The Mandela Initiative aims to showcase – and engage with – promising initiatives that can inform strategies to address poverty and inequality in South Africa. These include work in regions or communities by our partners, collaborators and contributors from government, civil society, churches, business, unions and communities themselves. In this section of the website, we are maintaining a growing list of such initiatives, with short descriptions and links for more information.
Africa meets Africa
As a non-profit company and non-profit organisation, the Africa meets Africa (AmA) project facilitates innovative thinking and effective teaching methodologies in South African schools by empowering educators to respond imaginatively and pragmatically to the needs and context of their learners. AmA supports especially rural learning ecologies by validating knowledge systems within existing traditions of cultural expression. In this process the project facilitates knowledge exchange between rural-based custodians of heritage and its team of academic specialists. Africa meets Africa’s integrated approach to learning is yielding concrete results in the rural classroom, bridging learning in the arts, history, mathematics and science, whilst helping teachers meet the requirements of the current national curriculum. The project produces a series of resource packs of interactive learning materials which include a book, film and curriculum learning materials for the classroom, and provides educator training and support in the use of the materials.
Prior to the 1994 elections in South Africa, black-owned or occupied land was often forcibly taken and given to white farmers. This is now being addressed by the current government through its land redistribution programme, but it is facing many problems. Land has been returned to families with little or no experience in farming, meaning farms fall into dis-use or production drops, while skilled white farmers have no land. In order to try to address this, Amadlelo was established in 2004 by 70 commercial dairy farmers in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The aim was to take under- or un-utilised land and develop it to its full potential, train local community members in farming and management, and address some of the issues facing the dairy industry in South Africa.
Centre for Integrated Post-School Education and Training
The Centre for Integrated Post-School Education and Training (CIPSET) aims to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to develop and implement research-informed strategies to enhance the strategic, policy and educational impact of the post-school education and training (PSET) sector regionally and nationally. CIPSET provides strategic direction and coordination for the Nelson Mandela Metropole University’s multi-disciplinary capacity development interventions within the PSET landscape to ensure that such institutions become educational providers of first choice.
Chrysalis Academy is an initiative of the Western Cape Provincial Cabinet, established in 2000 in response to the province’s high crime rate due to especially substance abuse and a gang culture in Cape Town’s mainly disadvantaged communities. The result was a holistic and sustainable five-year youth development programme based on a unique three-month empowerment training course that focuses on the individual’s physical, emotional, mental, energetic and spiritual development. The programme is preventative rather than rehabilitative. Registered as a non-profit organisation mainly funded by the provincial Department of Community Safety, it has trained over 6,000 youth from different local communities to be empowered for the challenges of life.
Donald Woods Foundation
The Donald Woods Foundation emerged in 2003 with the aim of driving and facilitating rural upliftment and empowerment, and improving rural communities’ access to health and education. Extended consultation was undertaken with rural communities in the Eastern Cape province, where the journalist and anti-apartheid activist Donald Woods was born, about what specific interventions were needed to assist recovery from the effects of systemic and long-term deprivation. These resulted in the development of extensive health, education and rural development programmes in close partnership with local communities and traditional leaders to ensure both relevance and long-term sustainability. The Foundation focuses on the most alienated, least-supported people living furthest from the road, clinic or utilities.
An independent forum for critical public debate on unemployment and employment, income distribution and inclusive growth in South Africa. It publishes accessible research-based contributions and commentaries by economists and other social science researchers, policy-makers and relevant experts. The forum encourages debate on an integrated and consistent policy response to unemployment, inequality and poverty and a stronger engagement between research and policy-making. The forum is an initiative of the Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth (REDI3X3) – a national collaborative, independent research initiative supported by the National Treasury and based at SALDRU at the University of Cape Town.
Farmer Support Group, University of KwaZulu-Natal
FSG was established in 1985 in the Department of Plant Pathology of the, then, University of Natal, with the aim of making relevant scientific knowledge available to smallholder farmers. It now conducts action research to address issues pertinent to resource-constrained farmers. It also provides training, advice and project support in sustainable farming (including agroecology), nature conservation, strengthening local institutions, and enterprise development. Training is provided to development practitioners and students in participatory approaches to research and extension. Community members and other partner service providers, including government extension staff and scientists, participate in designing and implementing projects.
Conservation agriculture (CA) provides an attractive alternative for smallholders where environmental and economic stresses have reduced grain production considerably. For that reason, a long-term project has been launched in various smallholder study areas in the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces to investigate and promote the use of CA for sustainable crop production. These smallholder projects, within the CA Farmer Innovation Programme (FIP) at Grain SA and The Maize Trust, have been established through collaboration with Mahlathini Development Foundation. The projects are aimed at investigating farmer-centred innovation systems and processes assisting smallholder farmers in growing maize and legumes using CA practices.
