Exploring the Impact of a Social Youth Network in South Africa
Mutami C, Mullajie A, and Jaca, O 2019 M&E Unit
Contents Executive summary
Introduction 3 Youth Social Networks- Theoretical Positioning the ACTIVATE! Network
Methodological Considerations for the Study
ACTIVATE! Network as a Socio-Political Force
Strategy, Capacity and Targeting of Social-Political Services
Socio-Political Community Impact and Reach
Sustainability and Innovation of Social-Political Projects
Challenges and opportunities in Running Socio-Political Projects
The ACTIVATE! Network as an Economic Force
Business Strategies of the A! Network
Business Products and Services
Markets for Activator Business
Business Financing and Capital
Challenges and opportunities for Activator Business
Supporting the ACTIVATE! Network- The Role of ACTIVATE! Organisation
Communication and Support to A! Network
Supporting the Network Strategy
ACTIVATE! Programming- Effectiveness and Efficient
ACTIVATE! Programming-Relevance to the A! Network
Reaching Network Members â€“ Connections and Networking
Recommendations 38 Conclusion 39 References
Executive Summary This Report details the findings of a qualitative study which aimed at understanding the socio-economic and political impact of the ACTIVATE! Network in South African communities. The study utilised social Network theory to contextualise, frame and analyse the role members of the ACTIVATE! Network (Activators) are playing across all the provinces of South Africa. Using in-depth interviews with 111 Activators who were spread across the nine provinces, the study collected qualitative data which was thematically analysed. The study reveals a number of key impacts which the A! Network is having on South Africa.
The study reveals that respondents running campaigns and active citizenry initiatives have managed to improve local governance and transparency issues within their communities. The study, however, also revealed that most of the active citizenry work by Activators is done at an individual level, which limits its reach and effectiveness, particularly at provincial and national level. The study further reveals that Activators are running diversified businesses which are strategically anchored in addressing local community problems and issues. Although the majority of the respondents are sole traders, some Activators have managed to leverage family and social Networks for skills and capital. Funding, as always with small businesses in South Africa, was said to be the most debilitating challenge to business. It is, however, significant to note that there are a number of success stories of viable businesses which are fully supported by community members.
In terms of social force, Activators are running career and educational support programmes in their communities. Most of the social initiatives of Activators are targeting young people between 15 to 35 years of age, with a general local community target. The services offered by Activators in their communities reflect the general challenges communities in South Africa face, especially in rural areas where government services are not visible.
Overall, the study reveals that the A! Network has managed to positively impact South African communities, particularly at the local level. Continued support of Network activities in both socio-political and economic spheres would help in strengthening and sustaining these impacts. There is a continued role for the ACTIVATE! organisation to play, in terms of tailoring its programme content, organisational efficiency and guidance to the Network
Most of the social initiatives of Activators are targeting young people between 15 to 35 years of age, with a general local community target.
The study also reveals how integrated and spread Activator social programs are, reaching young people and offering them a positive outlook for the future. In a nutshell, the social initiatives of Activators are pulling young people out of risky behaviour and environments, which is a key objective of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme. Political campaigns are also evident in the study findings as more and more Activators are providing voices to usually marginalised communities.
Introduction The Report starts by positioning a theoretical framework for the ACTIVATE! Network, utilising social Network theory, its facets and broader application to the development sector. It further details the qualitative methodology, in-depth interviewing and methodological considerations which are essential in collecting and analysing the interview responses.
The Report further provides findings and discussions on socio-political and economic characteristics of the respondents.
The Report further provides findings and discussions on socio-political and economic characteristics of the respondents. Network sustainability and organisational support are further discussed. The Report ends by providing conclusions and recommendations for the future of A! Network and its impacts.
Youth Social Networks: Theoretical Positioning the ACTIVATE! Network The ACTIVATE! Network is based on the frame of social Networks and their impact on communities. Understanding the role that the ACTIVATE! Network is doing in South African communities would require a theoretical overview of the concept of social Networks, especially what they are capable to do or not do. Network theory has been found to be in resonance among many fields of enterprises, ranging from environmental, biological and financial services, but it is in social sectors that it has gained traction, especially in the development sector.
The concept of social Networks, and the impact they are likely to create, stems from three key concepts, which are centrality, cohesion, and structural equivalence (Rossler, 2017). “Centrality in social Networks is determined by degree, closeness, and betweenness” (ibid). These attributes are important to understand if a Network nodes (Activators) are close to each other to ensure some connections and benefits to be derived. Network cohesion measures the degree of interconnections among a group of nodes. Friedkin’s (1993) longitudinal study, among others, found that personal influence grows stronger within more cohesive social Networks than less cohesive ones.
The A! Network can be described as a social Network and can be theoretically understood by the social Network theory. Social Network theory views social relationships in terms of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individual actors within the Networks, and ties are the relationships between the actors. Members of the A! Network (herein referred to as Activators) are nodes who are interacting and connecting with others, resources and opportunities to influence change in their communities. There can be many kinds of ties between the nodes. In its most simple form, a social Network is a map of all of the relevant ties between the nodes being studied. The Network can also be used to determine the social capital of individual actors.
The concept of social Networks, and the impact they are likely to create, stems from three key concepts, which are centrality, cohesion, and structural equivalence.
Structural equivalence indicates two or more Network positions that share a similar pattern of connections with the rest of the Network. Actors that occupy structurally equivalent positions often have similar characteristics, such as social status or other individual traits. Because equivalent nodes are connected to a similar set of actors, they are more likely to receive similar information or social influence. In understanding the process of diffusion, Burt’s (1987) study found that innovations were more likely to flow via structural equivalence than direct ties, suggesting equivalence influence may be a stronger predictor of behavioural adoption than cohesive influence. The ACTIVATE! programme is deliberately designed to establish and nurture these key Network concepts to ensure that nodes are cohesive, central and have structural equivalence The key theoretical question on social Networks is, what makes them more effective than others, and can youth Networks be effective?
Social Network theory has been applied to several development efforts, but in the field of youth development, research has been scant. It is scarcely known how the concept of a youth- led social Network can be effective, independent and impactful in communities. This is due to the fact that young people do not have the same social capital as adults have, hence their ‘entitlements and endowments bundles’ (Sen, 1981) are fragile and vulnerable. Challenging this thinking and providing young people with these opportunities to flourish in social Networks is part of what the ACTIVATE! Network does.
The Local Government Association (UK) posits six characteristics of effective youth social Networks. Effective youth Networks are youth-led. Young peopleâ€™s voices are central to the provision offered to them. They can choose to attend a variety of services on a voluntary basis, building a sense of autonomy and trust in practitioners that encourages engagement with further work where needed. Further to this inclusivity, equality and diversity are at the core of effective youth social Networks. In case of ACTIVATE! Network, diversity in terms of race, location, gender and educational status is paramount. ACTIVATE! programming ensures that no young person feels marginalised or isolated as a result of disability, sexuality, nationality, socioeconomic status, special educational needs, mental health issues, religion or any other characteristic.
The fifth principle of effective Networks is empowerment of the youths themselves. Youth Networks should have services that empower young people to progress and engage in employment, education and training, and to take an active role in their local communities. Young people are listened to and can make positive, demonstrable changes to their communities, and understand how to engage with the democratic process. The ACTIVATE! Network members engage with each other and the broader communities through provocative and connect platforms which seek to echo their voices. These platforms, together with media opportunities which are continuously being provided to Activators, ensure that their voices are heard without censure. The sixth principle of effective Networks is positivity to the young people. Services are strengths-based and focus on developing the skills and attributes of young people, rather than attempting to â€˜fix a problemâ€™. Young people should not be seen as the problem but as a critical mass for driving positive change in communities. This is the underlying principle of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers.
The third principle of effective youth Networks is respect for each other and nodes. Young people are a valued and respected part of the community whose needs and wishes are considered equally with those of other groups. They are actively encouraged to participate in their communities and to enjoy opportunities in their local area without fear of judgement or negative stereotyping. These are values-based characteristics which the A! Network exhibits and upholds.
Young people are a valued and respected part of the community whose needs and wishes are considered equally with those of other groups.
The fourth principle of effective Networks is the delivery of quality, safe and well-being services by supporting organisations to the youth Network. Good quality services are provided by staff with appropriate safeguarding training, linked to a wider Network of support. Ideally, this includes professionally qualified youth workers with the skills, expertise and competencies to support safe, quality services with appropriate levels and types of intervention. The youth offer helps to keep young people safe and supports their mental, emotional and physical health, improves their social and economic well-being, and makes sure they can access education, non-formal learning and recreation. This basically dovetails with ACTIVATE! Change Drivers organisational approach, which centres on youth experts to transfer skills and knowledge to young participants.
Past research on youth Networks has not sufficiently dealt with the question of whether youth Networks are appropriate for public innovation which may create opportunities for others. There are a lot of youth Networks in Africa which are creating impact in environmental and business sectors but evidence of public innovation is scant. Perhaps this Report should fill in the gap by documenting evidence of public innovation in social Networks.
There is a consensus in the literature that young people hold the capability to be agents of community change (Brennan & Barnett, 2009; Ginwright & James, 2002; Pittman, 2000). Young people, being catalysts for social change, go beyond their passive presence in meetings or acting as the recipients for youth programs. To be change makers, youth require positions of influence so as to able to contribute to decision making. Impact is dependent on the quality of youth work. Thus, simply providing training and opportunities for young people is not an indicator of effectiveness on communities.
narrative of youth as victims or problems, which highlights deficiencies instead of the potential and value of young people. Thus, adults who see young people as change makers who play a vital role as change makers, as they see their role as not simply caring for them but also empowering them. Young people need to be active participants in grassroots level governance and policy implementation. Youthled media projects can also act as an innovative mechanism of progressive social change (Owens, La Rochelle, et al., 2011). “Youth voices should become a well-integrated component of public decision making throughout geographic regions….[it] can have a powerful and lasting impact not only for the youth participants, but for the entire community” (Owens, La Rochelle, et al., 2011).
Youth participation includes efforts by young people to plan programs of their own choosing; by adults to involve young people in their agencies; and by youth and adults to work together in intergenerational partnerships (Checkoway & Gutiérrez, 2006)
Campbell and Erbstein (2012) found that active youth shared the following key attributes: 1. They had developed meaningful relationships with adults within and beyond their youth programme. 2. They built capacity in public speaking and how to organise and lead meetings.
There are certain characteristics of effective youth development programmes. These include having commitment to youth development, programme managers having a clear theoretical framework, knowledge of literature, and organisationally defined values and assumptions; organisationally defined concepts aligned to theoretical framework; a comprehensive and coordinated implementation strategy; and encouraging participants to build skills such as critical thinking (Zimmerman-Oster, 2003).
3. They possessed a heightened sense of civic responsibility. 4. They had knowledge of local systems and policy change strategies. 5. They possessed greater self-confidence in dealing with peers and adults. 6. They were exposed to additional information around education and career opportunities. 7. They developed new connections with peers in their own as well as in other communities, including those from a different socioeconomic or racial background.
