Emergent Business and Coding Academy (Ladies in Tech)

We empower youth with 21st century skills and create meaningful opportunities to enable them to become active citizens

Photo of Lusanda Magwape
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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Zipho Falakha

Initiative's representative date of birth

19 October 1994

Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • South Africa

Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

www.dreamfactoryfoundation.org, www.facebook.com/dreamfactoryfoundation, Instagram: @dreamfactory_foundation

When was your organisation founded?

November 2011

Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $10k - $50k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

In 2011, I was actively involved in the community work, particularly in schools that my church in Cape Town was doing at the time. Having come from a great schooling background I was deeply touched by the lack of resources and opportunities that faced young people in these communities; yet they were hungry for change. So I asked a celebrity friend to join me on an inspirational school roadshow to inspire learners to dream beyond their circumstances. We didn't have anything tangible to give at the time, but I was moved by how her celebratory status made the message that she carried even more powerful; she inspired hope in those learners lives. I knew I couldn't stop and as we gained support from others, the organization started to take shape

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

Young black women makeup 49.1% of unemployed South Africans aged 15-34 (StatsSA). These women live in densely populated low-income communities and are the most affected by socio-economic factors such as high crime rates, youth unemployment and early-child pregnancy. We therefore seek to address the lack of skills and knowledge for employment which affects their ability to find formal jobs (Wong:2012) and/or become economically active

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The academy is a six month learnership that trains unemployed youth, particularly young women with business, personal and professional development, job-readiness, coding and digital technologies skills. Throughout the week, these young people advance their Computer Science skills such that at the end of the academy they are competent in working with Wordpress, html & CSS, and javascript. They are able to know how to develop their own website, as well as how to integrate these skills with starting their own business, problem solving and excelling academically. We also offer first-hand job experience in the form of paid internships so that participants can put their skills to work and "pay it forward". We therefore balance skills development with shifting entrepreneurial mindsets. We improve access to basic services by engaging students in innovative, hands-on-technology, skills development, job creation; as well as quality, "up-to-date" and relevant education.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Being the first of its kind in SA, our learning approach is unique and innovative because we use authentic work environments that combine a subject of academic study such as business with its real-world surroundings and activities to improve participants’ academic outcomes and also increase their employability and opportunities to become economically active. We also focus on training participants on digital and coding skills because we strongly feel that being an under-served community, they are often the ones left behind from being equipped and prepared for the 21st century, which further perpetuates unemployment in these communities. Yet, the digital economy in South Africa is growing with large opportunities of untapped growth potential.

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

One of the employability related modules we cover on the academy is job-readiness, personal and professional development where we cover topics such as communication (incl verbal and non-verbal, formal v. non-formal), presentation, conflict resolution, to name but a few. Students are given practical simulations where they put these skills to work and are evaluated & given feedback. Business is one of our core subjects where learners tackle real life problems and are given the necessary tools to do so. Developing their entrepreneurial skills gives them adaptability to survive any in market. They are given several opportunities to work in teams to develop their team-working and leadership skills. We believe and research has shown that problem-solving and soft-skills such as people skills are one of the vital skills our participants require in order to survive in the future job market.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

Through the business, personal and professional development, coding and digital technologies courses we develop the following critical skills for the future: creativity, emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication (through constant interaction with their classmates through assignments and general class activities), critical thinking, leadership and technology skills. We measure progress through one-on-one interviews & surveys, completing a business plan where their pitch their idea to a panel of experts for feedback, they also write tests and assignment with 50% expected pass rate

6. Financial capability: how is your organization or project creating innovative solutions that arm people with ability to optimize their current and future financial health

Participants are responsible to pay at least 10% of the academy fees, and for those who cannot afford, they are provided with loans that are paid back once they start working. This arrangement trains them to place value and priority on their personal development through their finances. Most of them use their money first on bread and butter issues and personal development is never a priority. Yet, through this loan system we strengthen their ability to save, responsibility to pay back and invest in their personal development as a means to secure better income in the future.

6a. Please describe what aspect of financial capability your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress.

The business course gives learners the opportunity to enhance their financial capabilities. They not only evaluate their business financials but also evaluate their personal finances. They have the opportunity to learn from our financial experts in this regard, where they are challenged on how to prioritize their finances especially in the relation to running and growing their business. Their business plans must include financials, a financial sustainability plan and projects of their sales and expenses. For most of them, this new experience empowers their personal financial management as well

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

One of the organization's addressing the issue of youth unemployment and we collaborate with is Harambee. Whilst our proposed job, like Harambee seeks to get young people working, we have a more focused approach: reaching young women especially, for the reasons highlighted above in low-income communities and also not to just get them to work,

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Since 2018, the academy has trained over 132 unemployed youth, 70% of whom are young women. 80% of them have received economic opportunities in the form of employment, tertiary education and or started their own entrepreneurial initiative. In the same year we started rolling a coding campaign to empower as many young people with basic coding and digital skills as possible. We have empowered over 15 500 young people to date. This video is a testimonial of one of our students: https://www.facebook.com/dreamfactoryfoundation/videos/856989534740800/; as well as the Local Heroes video we were awarded last year: https://drive.google.com/open?id=103dsXnlM-tKzMDHD31mJg13DTCtBT-nx. The organization was also awarded the USAID Young Women Prize in 2019: https://www.youthpower.org/2018-prize.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

1. Self-generating income through: a.Charging the students a nominal fee of $25. We found that when students pay even a small amount, their commitment and value of the program improves because they have made a personal investment for their own development. This ensures also operational costs for the project are met. b. Our expertise in low-income communities have made us experts for companies that want to do research or activate their products in these communities. As such, we have started a consulting company to offer such services and have already received contracts to the tune of $10 000 to support our staffing costs in the short-term to long-term. c. We also have sound equipment we hire out as well as sublease our office premises

10. Team

Lusanda Magwape, Founder and Executive Director, qualified attorney by profession. Full time Nomfundo Dlangisa, Chief Operating Officer, Qualified Chartered Account. Full time Zipho Falakhe, Projects Manager, Public health behaviourist. Full time Tatenda Ruswa, ICT Officer, Software Programmer. Full time Christelle Atibia, Financial Officer, Bookkeeping. Full time We also have a six member board team. The team will evolve as we include two program facilitators, an M & E and an HR officer

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Race
  • Ethnic group
  • Gender

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

When the apartheid laws which prohibited "blacks" from attending “white” schools were removed, I distinctly remember how my interviewer laughed at my inability to speak English. Five years later, I would win the English award at that school. My father was convinced that if he could provide me with the best education, it would set me on a successful course in life. I therefore regard it as my moral obligation to play my part in improving the education that the black child receives.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

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