Youth activist and entrepreneur, Neftaly Malatjie, is the recipient of the 2016 Inyathelo award for Philanthropy in Youth Development.
Neftaly is the founder and CEO of The Southern Africa Youth Project which is an organisation dedicated to change the way that young people think of themselves. There are currently three branches in Atok, Daveyton and Diepsloot.
Neftaly describes Diepsloot, the community where he first established the Southern Africa Youth Project as being a united community but one that is mired in frustration. He says: “People get frustrated that the promises they receive are not fulfilled, whether those promises are made on behalf of politicians or any other people coming into the community to deliver a service.” Neftaly saw the effects of living in continued frustration and with limited opportunity on young people. “So many young people migrate from the rural areas to Johannesburg on the assumption that they will live a better life, and when they get there the situation doesn’t match what they hoped for. Instead they find that they come to areas like Diepsloot which are highly overpopulated and where they have to fight for basic survival and where they lose confidence and hope and they turn to unhappy ways of making money, because they have to survive.
The Southern African Youth Project changes the way young people think about themselves through projects and programmes that give young people life skills. Typically a group of young people are enrolled in life skills and capacity building short courses and then they are linked to opportunities for employment or entrepreneurial openings through the SAYP.
The SAYP tries to put in place a support structure and basic systems that are able to help direct young people to start planning, learning useful basic skills, improving their education and learning how to make the most of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that are available to them. Since 2011 more than 1500 young people have received training and been introduced to employment opportunities through the Southern African Youth Project.
Neftaly is quietly adamant that what he wants to see is a generation able to take charge of their lives and their circumstances because they are prepared for what crosses their paths. SAYP runs a series of courses that cover, life skills training, training in wholesale, retail, hospitality and IT. All courses are certified and generally last for three months. In addition to courses which build professional skills participants are also introduced to life skills short courses. At the end of the three months, the SAYP attempts to match employers and employees.
The SAYP serves as a central node for employers who indicate their needs and the SAYP staff do the initial application and testing process for employers, who are then presented with viable options for fulfilment of their vacancy needs.
Neftaly practices what he preaches. He continues to work in ways that ensures that the SAYP is not dependent on a single donor and that part of its income needs are met through self-sustaining projects. His most recently established project is that of Zubuntu Bricks. Five men are employed on a lot in Diepsloot where they make bricks by hand using crushed sand, cement and water. Their goal is to move from their current sales of approximately 12 pallets of bricks to 30 pallets of bricks per day. Profits from this venture are ploughed into supporting the Southern Africa Youth Project.
Neftaly firmly believes that his role as CEO of SAYP is to ensure the young people whom come through the programmes are not reliant on other people for their futures but take ownership of their mistakes and their successes to build strong lives.