Sanders, Munford & Lindberg (2017) found that there is a relationship between delivery respecting and empowering services and opportunities to youth and the ability of youth to do well. They argue that youth development practices play a key role in community development and that attention must be paid to risk influence and building the resilience of young people.
It is important that youth development programmes are strategic in their efforts to collaborate with youth to drive change, by prioritising areas of community transformation, and time and resources are required to build relationships and knowledge. ACTIVATE! sees South African youth as Change Drivers and is dedicated to equipping, connecting, inspiring, and provoking young people to be influential members of society.
When looking at youth as a resource for social change, it is essential to remove the youth as victim’s narrative. Young people may accept the
A key question to grapple with is, are social youth Networks sustainable? Sustainable Networks have a clear Network identity and purpose and are managed efficiently in accordance with the Network strategy. Having a core mission and values which are understood by all members within the Network is essential. Governance structures and strong partnerships are necessary for sustainability. The youth Network, its partners, and the youth which it serves should have a level of trust and respect for one another. This allows for confidence of each partner in their abilities and intentions. Further, there should be transparency around key decision making within the organisation.
influx of new ideas and knowledge but can also result in a loss of existing skills and knowledge. This is often coupled with a high mobility of participants/beneficiaries from youth-focused organisations as they find themselves in a life stage of uncertainty in terms of studying or finding employment. This makes it important to plan for ongoing recruitment which enables a sustainable influx of youth into the programme. There should also be ongoing orientation for both staff and youth members and having two-way learning opportunities can be beneficial. Youth as not only mentees but also mentors results in further buy-in from its constituencies. This can increase Networks and expertise. Further, the focus should not only be on individual skill development, but also capacity building for the institution and the community it serves. Thus, culture change occurs in institutions that develop leaders for social change.
Having a clear mission and strategic plan can benefit the overall effectiveness and impact of the organisation. Process, outcome, and impact objectives are clearly stated and measurable. Having a definable impact is essential in establishing value and sustainability. Capacity should be built in key areas which align to organisational goals/ objectives. Developing effective policies to support programmes which are grounded in best practice is also important.
There should also be ongoing orientation for both staff and youth members and having two-way learning opportunities can be beneficial.
Having a clear mission and strategic plan can benefit the overall effectiveness and impact of the organisation.
Gaps of knowledge can act as a hindrance for sustainability. While youth organisations might train a high number of young people, the leadership opportunities they present might only be available for a select few, which can result in the development of gaps of knowledge within the youth Network. There is often not an equal opportunity to skills development and connections. Further, having the same group of youth visible in different spaces means that diversity in opinion is lost, which can result in young people being misrepresented and oversimplified.
Sustainable Networks have a clearly stated evaluation plan, which includes ongoing dissemination of program results to all stakeholders. Evaluation results are used to revise and strengthen the program. It is also essential that the program’s original design ensures institutional impact and sustainability - having a strategic vision which accounts for sustainability and plans for the loss of key resources.
It is also important to motivate for the feedback of youth representation to be incorporated into the planning and review process within youth organisations. Deane, Harre, Moore & Courtney (2017) highlight that having a diverse group of youth and not just ‘those in need’ can be beneficial in that more confident youth can have a positive
Youth-focused organisations often have to deal with their beneficiaries’ transition out of the organisation when they reach a certain age. This is also known as ‘aging out’. This results in constant
influence on their peers. This is especially paramount when dealing with issues that directly affect young people. Thus, it becomes important to have nomination processes that maximise access to opportunities for as many youth as possible. Introducing alerts, having an up to date database of member information and contact details can broaden the reach of opportunities. Having fellow youth members choose, or ensuring that a more experienced and newer member is chosen which allows for knowledge to be shared, are strategies for inclusion.
into the organisations work by staffing and board membership, among other opportunities. Having a set budget and policies/guidelines around the compensation will be beneficial. The level of detail for the policy is key to mitigate issues around consistency.
Young people need to be recognised as partners and need to feel that their contribution is respected and necessary.
Valuing and celebrating the work of young people is essential within youth organisations. This goes beyond just seeing young people as volunteers and providing monetary remuneration for them, as they tend to look for other employment which can also result in a loss of skills/knowledge. Young people need to be recognised as partners and need to feel that their contribution is respected and necessary. Young people can be incorporated
This also means that having core funding is essential for youth-led organisations and Networks. This can lead to a reduction in turnover in staff and youth participants. Having a diverse group of funders can also improve security/sustainability as it reduces sole dependence on only one source. It is also important that funding is long term â€“implementing and evaluating the effects of youth programmes
require time. Thus longer term funding can facilitate a strategic and sustainable programme. Also, having strong partnerships with other youth organisations can be beneficial when resources or capacity is limited.
their individual characteristics and circumstances” (Sanders, Munford & Lindberg, 2017).
The development of relationships between youth development workers and youth plays a significant role in positive development and achieving organisational outcomes.
Finally, Cho and Chan (2013) highlight the importance of trust within sustainable Networks, as it is a key enabler of collaboration within Networks. Trust is closely linked to individuals’ motivations and beliefs. “Optimal Network structures may exist to promote reciprocating behaviour to foster trust relationships among entities and build a system level atmosphere of trust” (Cho & Chan, 2013.) Further, the development of relationships between youth development workers and youth plays a significant role in positive development and achieving organisational outcomes. “[W]hen professionals form positive relationships, encourage active client involvement, and demonstrate respect for the individual, family and culture, good outcomes can be achieved for youth irrespective of
Respectful relationships provide a safe and trusting context in which youth are able to voice their experiences and needs, knowing that what they say will be heard and taken seriously. Empowering relationships ensure that youth feel they have a part to play in the decisions made about their lives, and are able to develop additional resources and skills to manage their lives outside of the service setting (Bastiaanssen, Deslingm, Kroes, Engels, & Veerman, 2014).
Methodological Considerations for the Study The purpose of the 2nd tier impact study is to collect in depth data on the impact of the ACTIVATE! Network to communities in South Africa. It is a continuation of the first tier impact study, the annual YouCount survey which analyses the social, political and economic impact of the ACTIVATE! Network. The objective of the 2nd Tier impact study is to firstly assess the nature of the programmes that Activators are running in their communities since 2012 and secondly, review the quantity and quality of the impact of Activators work towards their communities.
A purposive sample was chosen from the list of Activators who completed the YouCount survey. Purposive or judgement sampling selects the sample based on program staffs judgement as well as the purpose of the study; “one wants to discover, understand, gain insight; therefore one needs to select a sample from which one can learn the most” (Merriam, 1998). The cases were specifically selected by the M&E unit to provide insight into Activators whom are running their own NGO’s, businesses and campaigns. A total of 111 Activators were selected, with discretion used to be representative of province, gender, and focus area.
The 2nd tier evaluation makes use of a qualitative method of analysis. This methodology has been chosen based on the criteria needed for answering the evaluation questions as well as program context and participants. Qualitative research allows for a deeper understanding of a phenomena, and provides rich descriptions through the collection of personal interpretations.
A total of 111 Activators were selected, with discretion used to be representative of province, gender, and focus area.
The study made use of in-depth interviews and followed a structured interview guide with open ended questions and allowed for probing. Three interview guides were developed for business owners, Activators running NGO’s or Campaigns, and beneficiaries from Activator run campaigns or NGO’s. Fieldworkers had to ask the same set of questions in the specified order and were given training on how to probe accordingly to gain further insight into key areas of interest. Interviews were recorded with audio recorders and were closing monitored by team leaders and appropriate feedback was given in order to reduce bias.
The purpose of qualitative research is to understand the social reality of individuals, groups and cultures as nearly as participants live it, thus people and groups, are studied in their natural setting. (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994) The merits of this methodology is that it searches for findings that shows the depth and detail of the work that Activators have been doing in their communities. It goes beyond analysing ranks and counts, by recording attitudes, behaviours and creates openness which encourages the Activators to expand on their responses thus opening up to new topic areas not initially considered. As the second tier to the YouCount study, this study also allows for the possibility of triangulation. Triangulation allows one to identify aspects of a phenomenon more accurately by approaching it from different vantage points using different methods and techniques.
The fieldworkers were divided into two groups, cluster 1 conducted interviews in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Northern Cape. Cluster 2 conducted interviews in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the FreeState. The scheduling of the interviews was based on the number of selected Activators in each province.
There was a total of 11 fieldworkers, each fieldworker scheduled between 3 to 4 interviews per day depending on the time availability of the Activators and Activator beneficiaries.
Fieldworkers had to ask the same set of questions in the specified order and were given training on how to probe accordingly to gain further insight into key areas of interest.
The data was then transcribed and analysed by themes. According to Braun and Clark (2006) thematic analysis allows for flexibility in the researchers choice of theoretical framework. Some other methods of analysis are closely tied up to specific theories but thematic analysis can be used with any theory the researcher chooses to use. Through this flexibility thematic analysis allows for rich detailed and complex description of your data.
ACTIVATE! Network as a Socio-Political Force Organisational strategy is paramount in providing sound social services in local communities. One respondent in Ndunda, Neilspruit, has utilised a shared vision strategy with other 4 Activators in offering career guidance to local youths, assisting in submitting applications to colleges and universities and tutoring examination classes. This group of Activators heavily relies on close relations with community members who have assisted them in lobbying for government support. To date the Department of Social Development has financially supported them and established a centre for these services, with physical infrastructure. What is clear from the study is, Activators who collaborate with others appear to harness collective resources and improve their reach and impact.
Strategy, Capacity and Targeting of Social-Political Services One of the greatest services to South Africa by the A! Network is in the provision social services to South African communities. This impact study revealed that the majority of Activators who responded to this study are engaged in a wide range of services. This is a reflection of the core ethos of ACTIVATE!, which seeks to transform communities through positive change championed by young people. Community change in South Africa is inherently social change due to the challenges in democratic South Africa. The study reveals that respondents providing social services are mainly in educational services such as secondary education support, after school coaching and career guidance. In terms of the target of respondentsâ€™ initiatives which are mainly through unregistered non-profit organisation (NPOs), most respondents are focussing on young people between the ages of 15 to 35 years. One respondent in Gauteng Province who is working with Tswane Municipality is targeting young people below the age of 30, who are addicted to drug and substance abuse. This programme which provides psychological support and life skills to young addicts has a beneficiary who has been successfully rehabilitated and has started a construction company which has employed over 30 other young people. Although respondentsâ€™ targets would differ in terms of current occupations of beneficiaries, such as school pupils or school leavers, the majority of the targets seem to be local communities, with very few reaching district and provincial level. This is, however, beneficial to ACTIVATE! Organisation as multiple points of intervention are created throughout the country, which reach beneficiaries who struggle to access services.
