18twenty8 is an award-winning, women-led nonprofit organisation (NPO) that empowers young women between the ages of 18 and 28, from disadvantaged backgrounds, by developing strategies for their educational and personal development. They encourage young women to view higher education as an attractive and necessary tool for their empowerment. They have carved a niche for themselves by being one of a few organisations in South Africa that is 100 percent led by young women who empower other young women. Being young, female and previously-disadvantaged ensures that their approach remains empathetic, skills-enhancing and relevant to the young women that they serve since they have experienced some of the beneficiaries' challenges first-hand. the organisation's objectives are to:
- Facilitate life-skills workshops for girls in grade 11 and grade 12 at high schools in marginalised communities;
- Curb youth unemployment by recruiting and training community-based youth to facilitate our workshops;
- Match our beneficiaries to empathetic mentors and academic role models through our Big Sister Network; and
- Provide financial assistance for the tertiary education of deserving young women.
18twenty8 facilitates life-skills workshops for girls in Grade 11-12 at high schools in marginalised communities. The workshops further allow the organisation to identify girls who can become our Little Sisters and benefit from the support and mentorship of the 18twenty8 Big Sister Network. The workshops have a strong focus on skill-building exercises that support the girls’ development. Through the workshops that 18twenty has organised they have reached 3 660 high school girls since inception in 2009. On Professional Day Workshop they invite professionals to speak to the girls and also expose them to various careers. Secondly, they have the Self Empowerment Workshop where they teach the girls on assertiveness; goal setting and life planning, financial freedom, grooming and presentation power with regards to speech writing and public speaking.
Thirdly, they have the Health and Lifestyle Workshop where the girls are taught on issues such as HIV/AIDS; sexual responsibility, personal hygiene, saying no to sugar daddies, breast cancer and cervical cancer awareness and self defence. Lastly, the organisation offers the Career and Entrepreneurship Development Workshop where the young girls learn how to write their curriculum vitas and business planning skills; corporate interview techniques and how to cope at their first jobs and businesses.
Since 2009, the organisation has conducted workshops at community high schools in the Gauteng province, predominantly in the Ekurhuleni district, which is East of Johannesburg. In 2010, they were honoured as the regional winners in the Education Category of the ‘JET Community Awards for School-Level Programmes of Excellence’.
18twenty’s network is a pool of educated, professional women who are established in their respective careers and are willing to be a Big Sister to one girl (or more). Big Sisters are mentors who guide and support the Little Sisters during the course of their tertiary studies by giving them exposure and concrete advice.
The basis for compatibility is the Big Sister’s profession as this is what the Little Sister aspires to pursue upon graduation. Big Sisters are invaluable because of the chronic shortage of academic and positive role-models in the communities. The beneficiaries are usually the first in their families to complete grade 12 and pursue tertiary education.
The Big Sisters are expected to commit to their Little Sisters for a year, to see their Little Sisters at least once a month and keep in touch via text messages and phone calls. The Big Sisters and their Little Sisters each pay an annual membership fee of R600 a year (or R50 a month) to be part of the organisation’s network. As a token of their commitment, 18twenty hosts a quarterly networking brunch for its Big Sisters and their Little Sisters to give an updates on their relationships.
18twenty8’s long-term objective is to finance the higher education of young women directly. The successes with this objective are:
- In 2011 the organisation successfully applied to Deutsche Bank for financial assistance for the educational expenses of two Little Sisters in the organisation. One is currently a third-year B.Ed student at the University of Johannesburg and the other is a second-year BA (Law) student. The girls’ tuition, textbooks and accommodation will be paid in full until the latter graduates in 2015. The financial assistance grant also included a new laptop for each of the girls. In 2012, Dr. Tshepo Motsepe-Ramaphosa agreed to fund the educational expenses of one Little Sister. The girl is currently doing her final year of a Bachelor of Accounting degree at Tshwane University of Technology. Her tuition, accommodation, textbooks, laptop and living allowance are being sponsored in full by Dr. Motsepe-Ramaphosa; and
- 18twenty8 provides its beneficiaries with study loans, bursaries, learnerships and job application forms and assists them with the completion and submission of these forms. Since the girls come from communities that are digitally-excluded, this is done by photocopying opportunities from various newspapers and giving these opportunities to the RCL captain in each grade as well as the heads of Life Orientation at each school. The organisation also received and forwarded several opportunities from various websites and via email – these are circulated widely through contacts on 18twenty’s email database, twitter and Facebook sites.
Why Should One Invest In 18twenty?
- 18twenty8 helps investors to save on tax because they are a tax-exempt PBO with the South African Revenue Service and they issue a S18A tax exemption certificate for the full value of all investments;
- They bolster corporate Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecards because of their Level 4 BBBEE rating and Exempted Micro Enterprise status;
- Investing in 18twenty8 ensures alignment with the Millennium Development Goals for the young women of South Africa – 18twenty8 believes that women are at the centre of socio-economic development;
- The organisation has access to a pool of diligent young women who can be accessed for learnerships, internships and employment opportunities; and
- 18twenty8 creates the scope for employees to co-facilitate its workshops as corporate volunteers and to mentor the girls by joining its Big Sister network.
To view 18twenty8 in the Prodder NGO Directory, click here.