The Problem

Millions of young women and men with no line of sight to opportunities

Our first 10 years

Giving thousands of young people a “leg up” to see and access opportunities

The next 10 years

Removing systematic barriers for all creates more opportunities

Our vision is to enable a growing economy and a society that works, powered by the potential of young people. South Africa has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world. Businesses struggle to hire and grow, governments invest limited tax revenues in incentives and training that don’t deliver results, and motivated young people are locked out of the economy by many barriers. Achieving this vision means more than giving thousands of youth a ‘leg up’ as we have done in our first 10 years. Instead, we need to work to remove the systemic barriers that will create more opportunities for all.

Originally founded in 2011, Harambee understood the need to map the requirements of the entire system from the outset. We started with a proof-of-concept phase, demonstrating that excluded work-seekers with no prior work experience could succeed in formal-sector jobs – disproving traditional practices and assumptions of employers.

This led to our next phase of building scalable solutions for government – an early recognition that the challenges facing young people and businesses could not be solved without the government. Our pathway management platform has supported partnerships with the Gauteng Provincial Government and now through the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention.

We believe that in by addressing South Africa’s challenges – at scale and at its root – we can provide an African blueprint to tackle the global challenge of youth unemployment.

What is the problem?

Today, young people navigate so many broken systems in their transition from a poorly performing education system into a labour market shaped by jobless growth and massive disruption. Barely a third will find work or are able to continue their education. The situation is particularly dire for young women, whose barriers to work-seeking are higher and harder than they are for young men.

This unequal labour market is held in place by many myths, including the belief that “more [skills, degrees, training], means that you’ll have a leg up on opportunity.” But this is not the lived reality of millions of young women and men.

A linear pathway from school, to university, to a first job no longer exists, anywhere in the world. Structural barriers (like jobless growth and ill-equipped education systems) and personal barriers (lack of money and networks) keep millions of youth out of opportunity. 

Even in well-functioning labour markets, a vast subsystem of ‘linkages’ connect individuals to opportunity—this includes access to further education, CV/resume services, personal networks of recommendation, professional certification programmes, matching engines, and other similar linkages. While there is a critical need to create more jobs and income opportunities, we must also shift this system of ‘linkages’ so that the jobs that are created are visible and accessible to excluded young people.

Our Roadmap

In recent years, government leaders, business executives and civil society champions have been aligning around common coalitions, evidence-based solutions, and more coordinated plans of action, including South Africa’s Presidential Youth Employment Intervention. In the next decade we will leverage this momentum to achieve a growing economy and a society that works, powered by the potential of young people.

We seek to do this by:

  • Creating industry alliances to generate jobs of the future
  • Supporting businesses to adopt inclusive hiring methods
  • Partnering with business and government to reduce barriers to accessing employment
  • Creating new ways of earning in the informal economy, and
  • Shifting government spend from input-based activities like training, to outcomes-based results like work experiences and job placement.
    • We will do this by designing solutions with youth at the centre and through active leadership coalitions across our society

      The priority is to impact the 3 million engaged youth who will actively seek work over the next 5 years by contributing to the creation of more jobs and income opportunities as well as a transformed work-seeking experience. In this way they continuously build their profile and grow their earning potential – this is what we call “pathway management”. We propose delivering 1 million jobs, work experiences, and income opportunities in the coming five years for this network of 3 million youth. This will lay the building blocks to triple our impact in the following five years.

    Watch a short video about how Harambee wants to change the system – at scale!

    Research and Insights