In terms of strategy effectiveness, most respondents appear to replicate career guidance, coaching and mentoring across provinces, despite certain social needs in their communities. While this may be beneficial in the long run when young people in communities become professionals, there are other community challenges which may be immediate and severe. This may require elaborate intervention mechanisms to address and much more resources which are out of the reach of most Activators. In terms of funding, the study findings were mixed depending on locality. In Western Cape and Mpumalanga there are respondents who received provincial government funding, particularly from the Department of Social Development. However, funding seems to be short-term and of small amounts, limiting the ability of the Activators to craft long term projects or initiatives. One critical issue has been the lack of registration of most of the respondentsâ€™ organisations, making it difficult to source funding from large corporates. In some instances funding for social projects for Activators has been from municipalities in the localities of Activators.
Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) revealed that South Africans found key priority areas to be unemployment (78%), crime and safety (46%), service delivery (25%) and poverty (25%). NGOs have played a role throughout the country’s history in addressing these issues and continue to hold a vital position within society, contributing to the economic and social well-being of South Africans (Statistics South Africa, 2017).
The majority of respondents across all the provinces are relying on personal finances to roll out their programmes. Most of the respondents feel that they lack information on funding of social projects and the processes seem cumbersome and long. The commitment of these respondents to reach to their communities is worth mentioning. The capacity of Activators to run social projects depends on the size of the project, its complexity and the skills cohort of respondents. The majority of the respondents appear to run their organisations and initiatives alone, and in some few instances with the assistance of friends and relatives. This has been effective in reducing operating costs, especially for salaries and wages for personnel, but may limit future growth of services and organisations. Some respondents rely on the capacity of other Activators, in terms of skills and resources which have allowed them to broaden their reach and impact around the communities they work in.
The data revealed that Activators are effecting change within their communities to varying degrees by providing key services in poorly resourced areas. This impact is primarily community-based. Even where Activators are studying or working in other provinces they are continuing their in their local communities. A respondent who is a 2012 Activator runs a programme which focuses on HIV testing in the Northern Cape. His organisation does testing for 3000 to 5000 people per year and also follows up on those who have tested positive and ensures they receive medication and see the doctor for blood pressure testing and other issues. There is also an Activator in Limpopo who is trying to eradicate malaria.
Socio-Political Community Impact and Reach The projects and campaigns of Activators are positively impacting communities across the country. The 2018 YouCount report revealed that 23% of Activators are running their own NGOs and 38% are running their own campaigns. These Activators are involved in a number of sectors and deal with pertinent issues such as HIV testing, Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology (STEM) and providing platforms for artistic expression. The analysis has revealed that Activators are creating change within their communities, the extent of which is varied and will be discussed further, along with the key factors influencing their reach, impact and sustainability.
The data revealed that Activators are effecting change within their communities to varying degrees by providing key services in poorly resourced areas.
He is working with the Department of Health and provides testing for around 3000 people every month. “It does really benefit the people because Limpopo was suffering a lot in terms of malaria and a lot of people died before but now I think there are no longer deaths from malaria because we were educating people, we are doing the campaigns, putting the tents all over and educating people so anyone now knows if they have a headache, feel dizzy, they should get tested as soon as possible.” (Respondent, 2019)
South Africa faces many disparities due to its oppressive history which has been further exacerbated by income inequality, unemployment, poor service delivery and a failing education system. This has resulted in high structural inequality within the country. While the South African government has made some strides in alleviating this inequality, social disparity remains rife. The
As stated, these organisations primarily target disenfranchised groups and low resourced communities. A Western Cape Activator explains why her organisation works with disadvantaged schools. “We choose them because of the past, you know how schools in our locations have been previously disadvantaged, then in the classroom you have too many learners and the teachers can’t help them all, so the problem is that in grade 8 in one classroom we have 51 learners, which is a problem, so we take maybe 45 learners and have 5 tutors, so our program compared to a school setting is much better ratio of tutors to learners.” An Eastern Cape Activator who provides sanitary towels to young girls in her community highlights the challenges these young women face in rural areas: “I have grown up in a deep rural area and our parents they don’t give us proper information about anything concerning menstruation, so you get it from a friend and some of the friends are feeding us false information…[c]an you imagine you go to town then buy a packet of sanitary pads for R15 and in a local shop it’s R30 and the taxi fare to Mtatha is R140 with return” (Respondent, 2019).
While Activators are targeting a diverse group of people via their programmes, the majority are focusing on young people. A respondent from the Eastern Cape reaches 50 young people (1535) annually and assists the with tertiary and bursary applications and has played a key role in young people accessing higher education in her community. Youth who run programmes which target those within their age range or slightly younger are proven to be impactful, specifically in programmes aimed at preventing HIV (UNICEF Best Practice Collection, 1999). The effectiveness of this lies in the ability of young people to influence the opinions and behaviours of their peers. These Activators hold the advantage of being able to build rapport and can often act as role models.
The effectiveness of this lies in the ability of young people to influence the opinions and behaviours of their peers. These Activators hold the advantage of being able to build rapport and can often act as role models.
Another Activator from Mpumalanga is also fulfilling a key need in his community by teaching computer literacy. One beneficiary of his programme explains that “this program is very fruitful like students from my village who are in universities they benefited from this program, they did not know how to use a computer, now they know how to use word, excel, PowerPoint and even to access information from the internet”. An Activator with
A beneficiary of a KZN Activator’s programme which equips youth with branding and website design skills believes that “With the Activators programme you can see that people start to see the world with a different eye you know like uh the current course that we are doing which is the plumbing, you can see that people are responding
a programme focused on agriculture, which assists his community in subsistence farming, believes that unemployed youth in the community will gain valuable skills and eventually be self-sufficient and with time be able to also sell surplus crops. “The program is benefiting this community in such a way that there will never be a household where you find children going to bed an empty stomach. It is going to challenge their parents to go and work on land. So you will find that there is no individual who owns that land but it is owned by the community” (Respondent, 2019)
very positively even though the plumbing looks like a carrier that can be taken by men there are many female and it’s kinda exciting and the other thing is this makes the women to be involved in such kind of a career so it is another eye opening as well” (Respondent, 2019). The above examples have showcased significant change Activators are making through their programmes, not only in terms of reach but even more so in addressing crucial issues in vulnerable communities.
alcohol and drug abuse. A respondent from KZN explains: “I am so enthusiastic when it comes to community coz I live in a community full of social problems …… so everyday seeing those things just trickles the emotions within me to take part to make any means that could help or better the community that I come from”.
Discussions with the beneficiaries of these programmes have substantiated their perceived impact. While reach of these programmes are varied with some targeting 30 beneficiaries and others reaching over 5000 beneficiaries a year, the majority of these programmes do have constant engagement with their beneficiaries, which assists in building stronger relationships and increasing the likelihood of making a significant change. It should also be noted that there were a handful of Activators who, when interviewed it became apparent that they were working for an NGO and not necessarily running their own NGO as indicated in the YouCount survey. This is important to note when used as a method of triangulation to review the validity of the YouCount data.
The willingness of some Activators to go beyond the actions of the ‘average young South African’ appears to be driven by the social ills they encounter around them.
Another Respondent from the Free State runs a female empowerment programme for STEM
Sustainability and Innovation of Social-Political Projects
subjects, also highlights the fulfilment that the effects of he’s programme gives him. “The girls that we work with, they come from poverty, they come from disadvantaged backgrounds…[so] for me just being there and making an impact and seeing them going places up ladder is really making me realise I can make a difference and gives me the greatest joy” (Respondent, 2019)
Reviewing the data further revealed that the impact of Activator projects is primarily affected by their individual passion for community development, having a clear vision or goal, access to funding and partners, community support, individual experience and expertise and the current socio economic climate.
The primary obstacle Activators mentioned as impeding their impact is a lack of, or no funding. The literature around sustainable NGO’s highlights the importance of having long term funding, specifically a diverse group of funders which can lead to improved security and sustainability. The 2018 YouCount report revealed that the primary sources of funding for NGO’s are local donations (34%), social entrepreneurship (14%), government subsidy (12%), and membership subscriptions (11%). This does somewhat mirror the South African landscape where NGOs are primarily funded by government subsidies, local donations, service income and membership subscriptions (StatsSA, 2017).
Activators are driven by a passion for community change, giving them a sense of purpose and often solidifying them as community leaders and role models. The data provides instances if Activators making use of personal funds to sustain projects as well as sacrificing personal time, working weekends and late hours to deliver services. A Respondent in Northern Cape has a project focused on career guidance and is reaching around 200 young people in the Northern Cape. When discussing the funding of his project, he explains that “currently we are taking from our own pockets” (Respondent, 2019) The willingness of some Activators to go beyond the actions of the ‘average young South African’ appears to be driven by the social ills they encounter around them. They want to be good examples to youth in their communities, with some setting out to create hubs where young people can keep busy and be less inclined to get involved with crime and
While there are a handful of Activators who have strong partnerships and have been receiving funding for a number of years, such as a respondent from Western Cape who has been leading he’s
organisation for 8 years developing performing arts skills in young people and is being funding from an agency for Arts and Culture, the majority of those interviewed feel that they are operating with insufficient funds. Further, it should also be noted that out of the few Activators who have secured funding, there are some who still feel that it is an issue as they are uncertain whether they will still have funding, going forward. For example, a respondent from Gauteng is running a programme focused on poetry and is funded by the Tshwane Municipality. While he has secured funding, he is concerned about what would happen should political power shift. “You know the political landscape of this country is funny since ANC is under maladministration, funds are being abused so we thought that DA was going to be of the idea that this was just another idea of ANC of spending money. But well we are relieved they did not take it that way. We will see what happens next” (Respondent, 2019)
for their projects. There seems to be little focus on social entrepreneurship within NGO’s. Having strong and relevant partnerships can assist when resources and capacity is limited. The stakeholders these Activators have are varied. Some have connections and partnerships with government structures. There are also Activators who are being well supported by their community. They have managed to make a positive impact and the community is willing to also support them financially. These Activators are inspired and feel sense of duty towards their community, “10 people will turn the village around. It is very possible most people are not willing to work for free” (Respondent, 2019). Perseverance, self-determination, and selfbelief are key factors which they believe have assisted them. Thus, there has been a form of trust building between these Activators and the communities. Building trust is a key action of building sustainable Networks. A respondent from Gauteng feels that one of the key impacts of his programme which tackles unemployment has been that through time, he has been able to gain the support of community leaders and church leaders whom he once deemed his enemies and are now his key partners.
While the majority of Activators do have some form of funding, there are a handful who are running NGOs completely out of their own pockets. An Activator from the Free State is making and selling sauces to fund his intervention and explains that “we have been asking for funding from different organisations. There is also a problem of support. Most people don’t see the direction of this N.G.O they do see the fulfilment, the idea that we have but with the support we get from other people we are willing to grow and we so much appreciate. We are also willing to get more investors aboard so that the organisation can be up and running for
While the majority of Activators do have some form of funding, there are a handful who are running NGOs completely out of their own pockets.
us to be able to change the world” (Respondent, 2019). Some Activators, specifically from more rural areas, are wary of turning to government subsidies as they feel that they will only receive funding if they join the party in power.
