Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development Programme

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10 years ago a wise chief had a vision – to create a meeting place where young and old would gather to share the finest wisdom the land could offer. A place where everyone (young or old; bold or timid; pink or blue) would feel welcome and every learning experience is a feast.

Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development (previously Life Skills and Mentorship Programme) is an award winning, innovative and inspirational youth skills and entrepreneurship development initiative that aims to positively impact participants’ future academic, social, entrepreneurial and career paths that was founded in 2004 by Steven Zwane (Chairperson) under the banner of PAPO Communications with the vision of touch a million young people by the year 2017 through designing, developing, and executing youth development interventions that seeks to address challenges that young people face.

Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development (YLED) is a Youth – Led NGO where the volunteers don’t only do the activist work; they are also developed and stretched.

We believe that the nurturing of young minds is about giving them hope through compelling personal stories shared by professionals from various walks of life or professions, and we have able to achieve that through strategic partnerships, volunteers and friends of YLED, we have seen more than 5000 learners from a number of high schools in Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal have benefited from YLED efforts.

It is a proven fact that the following challenges exists in relation to young people in South Africa as a whole

  • Traditional education often falls short of providing young people with the basic life skills they need to succeed - in school, their communities and future work places.
  • According to Statistics South Africa, between Q4: 2013 and Q1: 2014 employment decreased by 122 000 largely due decrease of 110 000 jobs observed in the informal sector
  • The Department of Economic Development stated that unemployment is a major national challenge and needs urgent and coordinated responses to address it.
  • It is generally acknowledged that entrepreneurs, irrespective of their age, are regularly involved in decision-making activities concerning the acquisition, allocation and utilisation of resources. Having acquired these skills, it helps entrepreneurs to be financially literate.
  • YLED supplements the work of education and aims to ensure that the graduates are employable, appreciate entrepreneurship as a life skill and an alternative career as well as help them deal with life challenges in school and within society
  • Gauteng Department of Economic Development has endorsed YLED in quest to deliver the nurture young minds and develop future leaders as it relates to the theme of fifth administration of radical transformation, re-industrialisation and modernisation. The department has asks corporates and interested parties to support this initiative wherever possible and as best as they can.

Through our interventions, we seek to impart life skills for success and develop the entrepreneurial spirit amongst in-school learners and out of school youth from historically disadvantaged and urban communities by upskilling and preparing them for the future.

Our Interventions:

Youth Leadership & Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YLED) gives selected in-school learners, out of school youth and in higher learning institutions youth the opportunity to have their leadership, interpersonal and entrepreneurship skills honed through 4 different skills models, namely

  • Life Skills  - creates a platform that aids the learning of life skills that will seek to build a good foundation for self-development. I.e. Communication Skills, Problem Solving Skills, Financial Literacy Skills etc.
  • Career Development Skills – Provides the learners with the necessary guidelines that will facilitate career awareness and arm participants with the appropriate career selection tools that will inform their intended fields of study.
  • Entrepreneurship Skills – educates the learners of business skills in order to develop an understanding of business organisations and provide them with real and practical experience in running small businesses of their own. How to start a business, what is a business, how to structure a business, market and product selection, sales plan development, practical execution of a business idea, understanding the company’s responsibility towards the society – CSI execution and how to liquidate a company
  • Leadership Skills – young people gain skills and knowledge necessary to lead in any environment and understand the importance of this competency (that involves working in a team, decision making and managing people) as they prepare for their possibilities. E.g. Youth Leadership Camp

The Participants tend to be

  • Township school learners, Village School learners, Private school and Multi-racial schools learners
  • 60% female and 40% male
  • Driven and committed to the cause – 95% attendance and completion rate
  • Diverse groups of young people representative if the country’s demographics

Our interventions involves a very strict selection process, is designed to develop talent and earmark young people for success by equipping young people, aged 16 to 26, with a range of skills that will help them stay in school and get education, start their own enterprises, gain professional and self employment skills, be effective employees and build the confidence they need to succeed in life.
Implementation history - Youth Skills Development Programmes since 2004

  • 2004 – Dobsonville High Schools (LSM)
  • 2005 – 2006 – Accenture South Africa (LSM)
  • 2006 – 2011 – First National Bank (YLED)
  • Career Day 2008 and 2009
  • 2010 – Limpopo (Dept. of Education, FNB, Capricorn FM, McDonalds Limpopo, Vezi & De Beer and Capricorn FM)
  • 2011 – Young Women Dialogue (Sesego Cares and Absa)
  • 2012 – ABSA YLED
  • 2013 – Young Women in Dialogue (ABSA Business Bank, Wits SCR, Wits Business School)
  • 2013 – Liberty Church & Milpark Business School Life Skills Training
  • 2014 – ABSA YLED Programme


  • Winner: Initiative Best Aligned to the CSI focus area of a top bank’s Foundation (LSM)
  • Finalist: Mail & Guardian’s 2007 investing in the Future Awards (LSM)
  • Merit Award: Exceptional Team (employees involved in the execution of the Life Skills and Mentorship Programme)
  • Winner: Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future Awards for The Best Corporate Employee Community Involvement 2011 – (Life Skills and Mentorship Programme)

With life, leadership and entrepreneurship training and ongoing support, these young people can soon be driven to achieve academic, career and entrepreneurial success which will see them supplementing their income and even supporting themselves full-time through their new enterprises.

Our ambition is to launch our initiatives nationally and see it grow on a nationwide basis in the next five years, which in term it will enable the NGO to have an impact in the compilation of future school curriculums that will seek to effectively combine academia, life and entrepreneurial skills to the development of a complete young person, and ultimately becoming the ideal CSI and business imperative for all organisations that participate in its execution.

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