Hantam Community Education Trust
The Hantam Community Education Trust is a comprehensive educational and development project, situated in the Great Karoo region, that strives to break the cycle of poverty for this marginalised and deeply rural community. Begun as a play school in a disused farm building 25 years ago, it has grown into an early learning centre, primary school and intermediate school. The Trust utilises advanced educational methods, including innovative new approaches to achieving basic numeracy and literacy, and helps learners to complete further education and training. It also manages community health and youth development programmes. Community members play an active role in governing the Trust and the project has won numerous awards, including the State President’s Award for Community Initiative in the Northern Cape.
Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator
Harambee is a youth employment accelerator which connects employers looking for entry-level talent to young, high-potential work-seekers who are currently locked out of the formal economy. A non-profit organisation started in 2011, Harambee recruits candidates where existing corporate recruitment networks do not reach, assesses their competencies and matches them to jobs where they are most likely to succeed. High-quality work readiness programmes that directly address the risks identified by employers in taking on first-time workers are then delivered to candidates to help prepare them for the world of employment. To date Harambee has placed over 30,000 young people with more than 300 of South Africa’s top employers nationally.
Karoo Development Foundation
The project to create a Karoo Development Foundation is part of the Arid Areas Programme, which examines the economic potential of the Greater Karoo, so that it can influence future government planning and expenditures. The aim is to create a sense of local ownership and pride in the unique and diverse cultural, architectural and natural heritages of the Karoo; promote regional cohesion in the Karoo; and promote sustainable socio-economic development in the Karoo.
IkamvaYouth equips learners from disadvantaged communities with the knowledge, skills, networks and resources to access tertiary education and/or employment opportunities once they matriculate. IkamvaYouth aims to increase the collective skill level of the population, to grow the national knowledge base, and to replicate success in more communities. The IkamvaYouth model draws from a large pool of volunteers made up of students (from nearby universities) and local professionals. The organisation’s sustainability is driven by ex-learners who gain entrance to tertiary institutions and return to tutor. It is a non-profit organisation with branches in five provinces in South Africa, currently operating in the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Eastern Cape.
Penreach is a non-government organisation focusing on education interventions in a pipeline from early childhood to matric for learners, teachers, and school leadership. Each year, 1 400 educators voluntarily attend Penreach from more than 600 different schools, which means that the Penreach influence indirectly reaches more than 370 000 learners annually. Penreach focuses its efforts on core interventions to address the educational challenges from early childhood to matric by developing quality ECD practitioners with holistic child development initiatives; increasing professional development of, and pedagogical content knowledge of teachers; increasing academic learner performance; and empowering school leadership to run schools effectively.
Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Project
The Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Project has been addressing maternal, child health and nutrition problems in the informal settlements outside Cape Town since 1979. Their approach to the many issues affecting maternal and child health is holistic and includes creating a stimulating environment for children to learn and play as well as providing skills development for income generation so that mothers may become economically independent. Their programmes promote family health, focusing on the support of pregnant mothers, prevention of child malnutrition and the rehabilitation of underweight children.
Poverty and Inequality Initiative, University of Cape Town
UCT’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative (PII) has its origins in the university’s long tradition of research, teaching and social responsiveness, linked to the goals of political, economic and social transformation in South Africa. The PII provides central institutional support and academic leadership, promotes knowledge sharing, cross-disciplinary collaboration and communication – both within and beyond the university community – to expand and raise the profile of UCT’s collective contribution to addressing challenges posed by poverty and inequality. It brings together high-profile members from diverse disciplines across the university – at regular meetings, seminars and other events – to share knowledge and promote collaborative research into the complex challenges posed by poverty and inequality. In addition, the PII plays a leading role in the Mandela Initiative’s vision to contribute to strategies to overcome poverty and inequality, launched at conference at UCT in 2012.
Southern Africa Food Lab
The Southern Africa Food Lab brings together diverse, influential stakeholders in southern African food systems in order to respond to systemic issues in creative ways and to inspire change in how we think and act on complex social challenges. The SAFL is housed under the umbrella of the Food Security Initiative at Stellenbosch University.
Wordworks is a South African non-profit organisation that focuses on early language and literacy development in the first eight years of children’s lives. They have worked, since 2005, in under-resourced communities with those adults best positioned to impact on young children’s language and literacy development – parents and caregivers, family and community members, home-visitors, early childhood development practitioners and Grade R to Grade 3 teachers. Wordworks supports a growing network of individuals, schools, organisations and institutions that promote the importance of, and work for the improvement of children’s early language and literacy, through their association with Wordworks’ programmes and materials. They provide initial training and support for those using their resource-based programmes in homes, classrooms and community settings.
TechnoServe is a non-profit organisation operating in 29 countries, and a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. In South Africa, their work is closely aligned with the government’s National Development Plan, which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by drawing on the energies of the people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing state capacity and promoting leadership and partnerships. TechnoServe’s vision is to help generate sustainable growth across the country and to make the benefits and opportunities of economic growth accessible to everyone. They work with smallholder farmers to build competitive farms and gain access to formal markets and financial services, and with entrepreneurs from different sectors to help grow successful businesses that generate jobs and income in their communities.