There are also some Activators who are receiving little support from their communities, and those who feel that the members within their organisation are not committed. Some Activators feel disheartened by the lack of support they receive from their communities. However, they continue to persevere. “It would be easy to leave the community like that uh we stay in but instead we are sacrificing our entire lives and giving back to people who are still bashing us in our faces but for us honestly those people we don’t even because for us it’s about the people that actually benefit or that” (Respondent, 2019).
There has been some innovation around addressing the lack of funds, for example, there are Activators who are also providing services such as computer literacy classes to paying clients alongside the same intervention targeted at their beneficiaries. The majority, however, have not found sustainable ways to support their programmes. Some Activators have even requested that ACTIVATE! provide funding
Activators also have to face community ills such as high crime rates. An Activator running a community skills programme suffered theft when many computers were stolen from his lab and this meant he had to stop running his programme.
on a number of factors such as experience, capacity, funding and stakeholders. However, the characteristic evident with all those interviewed is their deep seeded passion for community development which continues to drive them even when they lack key resources and support. There is room to develop clear strategies and mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation, which would aid them in their search for funding. Further, developing innovative strategies to become self-sustainable should be the ultimate goal.
Finally, the data revealed that many Activators lack the ability to articulate their goal and impact, which can also negatively affect their sustainability and projected programmatic effects. Some Activators have an idea of what they want to achieve. However, they have not yet thoroughly thrashed it. This not mean, however, that they are not affecting change in their communities, but it does decelerate said change. This was made more evident when post interview, Activators were given a series of tools which included a logic model, theory of change and projected impact analysis tools.
Challenges and Opportunities in Running Socio-Political Projects South Africa is a country characterised by high levels of unemployment, economic exclusion and inequality. The youth are mostly affected by these issues, mainly because some are graduates with qualifications and skills, but do not get the opportunities to use the skills and qualifications in order to gain the work experience they need. As a result, many people have started running community service programmes. The Activators are a part of these young people in South Africa, running community service programmes, nonprofit organisations and businesses.
Most of these Activators struggled with these tools and admitted that this is not something they have done before. Further, analysis of the data also revealed that some Activators are trying to address multiple challenges within their communities and are running multiple interventions at the same time, which can be counterintuitive given the lack of resources available to them. Research has shown that the lack of a clear theoretical framework and implementation strategy can hinder programme effectiveness and efficiency. The lack of a clear logical framework often makes programme evaluation impossible. Thus, there is very little internal data collection and impact analysis occurring in Activator run NGOs. This would also be an added challenge in securing funding.
It has not been easy to run the programmes because they are faced with a number of challenges, the main one being funding. Activators from all over the country lack funding. The majority of them are self-funding their programmes, which can be quite strenuous because of having to undertake other responsibilities, most notable being family responsibility. Although some are getting support and funding from institutions and stakeholders, it not consistent, so their programmes are not always stable. This can be a barrier to making constant impact in their communities “You know when you talk about funding, you give me headache. In South Africa, being part of civil society at large, it’s tough and you looked down at. You are being overlooked by government. You will not easily get funding so… and I’ve also been engaging with, you know, funding agencies you know for us to get funds. I’m not sure
Research has shown that the lack of a clear theoretical framework and implementation strategy can hinder programme effectiveness and efficiency.
Activators are making a significant impact in their communities and are key role players in much needed services, specifically in rural communities. The extent of this impact is varied and depends
Activators also run their programmes because they see a chance to make a positive change in their communities by giving back. It also gives them the opportunity to grow as individuals, even though they may not be getting a stipend for running these programmes.
if I can mention them, you know, those funding agencies. But to no avail. You know, we were so much hopeful because they are the ones who contacted us to say come on guys, we’ve heard of your work, apply for funding. And we thought we would get funding from them. So perhaps I think it’s… the shortfall is from our side where we are not able to put together, you know, a moving proposal of their standard for them to fund us. So in a sense we’ve been self-funding ourselves, as I just told you we use our own cars, we use our own time, we use our own money” (Respondent, 2019). One of the most significant challenges is receiving minimum support from community members which limits Activators from reaching their targets. However, with every challenge come opportunities. Activators who often feel overwhelmed by not being able to access funding get the opportunities to use the ACTIVATE! Innovation tools.
One of the most significant challenges is receiving minimum support from community members which limits Activators from reaching their targets.
A lot of them acquire new problem solving skills in using the tools, “Interviewee: yes the washline method it taught me to be punctual to prepared and to be on time So for me where I am involved mostly now in Mafini Primary School, if I am called today that tomorrow there is a meeting I am always prepared earlier but if I am told earlier I don’t miss it so I know that for also Masakhane that they have planned their meetings now, I always advise them to always be ahead to always prepare, if for instance they are going to ask for money from the board I always tell them to not ask for the exact amount because you never know what emergency could come because - sometimes you don’t need the money but it is, because they are signing for cheques to go and get the money” (Respondent, 2019).
The ACTIVATE! Network as an Economic Force A respondent from Soweto, operating his business at Maponya Mall, sells healthy fast food whereby his main dish is boerewors rolls. Of course he is not the only one supplying boerewors around Maponya Mall, but what makes his product different is that it was developed during an engagement with an Activator that uses organic material for his organic business to get a rich market for those who want organic and healthy food. He says, “…… our rolls are made out of organics and herbs, so it is not just flour, but flour with herbs and boerewors that are handmade not bought” (Respondent, 2019). His customers flock there because they prefer and enjoy his healthy products in a world where almost everyone is striving to live and eat healthy. This is a good example of innovation displayed by this Activator and with his strategy.
Business Strategies of the A! Network In terms of economic force, this study looks at Activators who are running businesses across South Africa. The central theme of effective businesses is strategy. Business strategy ensures the survival of companies or business ventures. If a strategy is innovative and meets the needs of the communities, then it becomes a dominant strategy within that community. A business strategy can be defined as a deliberate plan that helps a business to achieve a long term vision and mission by drafting a business model to execute that business strategy. This section will describe and discuss the different business strategies that Activators have used, are making use of as well as intended strategies to be implemented in future. Activators appear to have diversified strategies in terms of running their own businesses. A dominant strategy for an Activator, while running a business, is particularly within that culture that surrounds them but this also should be understood in the context that some Activators still feel that they may not conform to this thinking about their businesses. A respondent from the Gauteng Province, who is in the business of promoting events, is using the engagement of popular persons as his strategy to be well-known and be on the spotlight. He also works with the local municipality and that gives him a better market with better returns.
His customers flock there because they prefer and enjoy his healthy products in a world where almost everyone is striving to live and eat healthy.
Some Activators discovered a need in the communities they live in and decided to use that opportunity to start a business addressing the needs of community members that were never looked at. Another respondent from the Gauteng province saw a gap in taverns, whereby he realized that people went to taverns just to drink beer and socialize. He decided to introduce a programme that aims at developing healthy habits among regular tavern goers. An academy for sporting activities was invented, whereby tavern members engage in soccer and athletics. This has received a positive response from the community members and his academy is doing very well.
One respondent posits “…I have worked with Lady D who has worked with DJ Maphorisa, I have worked with Isaac Gumbu who is now on a number of shows and movies so that’s where I make money….. that’s where I make my living.” The respondent has had high turnovers ranging from R5000 – R35 000 a month, depending on the season. He also shares his ideas with people who share the same interest and vision with him and, in return, he receives useful information on how he can improve certain areas in his business.
On the other hand, it is of interest to note that having a good strategy and executing the strategy well does not guarantee success. A respondent from 20
programmes and life skills training for pupils in grades 10 to 12. His services are reportedly bringing a positive change in his community, as most students are now passing their matric because of the assistance that he is providing. His main aim is to see and have the Eastern Cape on top of other provinces, academically. The community he is living and offering services in is responding well to his services. Another respondent from the Northern Cape is offering soft skills training, whereby his aim is to be able to have everyone around him computer literate. The respondent has not set up or started a formal business yet due to lack of funds. However, in the meantime he fixes computers and other technical gadgets from home. He hopes that in the near future he will be able to fulfill his dream.
the Northern Cape is in the business of buying and selling diamonds. He seems to have strategized his business plans but there are several external factors that are hindering the viability of his business. Business strategy ensures the viability of business and if the business will stand the test of time and challenges which are imposed. The respondentâ€™s business strategy seems not to be giving him good outputs because of several reasons that include, his business not being formally registered, lack of adequate funds to buy the product and the challenges that come with the product itself. He intends to register his business in the long run but he is quite skeptical about it, as he feels that the local people do not understand that kind of business, hence embracing it and supporting it becomes a challenge.
Business Products and Services
Another respondent from the Northern Cape is offering soft skills training, whereby his aim is to be able to have everyone around him computer literate.
Part of business viability includes products and services. At one point every product is new and most of them follow a fairly predictable part of acceptance, demand and eventual disinterest from consumers. Most businesses that are run by Activators from different provinces are at the introduction phase of the life cycle. Products need to resonate with customers and they do not have to be far ahead of the market. A respondent from Limpopo, is into the supply of stationery and medical equipment. These products are on demand in the market in his community because they are necessities. Different entities are buying these products, hence his products are on the growth phase. The products supplied by him are competitive on the market because it is not everyone who can supply medical equipment because they need a lot of capital to begin with. Moreover, they are not generic products that one can find anywhere. One requires to be licensed in order to be able to buy and supply such products. The above products have not reached the maturity stage.
Most products and services provided by Activators are still on the growth stage. A great product or service should be solving an urgent and burning problem faced by many people. Ideally, it is able to do so with a low cost structure, while still delivering and capturing a lot of value. The above description does not tally with most businesses that are run by Activators across South Africa.
Markets for Activator Business Successful marketing strategies depend on a clear understanding of market characteristics. Activators are participating in diversified and multiple markets. They are supplying goods and services in different markets across South Africa. It is of interest to note that most of these markets are location-based where the consumers or beneficiaries are people who are living in the same community with the Activator running a certain business. A respondent from the Western Cape, who is in the business of computer repairs and software training, depends on local people as his customers. He mentions that his business is marketed through word of mouth
Most Activators across South Africa engage more on service provision, whereby the Activators are trading skills and knowledge for some form of compensation. A respondent from the Eastern Cape is in the education business, tutoring Mathematics and Science and offering teacher development
Small scale businesses were operated either individually or in a partnership of two, while large scale businesses were operated by an average of two to seven individuals. For instance, a respondent in Western Cape established his business on his own first, then employed more people. As he argued, “…it’s only when I established the business by myself, I decided to bring in extra skill and people who would be able to do some of the things I cannot do, things like marketing, advertising, financial reporting, you know? Who can do things better than me” (Respondent, 2019). He further remarked, “We are running as a team of seven” (Respondent, 2019).
and interaction with different people, whereby one person refers the other to him in most cases, for repairs. However, he is not yet established because he is working from his place of residence, he does not have a formal office where he can operate from and besides the referral strategy, he does not have any other marketing strategies that he has put in place. As a result, he is facing a lot of challenges in his bid to try and develop his business plan. Most businesses fail because they do not have the market. Some products provided by the small business are not able to penetrate into the high value market or high return market. In some cases there is no market for some businesses. A respondent from Northern Cape is in the business of buying and selling diamonds and fuel. His line of business is somehow illegitimate and makes it difficult for him to penetrate into the market at local level. This hinders growth and establishment of his business.
