Creating new possibilities for South Africa’s youth

Education, sports & health, and equal opportunities for up to 200,000 South Africans in the coming years: AMANDLA's Safe-Hub model provides holistic development that enables young people living in structurally-disadvantaged areas to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Many young people in South Africa grow up in difficult conditions and are affected by precarious socioeconomic circumstances. These include low incomes, cramped or unsafe housing, substance abuse and high rates of crime and violence, especially against girls and women. In addition, young people often lack positive role models. Furthermore, they have very limited opportunities to access quality and relevant education. Youth unemployment is particularly high in South Africa, with over 50% of people under 35 being unemployed.

The Safe-Hubs designed for these young people ensure their emotional and physical wellbeing and personal growth. Through sports activities, they gain new self-confidence and acquire social skills. With the “PlayMaker program” in the Safe-Hubs, they can simultaneously take advantage of a wide range of training opportunities, health and education courses, and personal development opportunities.

Bringing education, health and entrepreneurship together

All South African Safe-Hubs are located in townships communities. Located outside of city centres, townships are informal housing settlements that were created during apartheid to exclude people of color from white cities. The lingering effects of apartheid are still palpable here, as structural inequality is pervasive. Therefore, in order to create equal opportunities, interventions like the Safe-Hub model are needed. As an educational and sports campus in and for township communities, each Safe-Hub aims to ensure that every young person can access equal opportunities and realize their full potential. To this end, the Safe-Hubs and their diverse programs address the root causes of poverty, unemployment, health and educational inequality.

These services include psychosocial counseling, business incubation courses that serve as a springboard for local start-ups, and the specialized EduFootball program, which imparts important values and soft skills through sports. Another essential component of the Safe-Hub infrastructure is the Digital Lab, where young people not only develop important digital literacy skills but also learn programming languages or receive training in online marketing.

To further address high rates of youth unemployment, the Safe-Hubs offer various job readiness and employability programs, such as the PlayMaker program. In this year-long program, young adults become mentors to teenage participants who benefit from the support and advice of positive role models in their immediate environment. PlayMakers also take part in personal development, IT skills, and job application workshops.

Over the last 15 years, AMANDLA has demonstrated the impressive impact of its model: in the catchment area of the first Safe-Hub in Khayelitsha, contact crime has decreased by 44%, while participants in the primary school program have shown an average improvement of 49% in their academic results. Safe-Hubs have provided permanent employment or training opportunities to 90% of participating youth who were previously not engaged in employment, education, or training.

The knodel foundation has been supporting the social business organization AMANDLA since 2020 and is actively promoting the scaling of its Safe-Hub model in South Africa, with a goal of operating 15 Safe-Hubs nationally by 2026, reaching up to 200,000 children and young people.