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Noluvuyo Gqadu, 34

Noluvuyo Gqadu, 34

Technology is the key to unlocking all sorts of opportunities for the youth, and no one knows that better than Noluvuyo Gqadu, founder of CodeNgwana, which teaches children from disadvantaged areas how to code. “I’ve also written stories about technology for kids and...

Jameelah Omar, 33

Jameelah Omar, 33

Visiting the University of Cape Town’s upper campus with her parents, neither of whom had had a tertiary education, eight-year-old Jameelah Omar marvelled at its sprawling ivy and decided that she would one day study there — and she did. With bursaries for both her...

Zilungile Zimela, 32

Zilungile Zimela, 32

When asked what drives her to excel, Zilungile Zimela says: “I am driven by the rural, marginalised and segregated child who does not see beyond the grazing farms and marriage as an immediate attainment of a goal for a girl child.” Zimela was a founding member of the...

Kagiso Kgomane, 29

Kagiso Kgomane, 29

Providing skills development and opening doors for young people is what drives Kagiso Kgomane, the founder and chairperson of the Ga-Rankuwa-based organisation, For The Youth By The Youth. It helps matric learners from disadvantaged communities to access higher...

Athenkosi Nzala, 29

Athenkosi Nzala, 29

Since graduating with a BSc honors in civil engineering and a masters in educational technology from the University of Cape Town, Athenkosi Nzala has gained years of experience in leadership and development from working with companies like the Mandela Rhodes...

Glad Kaiser, 33

Glad Kaiser, 33

Soweto-based Glad Kaiser is the publisher and self-declared “head honcho” at his own publishing house, which occupies an extraordinary niche. Inspired by the story of the world’s youngest published author, a four-year-old American girl named Dorothy Straight (who has...

Leana de Beer, 35

Leana de Beer, 35

Started as a response to #FeesMustFall, Feenix is a public benefit organisation that gives students a platform to formalise their fundraising efforts, connecting them with communities that are willing to fund their education. Since 2017, Feenix has supported more than...

Iviwe Mtubu, 20

Iviwe Mtubu, 20

Student and intern teacher Iviwe Mtubu is determined to fight the education system that allows poverty to hinder a child’s opportunities. He’s a director at SHAWCO, a student-led organisation that designs programmes to enhance township education, and is introducing a...

Swati Dhlamini, 26

Swati Dhlamini, 26

Swati Dhlamini is an attorney with a passion for community work and youth development. Through the Ubuciko Youth Development Agency, the non-profit organisation he founded, Dhlamini seeks to help people in his community reach their full potential. The agency assists...

Nasrin Olla, 31

Nasrin Olla, 31

Nasrin Olla is a visiting scholar at Brown University. Before arriving at Brown, Olla completed her master’s and PhD at Cornell University. In 2020, she was awarded Cornell’s Guilford Prize for the best dissertation of the year. “One writes a dissertation in relative...

Nomacala Mpeta, 29

Nomacala Mpeta, 29

Nomacala Mpeta is a learning theory and strategy game- changer, programme developer and designer, insurer of quality, monitor and trainer, among other things. Her pride comes from seeing young people who didn’t have many opportunities presented to them graduate from...

Michelle Nkamankeng, 12

Michelle Nkamankeng, 12

Michelle Nkamankeng is a truly astounding young girl. She published her first book at the age of seven, making her the youngest published author in South Africa and Africa, and one of the youngest 10 published authors globally. Now, at the age of 12, she has three...

Merle Mansfield, 33

Merle Mansfield, 33

Merle Mansfield started her schooling career with over 300 fellow grade eights, but matriculated in a class of just 53. “At the time, this was not significant to anyone, including me,” she says. Now Mansfield is committed to tackling the normalisation of dropping out...

Lindsay Moshesh-Van der Byl, 35

Lindsay Moshesh-Van der Byl, 35

Linzito Inspires is a company created by Lindsay Moshesh-Van der Byl, a motivational speaker committed to arts, culture, sports and fitness. He wants to inspire people to grow beyond their circumstances and become the best versions of themselves. One of his greatest...

Jaden Corker, 19

Jaden Corker, 19

Jaden Corker is a second-year university student who wants to graduate so he can teach high school education. But he is already working to ensure young people have access to better education. During the pandemic, Corker sent an email to the Western Cape department of...