Throughout the research, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers main aim was to understand what impacts these businesses have contributed back in their communities since their establishment.
Business Financing and Capital A Business is an organization that is founded with an intention of solving social problems, with the aim of making profit. After the programme, the majority of Activators became motivated to start up their own businesses. Even though their aim was to make profit, these businesses contributed a lot to their communities. Throughout the research, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers main aim was to understand what impacts these businesses have contributed back in their communities since their establishment. Moreover, the aim was to gain insight into what type of business Activators are running, how their businesses are being funded, what challenges they face, and the viability and capacity of their businesses.
Furthermore, respondents who were interviewed remarked that their employees or business partners are either friends or/and family members. Additionally, with the help and persuasion from their employers, most of the employees within these businesses had eventually joined the ACTIVATE! Change Driver programme, hence they became part of the ACTIVATE! Network. In fact, the respondents argued that the programme enabled their employees be of same level of vision, skills, and knowledge as them. Hence, this enabled their businesses viability and success. There are several resources every successful entrepreneur must have in order for their business to prosper. However, the essential resource for any business to prosper is finance. In order for any business to succeed, it needs to be able to sustain itself financially. Yet, this has been the biggest challenge faced by the majority of the respondents. Both the small-scale and large-scale businesses faced this challenge. Respondents posit that even though their sale turnover was high, that did not mean that their businesses were prospering. This is because their sale turnover fluctuates with sessions.
Throughout the series of interviews, the data collected showed that the Activators managed to gain capital through savings. They saved from various sources, including from their current or previous employment, loans, sponsorship, and funding from various organizations, private businesses and individuals. Most of these businesses (service- or and goods-oriented) have been established and operated with honest, hardworking, team players of two to seven individuals.
Respondents claimed that there were days when their businesses were doing well, for instance, one respondent who conducted a landscaping business claimed that he obtains a sales turnover of R20 000 in a good month. However, the turnover decreased in bad months in which the country’s economy also deteriorated. Hence, people had less money to use or acquire services such as landscaping. A similar argument was made by a respondent who ran a Software/website design, who claimed that his business only generated a sales turnover of R10 000 when business was bad. However, in a good month his business generated a sale turnover higher than R10 000 per month.
Despite the big sales turnover, the majority of the respondents observed that it was not enough. The reason they gave was that, in the long run, they desired to expand their businesses.
For instance, even though a respondent in Mpumalanga made a sales turnover of R300 000 and received R250 000 as funds from NYDA, he stated that “So far so good but in terms of the funding we need more funding in order to expand our enterprises and in order to employ more people and improve our quality because we wish to have our own branding to supply to the biggest corporate supermarket such as Woolworths and Spar” (Respondent, 2019). Additionally, the respondent commented that “As young people every day we are facing different challenges, hence the money we generate gets used to solve those challenges” (Respondent, 2019). This shows that there will never be an amount that will be regarded truly sufficient for a business. Moreover, this shows these respondents are striving for bigger things.
In addition, another respondent who operates a stationery supplier business claimed that her business sales turnover fluctuated from time to time. There are months when she produced a turnover either lower or higher than R15 000. This is in contrast with a photography and multimedia management company that produced a sales turnover of a minimum R30 000, while in a good month the business managed to generate a sales turnover maximum of R60 000 per month. Yet again, a respondent running a farming and agriculture consultation company argued that the business generated a sales overturn of R300 000 last month. However, there were some months when business was bad and the company made a sales turnover of less than R10 000.
Similarly, another respondent revealed that, “I have a tight budget and most of the money I generate goes to family. Therefore, I end up having insufficient money to reinvest back to my business” (Respondent, 2019). For some business owners the costs of production was higher than the profit they generated. For instance, when the
Despite the big sales turnover, the majority of the respondents observed that it was not enough. The reason they gave was that, in the long run, they desired to expand their businesses. Some had already started to plan ahead. They applied for twice as much funds and stakeholders than what they have already got. As a result, this would widen their market targets from provincial to domestic and eventually to international. Furthermore, as the businesses expand, a number of the respondents stated that the expansion would enable the businesses to afford to recruit more employees, hence reducing the unemployment rate within their communities and provisions. Thus, the more employees the more the production. The higher the production, the more the returns that would be reinvested back in the business.
multimedia business was at its initial stage, the respondent who owns the business stated that she could not purchase video production equipment, hence she used to hire a video and photographer which cost R30 000 per day. Hence, this forced her to seek for other means that would help them grow and maintain her business. She applied for loans, sponsorship and funding from either family or friends, other Activators or organizations. Two business partners from Eastern Cape agreed that they gained more help from other Activators in the A! Network than from ACTIVATE!.org.
The majority of these businesses gained funds from National Youth Development Agency and Social Development Departments within their provinces. However, gaining these funds had not been an easy job, the respondents argued, especially for the small scale and start-up businesses (newly established business). They applied for funding but they received negative responses. A respondent from Western Cape mentioned that when he applied for funding and loans, he was told that he was “not prepared or experienced enough to handle those funds or that I do not understand my own business well enough to understand that I am not yet at a position that requires external funds. They always suggest I start small with what I have” (Respondent, 2019).
For that reason, the respondents contested that they are forced to ask for more finance elsewhere, as investors declined to fund them once they found out that the business was being funded by another sponsor. For those who received sufficient funds, investors and sponsorship mentioned how important the funds they had received had helped their businesses grow. As mentioned previously by one of the respondents, the multimedia company lost approximately R30 000 every time they hired a video man or photographer. However, with the funds they received throughout the years of the business production, they eventually managed to save money and purchased their own video equipment. On the other hand, some respondents have also managed to sustain their business from the received non-monetary support from not only family member, their clients, friends, ACTIVATE! Network and also ACTIVATE!.org.
Similarly, other respondents remarked that they applied for funds but the responses were negative. Thereafter, they decided to seek other means, for instance, they run workshops, events and entered in competitions to generate money that they invested back in their businesses. As commented by a respondent in Western Cape: “I’ve tried ACTIVATE!, I’ve tried other Activators, I’ve tried business partners, and I’ve tried CEFA so a lot of government private funding institutions I’ve approached, I’ve entered competitions” (Respondent, 2019).
Moreover, there is a number of respondents who mentioned the tremendous assistance they received from ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme. The programme enabled them to grow and sustain their businesses efficiently and effectively. The support included the skills and knowledge they received during the training and workshops organized by the programme. As revealed by another respondent in Western Cape: “The programmes we
Nonetheless, there were some respondents who managed to receive funds. Yet, in most cases the funds were limited because of all the expenses that come with running a business. The businesses needed to generate enough turnover that would cover for their employees’ salaries, running workshops, marketing, purchase factors of production and run various events, yet be able to make profit after all the expenses. For that reason, the respondents contested that they are forced to ask for more finance elsewhere, as investors declined to fund them once they found out that the business was being funded by another sponsor. As stated by a respondent in KZN, “I asked for funding from eThekwini municipality. They responded and said our paperwork is perfect but the problem is we are funded by the Department of Social Development of KwaZulu-Natal (DSD) so they can’t fund us” (Respondent, 2019).
did with ACTIVATE! in Knysna, we were exposed to community development and it showed us entrepreneurship and showed us firm culture. It will be a career one day to sustain ourselves and the people around us” (Respondent, 2019). Similarly, a respondent in Western Cape had this to say: “The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme has grown me. It has allowed me to understand my business better, that is how I would say, and it has given me the confidence to approach stakeholders that I would have otherwise never been bold enough to approach or interact with” (Respondent, 2019).
In addition, when the respondent running a multimedia business in KZN was asked if the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme impacted her business, she stated that the programme helped her “a lot! Cause maybe if it weren’t for ACTIVATE! I don’t know where I would be in my life” (Respondent, 2019).
want to lie, personally I learned a lot of things, but some Activators do not donate, my organization haven’t benefited anything from ACTIVATE!” (Respondent, 2019). Respondents further argued that despite the monetary support that contributed tremendously to their businesses growth, there are other key factors that have also assisted them to grow. These included determination. This determination is put to practice by both the business owners (respondents) and their employees. Along with this, the respondents also stated that trust, honesty, and love are essential within a company. Without these, the businesses would have been out of operation by now.
The data collected from the interviews revealed that the majority of the businesses made use of the ACTIVATE!s innovation tools, especially the wash line and object cards tool. These tools have helped them to run, sustain, and plan ahead in their businesses. One business operator in Western Cape remarked “They taught us to be innovative…it actually taught me how to be an action… Hence, become an implementer not just a thinker” (Respondent, 2019). So did another respondent in Western Cape revealed that, “With object card I have learned that there’s more than one way of understanding a situation …with wash line or project management we’ve used it to map out our events and schedules… with LEMON leadership…it’s pointed out that you must know your strengths, where you are, you’re visionary? Where and what your strengths? Like are you more into conceptualizing than the doing? Are you more into people than secluded work and that has allowed me to understand the type of skills and the type of additional help that some of my initiators require and I know they type of people that must get on board in order to make a success off what I’m trying to do?” (Respondent, 2019).
Respondents further argued that despite the monetary support that contributed tremendously to their businesses growth, there are other key factors that have also assisted them to grow. These included determination.
In conclusion, the interviews enabled ACTIVATE! Change Drivers establish an understanding of how these businesses are operated, including how the capital was generated, the challenges the businesses faced, the measures that were taken to solve those challenges, hence gain an insight of the viability and capacity of these businesses.
Conversely, other respondents disagreed with that and argued that actually the ACTIVATE!.org did not help nor support their businesses at all. Instead, it was the closer communication that they built with other Activators in the A! Network that helped them. As a respondent in Eastern Cape stated, “For me people who have helped me are Activators themselves rather than the ACTIVATE!.org, who are at the office who are doing the program planning are doing the manuals of ACTIVATE! so it’s more of I could say ACTIVATE! is not an organization it’s only 10% of their assistance and the 90% falls on the Activators that are on the ground” (Respondent, 2019). A respondent in Limpopo also said, “I don’t
Challenges and opportunities for Activator Business Activators running businesses encounter the challenge of lacking financing. Most of them are inclined to self-funding their small businesses and those that are able to access funding have inconsistent funders who are not dependable. It is like dealing with the unknown, which means their job stability is going to plummet and many of their longer term plans will remain in limbo as new developments emerge.
