Young volunteers to empower SA communities through technology

BRAND VOICE | Twenty young professionals ready to start projects and give back to communities

The next batch of Vodacom Change the World volunteers is ready to start.
The next batch of Vodacom Change the World volunteers is ready to start.
Image: Supplied/Vodacom Foundation

To help advance youth economic empowerment, Vodacom has given a facelift to Vodacom Change the World by relaunching the programme as an information and communication technology (ICT) and youth volunteerism initiative.

Vodacom Change the World helps create work-experience opportunities for young people, who in turn will use their skills and time to give back to their communities through the non-profit organisations (NPOs) of their choice. The selected candidates are placed at these NPOs for a year across all nine provinces. Each NPO receives a grant and the volunteer a monthly stipend during the partnership.

On Thursday November 2 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, 20 young professionals were announced as the 2017 intake. They are excited and looking forward to starting their projects and giving back to South Africa’s communities.

The Vodacom Change the World programme was introduced in 2011, giving individuals the opportunity to volunteer their time and skills to work for a NPO for 12 months. To date, 111 volunteers have already made a difference through their placement at a range of NPOs.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer of corporate affairs at Vodacom Group, said: “Statistics released by Statistics South Africa in August this year indicate that youth unemployment is at its highest since 2003, with more than 50% of the youth between the ages of 15 and 24 jobless. In a contracting economy, the prospects of addressing this challenge of unemployment at a faster pace are dim. It is against this background that Vodacom revised the volunteer programme in order to contribute to national youth development programmes.

“Through the Change the World programme, the youth are afforded a unique opportunity to do something close to their hearts while imparting their ICT skills to help society. As the impacts of the fourth industrial revolution are going to be felt hardest by the youth and women in particular, we see this as an opportunity to help bridge the digital divide in communities while preparing young people for a future in a fast-digitising world.

“In this first youth intake, I am pleased to see that 60% are women and 70% of the ICT projects will focus on education. Accordingly, through this programme Vodacom is also contributing to the attainment of several interrelated sustainable development goals.”

Netshitenzhe said she was confident that on completion of the programme, the 20 youth volunteers would be armed with vital work experience, enhanced skills, self-fulfilment and access to networks that will create more opportunities for them to contribute to economic development in South Africa.

– Sunday World in association with the Vodacom Foundation