In South Africa, the odds are stacked against students from low-income backgrounds at university. Only two in five of the country’s financial aid students make it to university graduation, and those who do often struggle to compete for meaningful employment. While university education is fee-free for students from lower-income backgrounds, it’s our firm belief that students need more than financial funding to succeed. That’s why we started the Dell Young Leaders program in 2010.
This is not a traditional scholarship. We help students navigate the challenges they encounter on their journey, supporting them through university and as they find a meaningful career in their field of study.
Impact in action
Each year, we select low-income students from leading universities in South Africa for our Dell Young Leaders initiative. Throughout the relationship-based program, we offer students personalized advice and resources in the areas they tell us they need more support, including financial, academic, wellness, and career services.
The reality of arriving at university was more challenging than my big dreams let me imagine. I faced the pressure of not embarrassing my parents by returning home without a degree, a feeling of being alone, and barriers of being from a township.Snegugu Vilakazi, Dell Young Leaders alum
As a Dell Young Leader student or alumni, you join a community of more than 900 young adults across South Africa who are committed to achieving their goals and changing their lives — and the lives of others.
The program selects students with grit and leadership potential who are pursuing professional and in-demand degrees at our partner universities. We then provide career readiness development to ensure they are competitive for leading graduate employment opportunities. South Africa’s top employers can connect to this talent through direct partnerships with the program. To date, we’ve placed 98 percent of Dell Young Leaders students in positions following university graduations.
I was very anxious about getting a job. I attended workshops with the Dell Young Leaders program team that prepared me for the world of work. I had 1:1 career guidance to work on my CV and get feedback on my interview technique, which made me able to compete for top employment opportunities. When I got into work, those lessons made me stand out.Vincent Magagula, Dell Young Leaders alum
Today, all 430+ Dell Young Leaders alumni are employed or pursuing further studies across 12 key industries in South Africa, including healthcare, law, and engineering. They are part of a lifelong community of skilled professionals working across industry sectors. From mentoring current students to supporting their families as breadwinners, the Dell Young Leaders community is set on a path to give back to the program — and transform their lives and communities.