Although he is running the business to make profits, he aims to also empower the previously disadvantaged. He stated that, “I help to deliver intellectual property in the sense that I advise, I administer, I draft reports, I draft book keeping, I draft legal documents, I give advice on complaints, I give strategic advice to entrepreneurs, so that is basically what I do” (Respondent, 2019).
Most of them are inclined to selffunding their small businesses and those that are able to access funding have inconsistent funders who are not dependable.
Dealing with volatility is one of the hardest parts of emerging as small business owners. Some businesses received very limited support from their communities and the Activators’ businesses lack marketing and therefore it becomes challenging to sustain them. A Respondent posited that, “We are not getting enough products out there, by selling because our buyers are mostly families and people we know, like people we meet along the way, the linkage is always natural communication, there is no social media so we make it like a natural product, a natural everything” (Respondent, 2019). One of the opportunities that Activators have is the opportunity to educate their local target markets. Although their main aim is to make profits, they also get to inform their clients about the running of business. For example, a respondent who is an Activator from the Western Cape, who is running a business development and administration company helps cross-route entrepreneurs get to the next level of their business journey or business goals.
One of the opportunities that Activators have is the opportunity to educate their local target markets. Although their main aim is to make profits, they also get to inform their clients about the running of business.
Supporting the ACTIVATE! Network: The Role of ACTIVATE! Organisation their province and nationally which keeps them posted. However, it is a different scenario with respondents in rural areas. They find it difficult to access electronic updates and information posted through e-mail and twitter, as they lack good signal and data. One respondent from rural Limpopo added that they had to travel long distances to access emails.
Communication and Support to A! Network One of the key findings on organizational support to the ACTIVATE! Network is communication. Respondents have a need to connect to each other and connect with the ACTIVATE! organization, especially when it runs support programmes and events. Respondents felt that communication during ACD training is very effective because of the close physical space between them and trainers. However, this communication steam goes down as soon as they depart from training. Most respondents feel that after training everyone goes back to their silos and remains isolated. Some of them felt that communication through social media platforms does not bring the same union that they get during training. In this regard one respondent from Eastern Cape retorted: “The Network is not strong as we cannot communicate and connect to each other effectively” (Respondent, 2019).
Many respondents from Eastern Cape expressed the same problem with the signal quality in their areas. One respondent in Eastern Cape pointed out that his admission offer letter into Switch programme became invalid after he saw the email late when the programme had commenced, due to lack of access to emails. The other respondent in Ga-Skororo village, added that they could not access electronic information easily due to poor signal in their area and it becomes very difficult for them to keep posted. She was of an opinion that short message service (sms) would work for them easily, instead of email.
There are also initiatives by Activators to create platforms for communication with others in their communities. One respondent alluded that they sometimes create WhatsApp groups with other Activators in their areas, but the groups just crumble quickly owing to lack of support and commitment to initiate professional online relationships. In some provinces respondents felt that they have a strong connection to each other and are giving each other support. This was supported by one respondent in Limpopo who said, “Here in Limpopo we are so close to each other, and we support one another which makes us a strong Network. I always receive great support like advice from other Activators which eases my work” (Respondent, 2019).
One respondent from rural Limpopo added that they had to travel long distances to access emails.
Some respondents, particularly in the Northern Cape, were of the view that communication and information from ACTIVATE! is not sufficient for their needs. They emphasized that ACTIVATE! should keep every respondent connected and involved. A respondent in the Northern Cape retorted, “As always Activators who are truly benefiting are those who are based in Cape Town and Gauteng” (Respondent, 2019). This particular respondent also posited that, “If ACTIVATE!’s aim and objective is to reach very young South African regardless of where they are based, then it should benefit every Activator. It seems ACTIVATE! is not doing this as
Communication support from ACTIVATE! organization is not uniform nationally, as there are some provinces which feel more supported than the others. A respondent in Limpopo felt that the communication from ACTIVATE! is sufficient, as it informs them about what will be happening in
appreciated that they are now able to Network, connect and communicate with each other. Some respondents confirmed that other Activators have helped them in running their projects. It is apparent, from the study that ACTIVATE! programmes are very useful as they have been introduced to people who matter. One respondent from Eastern Cape revealed that she has met other Activators and connected to people with different skills and different perceptions, which has helped her individually and in running her project.
it is very difficult for your voice to be heard if you come from other areas which are not Cape Town or Gauteng” (Respondent, 2019). However there were other respondents in the same province who applauded ACTIVATE! for a radio station which was initiated there. Respondents in provinces like Gauteng complain more about ACTIVATE! not funding them, and allege that ACTIVATE! does not have follow up systems to check on them and their projects. This in contrast with respondents in Mpumalanga and KZN who, despite many challenges in accessing information, went on to build their own Networks and collaboration platforms for their projects.
Other respondents felt that the Network allowed them to look up to others as they were generally introverts, according to their own words. The Network played a vital role in helping them reidentify themselves and know who they are. The relationship which Activators have built among themselves allows them to socialise, create new thinking and open them to new possibilities. The Network has a lot of information which is very helpful and useful to Activators. Some respondents in Free State noted that listening skills are part of the benefits they got from the Network. They stressed that being a good listener enabled them to hear other people instead of trying to bring your own theology into space every time. This skill they acquired made their life easy and their interaction meaningful.
These Activators have fund raised, and approached government’s Department of Social Development which has financially supported them. This team of 5 Activators has set up a social Networking centre for young people of Ndunda village in Malelani, impacting other young people in their communities. Some respondents felt that ACTIVATE! events and activities are not filtered to their provinces and local areas. They posit that most of these events only happen in Johannesburg and Durban, especially those with a national outlook. There were general reservations around the National Imbizo which was to be held in Johannesburg. Many respondents felt that national events should be done across the whole country and be rotated provincially, instead of Durban and Johannesburg dominating. One female respondent further questioned the criteria being used by ACTIVATE! staff to choose the people to attend national events, arguing that they are the same faces attending every event and programme. She opined that, “Now that there is an Imbizo coming soon and it was said only 100 Activators are to attend the National Imbizo, we don’t know who are going to attend. We really need to see new faces and chances and opportunities should be given to everyone in the Network” (Respondent, 2019).
The Network has a lot of information which is very helpful and useful to Activators. Some respondents in Free State noted that listening skills are part of the benefits they got from the Network.
A number of respondents acknowledged that the Network is immensely supported by ACTIVATE!. Some respondents noted that sometimes they get vacancy advertisements and communication on the application process for jobs, which is very helpful. With the support and communication respondents receive about ACTIVATE! programmes, they believe they can fully participate in Network activities. The positive impact of the Network has been
Supporting the Network Strategy The development strategy of a youth-led Network by ACTIVATE! seems to be affirmed by most respondents in this study. A number of respondents
acknowledged by one respondent in KZN, who regarded the staff and facilitator as friendly and very supportive as they create a better atmosphere to work in. They also felt the environment allows them to air out their views freely.
funder giving them R30000 for each respondent to be trained, why they cannot fund us as well by giving each a R10000 to start a project and implement all that we have learnt.” Some claim disappointment with ACTIVATE!, in the sense that when there are programmes or events to be attended, some would be funded for the transport and others will be told to use their own money. They were eager to know the qualification one should have to be reimbursed all travel expenses when others are not reimbursed. Another respondent in Limpopo also noted that in some instances events they attend they were only reimbursed the one way trip, making it very difficult to attend events in other provinces.
However, other respondents suggested that ACTIVATE! should make an effort to call them and check how they are doing their projects, not only to receive calls from ACTIVATE! when they need them to answer questionnaires. Most respondents felt that they need constant communication with ACTIVATE!. A respondent in KZN expressed gratitude to the Network, as he was supported in his Red Cross event by the ACTIVATE! team which Koko had brought to the event. This led to the event being big and very successful. These respondents thanked Koko for the support they had received. Another responded in Ga-Skororo village also expressed gratitude in the Network as it had allowed her to do her project by assisting her with a laptop and a Wi-Fi router for her project. In that regard, another responded in North West shared her happiness also, as she participated in a competition in which she won herself a camera. Another respondent from Stillfontain in NW expressed happiness as she won a laptop through the post which she received from ACTIVATE!.
Some respondents felt that facilitators of ACD should clarify on the issue of proposal writing, as they think their ideas are being stolen or used to lure funding for others. This requires trainers to clarify the purpose of the proposals, that they are for learning purposes as hopes will be raised, thinking that it is a real proposal for funding.
One respondent pointed out that the changes in ACTIVATE! staff and portfolios are frequent, and disrupt relations and smooth flow of their projects.
However, there were other respondents who felt the Network is not fully supported by ACTIVATE!. One respondent pointed out that the changes in
One respondent from KZN asked the staff in the ACTIVATE! office to be friendly, accommodative and welcoming. It seems the office is not welcoming, as one or two people will be able to recognize the respondent, so he was of the opinion that every staff member of ACTIVATE! should make that space comfortable whether or not you know the Activator. Another respondent from Eastern Cape said that her communication with ACTIVATE! ended after the training in 2012. Despite these challenges, some of the respondents are running real projects, unlike some in Gauteng who receive frequent communication but are always looking up to ACTIVATE! to source funds for them to operate their business or projects.
ACTIVATE! staff and portfolios are frequent, and disrupt relations and smooth flow of their projects. He further stated that, “If one has a conversation with an ACTIVATE! staff, the next time when you make a follow up you only find out that the person whom you earlier contacted is no longer part of the team which makes it difficult to re-introducing your issue instead of progressing from where you left. You have to start all over again which lacks consistency” (Respondent, 2019). Another respondent in the Northern Cape alleged that, “ACTIVATE! does not fund us. In our intake we were vocal about the funding. If ACTIVATE! has a
individuals that can transport them to the training venues, because some disabled people cannot travel from Mpumalanga or Gauteng to Durban. They have special needs, he suggested that the trainings come to the people so that it is easier for all people to enrol and do the programmes without the distance barriers.
ACTIVATE! Programming: Effectiveness and Efficiency The businesses and the NGOs showed growth and improvement when the Activators themselves compared their various programmes and projects to how they were running before the Activators participated in the training. The results of the ACD training made the Activators encouraged and motivated to start their own programmes. A respondent from Thohoyandou said that after attending the ACD training in 2015, he had the desire to begin his own transport business of taking school learners to school. This proves that the ACTIVATE! Network has the ability to influence Activators to think differently and have the courage to start new things.
The Network teaches young people about self-identity which allows the Activators to understand who they are as individuals and what they can do in their communities and also change other people’s lives.
The Network has also taught people about the
“It was actually a very good experience because I be learning experience mostly eeh from intake, from the first training, I was part of training two and I got to learn a lot of experience about myself as a person and how I should engage with other people because of the character that I have” (Respondent, 2019). The Network teaches young people about self-identity which allows the Activators to understand who they are as individuals and what they can do in their communities and also change other people’s lives. The Network ensures that the people recognise their strengths and abilities.
importance of having leadership skills and being a self-starter. The ACD training has taught them about their ability to influence the community and to work well with other people, for the greater good. “ACTIVATE! has helped me by gaining a skill and eh also just regaining my strength and confident and re building my life in the community and also learn how to help others” (Respondent, 2019). This respondent from Kwa-Zulu Natal stated that the ACTIVATE! Network has helped her with knowing her identity as a young person and also being able to have more options in terms of work, by having skills.
