With local higher education institutions battling to come up with space to accommodate more students, a township-based online and real-life education platform is slowly turning around the lives of the Western Cape’s unemployed young people.
Kaya Labs, an initiative by Stellenbosch-based technologist Wesley Diphoko, helps develop skills and promote entrepreneurship.
“The goal is to enable everyone to access the best education by providing information from leading institutions and experts.
Hence, the inception of the Kaya Labs project.”
The business seeks to enable participants to learn and develop local solutions based on their understandings of challenges in their communities. Diphoko is no stranger to product creation. He is developing a mobile solution with a unique set of software applications.
“I realised that a number of black graduates in the information technology (IT) sector were not employed by corporates, partly owing to inexperience and other reasons that will take pages to explain.
A combination of these factors gave rise to Kaya Labs.”
While working as an online manager at a local university two years ago, Diphoko started small by bringing together a number of IT graduates to work with them on IT projects and assist them with on-the-job training.
He also received support from IT organisations in the province.
“The Cape IT Initiative was very supportive of the concept, under the leadership of its former executive director Jenny McKinnell and, as a result, a pilot was started at the Bandwidth Barn with students from the University of the Western Cape.”
Since then it has expanded and now has pilot centres in Nyanga, Delft and Kayamandi.
The Cape IT Initiative is non-profit organisation that aim to assist business owners and is supported by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to grow the IT sector in the province.
In Kayamandi, Kaya Labs has developed online platforms for schools. Former participants Zilumkile James and David Marais are now employed as IT business analysts at Pick n Pay and Old Mutual respectively. They previously faced unemployment owing to lack of work experience.
Participants are equipped through online tools, run their own websites, enrol for online courses and develop local technology projects.
The future aim is to work with hundreds of young people from townships to gain experience in IT, business management and product development.
Throughout the year-long programme, young people are assisted and mentored by experienced experts in the areas of research, problem identification and solutions development.
Participants work both individually and in groups to create and maintain their own websites, and also document their work.
Diphoko is establishing a lab in Khayelitsha to let local youngsters research and identify problems in their communities.
Kaya Labs, which is now one of the projects of the World Design Capital (WDC) Cape Town 2014, aims to establish labs in various townships. The WDC seeks to apply design thinking when developing solutions for local communities.
Kaya Labs participants are expected to present their solutions to a panel of investors, academics and government representatives at the end of each project. The project is scheduled to go national by 2015 and will also target rural areas.
- Go to www.kayalabs.co.za