Zanele Maduna, 28

Zanele Maduna, 28

This 28-year-old has no fear and is determined to break the poverty cycle with education. Zanele Maduna is the founder and chief executive of No Valo Holdings. It provides coaching support, mentorship programmes and e-learning services to university students and young...

Frans Lesetja, 30

Frans Lesetja, 30

Frans Lesetja is a social worker from Ga-Maja village in Limpopo who wants to see more learners furthering their studies without difficulty and graduating to become employable citizens. He works with vulnerable and often orphaned children. “My work includes placing...

Grace Sibanda, 24

Grace Sibanda, 24

Grace Sibanda started a non-profit organisation that seeks to empower the more vulnerable children in our communities through education, entrepreneurship and skills development. By creating opportunities such as spelling bees, leadership programmes and the planned...

Aldridge Munyoro, 32

Aldridge Munyoro, 32

Growing up with albinism in South Africa, Aldridge Munyoro endured years of struggle and discrimination. Now he is driven by that experience to change lives and create a better society. “You are a seed, and when life’s tribulations try to bury you is when you start to...

Chumile Samson, 31

Chumile Samson, 31

Chumile Samson is a PhD candidate in political science at Stellenbosch University, where he completed his honours in international studies. He serves as the head of communications for the South African Youth for International Diplomacy alongside his studies. “As head...

Lazarus Kgageng, 20

Lazarus Kgageng, 20

Community is everything for Lazarus Kgageng and he created the Thola Lesedi Foundation in 2016 when he was in grade 10. Starting the Pens Up career exhibition was his next step: inviting various professionals to share their experiences in their respective fields with...

Lebogang Diale, 30

Lebogang Diale, 30

Democratising education in South Africa is the task Lebogang Diale has set himself. As the cofounder and executive director of Gradesmatch, an ed-tech company using big data and artificial intelligence to create tools and technologies, Diale is helping young people...

Bulelani Jili, 28

Bulelani Jili, 28

Driven by the rapid advancement of global surveillance technology, Bulelani Jili plays an integral role in emphasising the need for adequate checks and balances to strengthen regulatory frameworks and cybersecurity to protect citizens in Africa. “The continued and...

Boitumelo Ramatsetse, 31

Boitumelo Ramatsetse, 31

Boitumelo Ramatsetse has worked for almost a decade as a lecturer specialising in mechanical engineering design and manufacturing. Preparing students for the industry, Ramatsetse says: “Practical assessments are fundamental in creating a learning-friendly environment...

Itumeleng Mohanoe, 32

Itumeleng Mohanoe, 32

Affectionately known as Coach Itu, Itumeleng Mohanoe is the cofounder and chief executive of the Coach Itu Academy. As a debating coach, Mohanoe travels with teams throughout Africa and the world. His proudest moment in these travels was making it possible for an...

Dzivhu Mavhungu, 32

Dzivhu Mavhungu, 32

As a self-described “skillspreneur”, Dzivhu Mavhungu is in the business of building the potential of young people, nurturing the skills and experiences that will support them throughout their careers. Through his business EarlyCareers, and by undertaking a PhD at the...

Mlamuli Mbambo, 35

Mlamuli Mbambo, 35

The financial statistics for the average African are horrifying, says financial adviser Mlamuli Mbambo. He founded Money Fundi to provide people with financial education to improve their relationship with money and the skills to achieve financial wellbeing. “I want to...

Cyril Madiba, 34

Cyril Madiba, 34

A chartered accountant working as a senior finance specialist in Absa Group’s financial control unit, Cyril Madiba combines his banking career with involvement in a variety of bursary providers, youth coaching programmes and mentorship initiatives. Alongside his role...

Gugulethu Radebe, 26

Gugulethu Radebe, 26

Gugulethu Radebe juggles two jobs, both helping young people to get ahead in life. As the youth programmes coordinator at IKhaya LeLanga, she works with young men from Langa who are vulnerable to socioeconomic exclusion in their society. She’s also the founding...

John Molepo, 31

John Molepo, 31

John Molepo has dedicated his professional career to good governance and promoting effective service delivery. He is a senior lecturer and programme leader for the public administration department at the University of Mpumalanga. In this capacity, alongside his...