A respondent who runs an NGO in Polokwane, said that after doing the CCDC programme, he was eager to learn more about socio-political issues in the country and also be part of the policy and decision making in his province. Furthermore, he mentioned that since the CCDC training, he was now the chairperson of people that are disabled in his ward and is more involved in government decisions. The ACTIVATE! Network has helped him in believing that social change that is for the people is possible and he was determined to make it happen. However, the respondent felt that the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network does not accommodate every person in South Africa, saying that disabled people were excluded in the programmes and that their needs were not catered for. He felt that the Network should have transport for disabled
The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme does not segregate people from rural areas, which makes it easier to change young minds and innovate people across South Africa. A respondent in the Eastern Cape said that the Network has helped him network with other Activators across South Africa, which was not easy before he joined the ACTIVATE! Network. She said it was difficult to Network with other people because being from rural areas means that you are excluded from things or it is always a struggle to Network and showcase your work and abilities. The experience that comes with the programmes is of great value to the programmes that Activators run. The majority of Activators specified that their
programmes were no longer the same after going to the trainings and attending the programmes, “The Switch helps me with knowing who my clients are and how to interact with them. I use the washline method to plan everything about what is going to happen throughout the year” (Respondent, 2019). This respondent from Gauteng said that the innovation tools such as the washline method have helped him in knowing how to run his business effectively.
municipality because whatever financial thing we need or whatever thing we need if ACTIVATE! can interfere through our municipality that’s going to be simple for us to champion our development programme or our project through them because we go to an office of maybe Ekurhuleni sometime thinks don’t come that fast but I thing if ACTIVATE! can interfere and start speaking to our municipality our program will run smoothly throughout municipality that’s the thing I would request from them say guys can you help us have a link with them so that they can know that there is this certain people cause now we know we trying to do that but without their help its slow process but we know if they go there and inject their input we may win the battle” (Respondent, 2019). This further proves that Activators believe that ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is the key to making them thrive in their businesses or NGOs.
The purpose and goals of the ACTIVATE! Change Driver’s Network are being implemented by the organisation. The results show, in the way Activators perceived things around them, the Activators now have hope that structural inequalities can be corrected. All races, gender, classes and people of different backgrounds are allowed the same chance to success and change their societies through the Network. One of the respondents in Eastern Cape mentioned that living in rural areas now does not hinder them from developing their skills and being isolated from the rest of South Africa.
The programmes that the ACTIVATE! Network offers is easily accessible because ACTIVATE! Change Drivers supports the Activators in assisting them with transport, accommodation and food, which makes it cost effective for the Activators and it ensures their availability during the trainings. Furthermore, Activators spoke about how their perception changed after being part of the programmes. They now wanted to be more involved around their society and country, some even taking it as far as Africa.
All races, gender, classes and people of different backgrounds are allowed the same chance to success and change their societies through the Network.
ACTIVATE! Programming: Relevance to the A! Network
The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a form of Network which connects people with the same vision and also introduces mentors and support structures within the Network. This alleviates social, political, and economic challenges throughout South Africa. Participation in the programmes increases partnerships. Firstly, the Activators find partnerships within themselves during the trainings and also get to understand different ways in which you can build relationships that will enhance your business or NGO.
The programmes that ACTIVATE! provide are relevant to the Activators because they give Activators insight into what it takes to run a programme or project. The Network gives Activators the foundation they need to grow. The Switch and the community development programmes were known the most by Activators and they were also determined to take part in similar programmes in the future.
“Mind, one thing I would request is…because we don’t want funding from ACTIVATE!, but I can say to them guys can you assist us to link us with
“Actually it helps a lot in terms of local government election making the local government work, it helped knowing first who is your ward counsellor
instance one Activator who was interviewed said that ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network should be able to look for donations and also funders that can donate and fund the businesses, which also means ACTIVATE! Network can also look for clients and potential investors. When this does not take place, it is deemed as failure and ineffectiveness of the Network. High and unrealistic expectations, such as ACTIVATE! Network ensuring that NGOs are registered quickly through the government systems are some of the things that Activators mentioned. Again it could be a question of whether ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is really ineffective or it is the Activators that expect too much.
and two knowing how to build that relationship with her and also trying to help also as a young person on how she can bring service delivery for young people, so even tomorrow we running a position with ward committee for the youth sector” (Respondent, 2019). The above statement was made by the respondent who further stated that the ACTIVATE! programmes were being helpful. He said ACTIVATE! helped him in knowing what is happening around him and also learning more about himself as an individual and discovering who he is and what he can achieve. In terms of the programmes, he said that they did not help him that much but also mentioned that the washline method sometimes assists in the running of business. Other Activators stated that the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programmes is their start-up place that motivates and encourages them to follow their dreams and to have that drive to change their communities and personal lives.
Activators mentioned that the Network actually grooms other Activators and is a stepping stone that really takes them to greater heights, so it was about how one individual sees the effectiveness of the Network into their programme, than it being about putting all the Activators under one umbrella. The views of the Activators who were doing business was slightly different when compared to those of non-governmental organisations in that, with the Activators that were in business, their main issue was that the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network does not provide programmes that resonate with them and what they need to improve. They feel like the programmes do not speak to them and their business objectives, one respondent from Gauteng said that as effective as the programmes are, they do not accommodate all the business sectors.
However, a respondent from Eastern Cape said, “The strength of ACTIVATE! is to equip, they are doing a good job” (Respondent, 2019). This shows that the Network equips people with skills and lessons that build them and provide the Activators with platforms to be innovative and navigate around social struggles. “For me people who have helped me are rather the Activators themselves rather than the organisation who are at the office who are doing the program planning; are doing the manuals of ACTIVATE!
Other Activators stated that the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programmes is their start-up place that motivates and encourages them to follow their dreams and to have that drive to change their communities and personal lives.
so it’s more of I could say ACTIVATE! is not an organisation” (Respondent, 2019). Even though some of the respondents felt that other Activators are the ones doing more work when it comes to supporting their programmes, the Network links Activators to each other so they can get in touch with each other and Network. This further tells us that ACTIVATE! Change Driver’s Network is indeed a tool to start up and link people to other businesses and NGOs. The majority of the Activators get the impression that the Network has access to most things in South Africa, for
He further said that as a business person who is a creative, he does not feel that his needs are well taken care of at the programmes. Another one said that the programmes do not teach him about finance, that is, how to get capital and utilise profits, so he noted that Activators do not know how to manage the business funds. Therefore the business becomes unsustainable and does not grow. Since Activators are a group of people who are still young and trying to find their feet in businesses or NGOs, they become overwhelmed with certain issues such as finance, and that may be the biggest drawback. With that said, the ACTIVATE! Network would need to cater for all business types by starting with basic business principles.
The issue was that the communities, especially in rural areas, do not understand the purpose and aims of an NGO so most of the time the Activators would then clash with the community.
Moreover, organisations in cities were much more prosperous compared to the ones in rural areas. Community members in the cities understand and support the NGOs, including the government, local businesses and celebrities, so it was easier and more effective in the urban areas. It also became evident that NGOs were active in the urban places because they had their own working stations and beneficiaries unlike in rural areas. The NGOs in Gauteng understood the role of the ACTIVATE! Network and mentioned the huge impact it has to further grow their organisations. One factor that could be making the urban areas more effective than the rural areas is that some of the Activators in rural areas felt that the ACTIVATE! Network is biased, on the basis that Activators in cities like those in Gauteng and Cape Town were at an advantage because they are closer to the offices, making it easier and also quicker to receive help and support from the Network. Also, they felt that Activators from Gauteng and Cape Town are always given first preference.
Since Activators are a group of people who are still young and trying to find their feet in businesses or NGOs, they become overwhelmed with certain issues such as finance, and that may be the biggest drawback.
The non-governmental organisations differ because they have different needs altogether. The majority of the NGOs were facing challenges of community participation, which made the programmes mostly ineffective, because the communities are their main and most important targets. The issue was that the communities, especially in rural areas, do not understand the purpose and aims of an NGO so most of the time the Activators would then clash with the community. What they wanted from the ACTIVATE! Network is for the reputable Network to support them when they host programmes in the community, so to validate their intentions and make the people believe in the NGOs, rural areas were especially the ones with issues of support in terms of participation, with the mentality that the NGOs are donation centres.
One other issue was volunteerism. They noted that the programs do not teach them how to win over volunteers and sponsors, so what transpires is that people volunteer for a short while and give up because they have needs. One Activator said that the Network should give the people who volunteer some form of recognition so that they will motivate others to join the programmes. The programmes are only effective for a short while. A respondent in North West felt that during the training, the programmes are inspiring and they feel they could conquer the world and provoke and change their societies but after the programmes, not enough support is given to the Activators and they feel neglected and left to be on their own by the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network.
ACTIVATE! Network is indeed good with keeping in touch with other members of the programme. It is a link that connects other Activators across South Africa, and it is a connection that is beyond the programme borders. Moreover he said that the ACTIVATE! Network made it easy to access information such as employment opportunities, events, and other important matters of the communities.
One respondent said he was satisfied with the Switch programme during the training but he also felt that the ACTIVATE! Network does not support the very same people they are trying to groom. The respondent further elaborated that the ACTIVATE! Network should be giving them financial support to start or maintain their businesses, since most of them are running small businesses that are still growing and need financial assistance. He further stated that ACTIVATE! Network does not need to take people to hotels but, rather, they can use community halls and centres to teach these programmes. That way, they can save money that will help the small businesses. This would also ensure that more people participate in the programmes.
On the other hand, one of the respondents from Venda voiced out that it becomes difficult to communicate through the online spaces and so it would make things easier if it was done face to face, meaning that stations nearby would make it convenient to approach the ACTIVATE! offices one-on-one. A respondent from a rural area in Harding, KZN, complained the most about online communication. He finds it difficult to interact and
The respondent further elaborated that the ACTIVATE! Network should be giving them financial support to start or maintain their businesses, since most of them are running small businesses that are still growing and need financial assistance.
sometimes to even use the media spaces. An issue with social media was that the respondents felt that the WhatsApp groups and others were disorganised and not entirely purposeful. They also felt that the groups did not provide individual attention that will cater for all their needs. Therefore it would be useful to have stations in each province, to be able to meet up with other Activators surrounding them. One Activator also mentioned that there are no physical places to meet and interact with other Activators and the only time they get to see each other is during the training, which now hinders the sharing of knowledge and support amongst each other. With that said, it becomes clear that the Network does reach out to the Activators through the various communication tools, but it is not enough.
All in all, the ACTIVATE! Network gave them ideas and different ways to tackle issues and be innovative and provocative to the way they see things but the problem would be implementation, actually putting all those ideas to life.
