Civil society groups tap national employment fund

Loxion Mobile Library in Vrygrond is among the beneficiaries of a national employment fund.

Seven Western Cape organisations are among the 28 that have been selected to benefit from the R800 million national Social Employment Fund, which aims to create 50 000 job opportunities across South Africa.

The Nal’iBali Trust, Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading (VPUU), the Craft Design Institute, StellCare, The Learning Trust, ASSITEJ SA, and the Goedgedacht Trust were chosen.

The 28 civil society organisations are, in turn, supporting hundreds of informal community initiatives across rural and urban South Africa. One of these is the Loxion Mobile Library in Vrygrond.

This mobile library started in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when its founder Litha Sam-Sam began reading to children with just one children’s book.

Unpaid volunteers have supported the library since its inception but thanks to the Social Employment Fund, it now has a staff of ten who are being paid a stipend for eight days a month for the next seven months.

“We grew from nothing to something, and these days, every afternoon, we get young people coming to us asking us if they can help,” said Mr Sam-Sam. “We didn’t have a proper structure before getting funded, but now we do our work in a professional way and it’s getting us more organised to grow.”

The Social Employment Fund, which is championed by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition and administered by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) aims to create 50 000 employment opportunities and support activities that create social value in communities, in areas such as community safety, early childhood development, education programmes, food kitchens, arts and culture and responses to gender-based violence, among others.

It was established as part of phase two of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which was first announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2020.

The Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP) contributed to the design of the Social Employment Fund and has been contracted by the IDC to convene a Social Employment Network, a support platform for recipients of the fund.

Brian Adams, the EDP programme lead for the Social Employment Fund and the Social Employment Network, said: “The Social Employment Network is designed as a community of practice to extract learning and support strategic implementing partners as they navigate the roll-out of the Social Employment Fund.”

Tshepo Ramodibe, head of corporate affairs at the IDC, said: “As a fund manager, the IDC views the social employment programme as an innovative and important means of tackling both unemployment and supporting value creation in under-served communities. The implementing partners we have contracted to roll out the various projects across the country are performing fantastic work in service to communities.”