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A young adult served by RLabs in South Africa

RLabs: Building credentials and hope for young adults in South Africa

Ona Meyer

The majority of young adults in South Africa have little to no marketable skills or training, which provides limited access to the jobs needed to support themselves or their families. At the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to overcome these barriers and obtain meaningful employment.

In my role, I work with many organizations that provide support, training, and career development to young adults in South Africa. These partners provide much more than skills and access to jobs — they also provide hope. RLabs is one of these organizations that was specifically founded to provide hope to those who need it most. RLabs works to not only provide skills to those aiming to grow their credentials, but also gives them a chance to proudly participate in their community, provide for their families, and move towards a more positive future.

Building a social CV

The RLabs team believes that the most impactful solutions are developed in collaboration with the communities they serve. As such, the RLabs team is comprised of young adults from lower-income communities across South Africa. This vibrant team has experienced the loss of confidence while trying to find a job and shared in the immense hope that comes from feeling valued when finding meaningful employment. The RLabs team provides this experience to others through its Zlto (Zlah-toh) platform — which, since its creation, has helped more than 100,000 young adults in South Africa build a social CV and earn incentives.

Zlto uses mobile technology to provide opportunities for young adults to complete community service activities and training programs while building marketable skills and earning incentives at the same time. Through the Zlto platform, users earn virtual credit that can be used to purchase essentials like food, data, and electricity. The community service activities are verified and built into a social CV right in the platform. The social CV can be included when applying for jobs, as it provides verifiable competency and behavior data that informs employer hiring decisions. As Zlto grows its user base, the RLabs team will continue its commitment to helping place young adults in jobs.

Continuing through COVID-19

During the South African national lockdown, the RLabs team provided opportunities for its users to continue to engage in the community and earn Zlto virtual credits for essentials. The team created virtual bootcamps and other online learning opportunities to teach new skills, and encouraged young adults to help their communities by making and distributing face masks. Zlto also provided opportunities for young adults to give back, and more than 700 users put their credits toward the purchase of electricity for local senior citizen homes in need. I am grateful to the RLabs team for providing hope to communities across South Africa and inspired to see many people who are choosing to pass that hope onto others.

If you have a request for funding that is related to COVID-19, please know that we are committed to fighting this pandemic and its subsequent economic fallout. Our immediate available funding has gone to accelerating the development of therapies, increasing the supply of PPE in Texas, stabilizing small business, and assisting our portfolio of current partners.