Reaching Network Members: Connections and Networking The ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network does all it can to reach out to the Activators before, during and after the programmes. The most important thing is therefore, communication and relevance to the Network and programmes. The Network team is fairly good with communication skills, in that they are active in all their social media spaces, newspapers and emails. The Network also ensures that every question or comment is addressed through online spaces. â€œA strength I would say ACTIVATE! has a good way of keeping contact with peopleâ€? (Respondent, 2019). He mentioned that the
One of the respondents in the Northern Cape shared that it is difficult to attend events that are planned by the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network because usually they are announced at short notice. Another one emphasised this point by saying that ACTIVATE! does not tell Activators on time about events so as to give them time to prepare themselves be it financially or otherwise. This leads them to not attending that particular event that
may enrich and empower them. Moreover, some Activators felt that as much as the Network is being supportive, it is supporting them in theory, being skills development and through learning but not on the ground level. The Activator went on to say that the Network needs to be visible when they host certain events in their programmes by being physically showing up to show support, provide them with ACTIVATE! Change Drivers banners for free, instead of them sourcing them for themselves, and finally check up on the Activators from time to time.
Therefore it would be useful to have stations in each province, to be able to meet up with other Activators surrounding them.
In conclusion, the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers programme is effective in some way, by initiating change and drive to the people to better their communities. Furthermore, it gives Activators a platform to start new things and be innovative, and the programmes provoke their way of thinking and seeing things around them, which can be used to change and take charge of their communities. That being said, the Network needs to go to the ground to find out what is it that the Activators need and how the Network should go about addressing the various issues, so that there is mutual understanding and benefits to both the Activators and programmes of ACTIVATE!.
Recommendations The efficacy of the youth Network as a development strategy to address social and health challenges among young people has a profound effect to both Network members and communities in South Africa. However, the Network strategy such as ACTIVATE! Network requires long term commitment of programming, resourcing and sustaining. Long term commitment would continue to nurture the intricate issues of communications, connections and networking required for a vibrant and impactful Network. This should be the core focus of ACTIVATE! support to the Network.
Overall, the impact demonstrated in this study needs to be expanded so it can be consolidated for the benefit of communities. As has been shown in the report, most Activatorsâ€™ initiatives are targeting young people who are facing health risks and social challenges. Sustaining these projects would not only improve the livelihoods of the young people involved here, but for the general youth of South Africa.
Sustaining these projects would not only improve the livelihoods of the young people involved here, but for the general youth of South Africa.
There is need to continue to reflect on the diverse spectrum of social and political initiatives of Activators in light of shrinking financial support to the social sector. Support should be directed to the skills and capacity needs of Activators, while recognising that their initiatives span across a number of socio-economic sectors.
There is need to continue to reflect on the diverse spectrum of social and political initiatives of Activators in light of shrinking financial support to the social sector.
Deliberate efforts should be made to expand the reach of ACTIVATE! programmes such as SWITCH Entrepreneurial Programme, ensuring it reaches the majority of Activators, while answering to needs to develop products and markets. Markets, if nurtured correctly, may integrate Activator business to the broader business community in South Africa. There is need for crafting and lobbying for financial support to Activators, especially from the large financial sector and government.
Conclusion This study has demonstrated the efficacy of a social youth Network as a viable development strategy, particularly in countries where development is uneven, fragile and difficult. Young people, when capacitated with the right skills and knowledge, motivation and resources, are capable of initiating ripples of positive change in their local communities. The findings of this study further confirm the sociopolitical and economic impacts Activators are having in communities in South Africa. The challenge of the A! Network is in creating sustainable options to fuel development, with minimal support from the parenting organisation, ACTIVATE!. Crucial to the development narrative is energising and supporting social Networks for youth development and transform societies for the good of all.
Young people, when capacitated with the right skills and knowledge, motivation and resources, are capable of initiating ripples of positive change in their local communities.
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Appendix A ACTIVATE! Definition list ACD
In an environment that nurtures social, economic and political forces for community development, this is our entry-tier course that helps participants take their leadership skills to the next level. Activate Change Drivers Programme- This is our core training program. Once you complete this you become an Activator. This programme has been running since 2012.
Also known as SSEP (Switch Social Entrepreneurship program) Is a 11-month course for carefully-selected aspiring social entrepreneurs. The SSE programme helps participants nurture the development of strong social businesses, helping them to proceed from an idea to business incubation or the start-up of their initiative.
Many times, many Activators are effective community development workers lacking only a formal qualification. The CCD Course is accredited by SAQA as a nationally-recognised tertiary certificate, instructing course attendees in local & international best practice and practical skills.
Connect, Inspire, Provoke and Influence â€“ these portfolioâ€™s is very involved in A! Network activities, such as dialogues, workshops, social media conversations etc.
The main people who are supporting your project, beneficiaries, funders, advisors.
You are implementing it via an organisation (registered NGO/NPO or registered business)
Consolidating Impact Innovation tools
E.g. you are coaching kids, tutoring maths, and teach teenagers about health. Together you are helping young people Project Planning washline Concept Cards Object cards Matrix Stakeholder engagement pack
Appendix B ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Second Tier Study (to be completed before interviews start in duplicate before interviews begin) Interviewer: _________________________ Interviewee: _________________________ Date: _______________________________ Time: _______________________________ Location: ____________________________ Consent Form for Interviews Thank you for reading the information sheet about the interview sub-study. If you are happy to participate then please complete and sign the form below. Please initial the boxes below to confirm that you agree with each statement: I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I am free to withdraw at any time without giving any reason and without there being any negative consequences. In addition, should I not wish to answer any particular question or questions, I am free to decline. I understand that my responses will be kept strictly confidential. I understand that my name will not be linked with the research materials, and will not be identified or identifiable in the report or reports that result from the research. I agree for this interview to be tape-recorded. I understand that the audio recording made of this interview will be used only for analysis and that extracts from the interview, from which I would not be personally identified, may be used in any conference presentation, report or journal article developed as a result of the research. I understand that no other use will be made of the recording without my written permission, and that no one outside the research team will be allowed access to the original recording. I agree that my anonymised data will be kept for future research purposes such as publications related to this study after the completion of the study. I agree to take part in this interview. ___________________ ________________ Name of participant Date ___________________ Data collection officer
___________________ Signature ___________________ Signature
Please initial box:
Appendix C : Interview Guides Interview guide for Activators on Campaigns and NGOâ€™s Step 1: Introduction of data collection officer Step 2: Explain purpose of the survey: This is a second tier study which aims to understand the impact of Activators on their communities. We would like to gain insight into the work Activators are doing in their communities and what role the ACTIVATE! Network played in this. Interviewer: _________________________ Interviewee/ number: _________________ Date: _______________________________ Questions 1.
What year did you take part in the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Programme?
Have you taken part in any other ACTIVATE! Programs? (e.g. Switch, CDCC, CIPI)
What kind of program are you currently running?
3.1 What is the overal goal/aim of the program?
3.2 How long have you been running this program?
3.3 Who does your project/program target? Who are your stakeholders? (Elaborate on answer e.g. age etc.)
3.4 How does your program/project benefit the people you are targeting?
3.5 Approximately how many people are you reaching every year through your program/project? (be specific, e.g. 5 girls in my area, 7 schools which is approximate 500 students a year)
3.6 Is it a once off or constant engagement with beneficiaries?
3.7 How are you implementing the project/program, (individual or institutional)?
3.8 How is the program/project being funded?
How is your life being impacted through running this project/program?
What is the most important result/impact of your project/program?
What do you think are the key success factors that have helped you make a positive impact?
What are the challenges your program faces in implementation and consolidating its impact?
How has the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers program impacted your project/program?
Have you made use of any of the ACTIVATE! Innovation tools? If yes, What and How?
List key strengths, weaknesses, and impacts of the A! Network that you have experienced? (ensure they list each one)
How would you describe the support you have received from the A! Network and Activate.org
Interview guide for beneficiaries Step 1: Introduction of data collection officer Step 2: Explain purpose of the survey: This is a second tier study which aims to understand the impact of Activators on their communities. We would like to gain insight into the work Activators are doing in their communities and what role the ACTIVATE! Network played in this. Interviewer: _________________________ Beneficiary/ number: __________________ Date: _______________________________ 1. Have you heard about ACTIVATE! Change Drivers before this interview? 2. Do you know about the program/project that is being run by _______________ (insert Activator name) 3. Has this program/project benefited you?
a. If yes how?
4. How long have you been part of this program/project? (from and until) 5. How would you describe this program/project? 6. What do you think the aim/goal of the project is? 7. What do you think are the standout results/impact of this program/project? (for beneficiary and community) 8. What do you think are the key success factors that have helped the program/project make a positive impact? 9. What do you think are challenges the program faces with project implementation and consolidating its impact? And why? 10. What recommendations
Interview guide for Activator businesses Step 1: Introduction of data collection officer Step 2: Explain purpose of the survey: This is a second tier study which aims to understand the impact of Activators on their communities. We would like to gain insight into the work Activators are doing in their communities and businesses they are running and what role the ACTIVATE! Network played in this
Interviewer: _________________________ Interviewee/ number: __________________ Date: _______________________________
What year did you take part in the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Programme?
Have you taken part in any other ACTIVATE! Programs? (e.g. Switch, CDCC, CIPI)
When did you start your business?
What kind of business are you running?
What is the aim/ goal of your business?
What business services or goods are you delivering?
How has your business been funded?
What market are you targeting?
Who are your current customers/beneficiaries?
How many people do you employ?
On average, what is your monthly turnover?
How do you utilize your profit?
What do you think are the key factors that have helped you grow your business?
What are the challenges your business faces?
Have you made use of any of the ACTIVATE! Innovation tools? If yes, What and How?
How has the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers program impacted your business?
List key strengths, weaknesses, and impacts of the A! Network
How would you describe the support you have received from the A! Network and Activate.org?
Interview Checklist (to be completed per each respondent) Interviewer: _________________________ Interviewee: _________________________ Date: _______________________________ Time: _______________________________ Location: ____________________________ 1. I have my interview guides 2. I have my consent forms 3. I have my tools 4.
Identified that this is the correct Interviewee
Discuss the consent form with the Interviewee
Interviewee has signed 2 consent forms
I have checked that my recorder is working once I start
Once recording starts ensure you have mentioned:
a. Your name b. Date c. Time d. Place
e. The interviewees name or number
Close off the interview by mentioning the end time.
If it is a business I have used my interview guide for business
If is it is an NGO or campaign I have used my interview guide for NGO or Campaign
a. I have used my tools b. I have asked for beneficiaries
c. I have used my interview guide for beneficiaries
@Activate_ZA Activate! Change Drivers @ActivateZA
This Report details the findings of a qualitative study which aimed at understanding the socio-economic and political impact of the ACTIVATE...
Published on Jul 10, 2019
This Report details the findings of a qualitative study which aimed at understanding the socio-economic and political impact of the ACTIVATE...