah, founder and CEO of Sneaker LAB, wanted to build a brand that manufactured product locally, was environmentally friendly and supported the local economy.
“It was important for me to be a part of positive change in South Africa. My vision was to create local jobs that supported the growth of a proudly South African brand that could compete on a global level,” said Farah.
Established in 2012 – with one of TFG’s brands, Sportscene, as their first customer – Sneaker LAB now exports to about 49 countries and is growing rapidly.
Farah said Sneaker LAB genuinely wanted to be part of the change in South Africa. “This is our home and the only way we are going to improve things and realise our full potential as a nation is if we work together. The goals of gold-youth and our view of social responsibility are very much aligned, making our partnership the ideal fit”.
Said TFG retail director, Manie Maritz: “TFG believes that the youth are our future leaders and it is our collective responsibility to train and develop them into leaders who will positively impact the future of South Africa.
“TFG is supportive of local suppliers and we are very happy that because Sneaker LAB is a supplier to our Sportscene, Totalsports, Duesouth and Markham stores, we are contributing to youth development and local job creation,” said Maritz.
For more information on gold-youth visit www.goldyouth.org/