Since July 2022 Awarenet has been part of the Social Employment Fund – a government initiative to give previously unemployed people a chance to do socially meaningful work in non profit organisations across South Africa. Awarenet’s long-time funder the Learning Trust has been instrumental in realising this opportunity as it identified Awarenet to be one of its 24 implementing partners for its nationwide Catch-Up Coalition, which aims to support educational recovery in South Africa after the devastating effects of Covid-19.
Awarenet administer around 250 local people who previously have been unemployed and place them in 16 non profit organisations in Makhanda. This includes Awarenet itself which currently has 44 people working for its organisation through the Social Employment Fund in its Robotics, Core Group, Open Lab and Talking Technology to Power programs.
The Social Employment Fund is open to all previously unemployed people between 18 and 60 years old though due to the sky-high youth unemployment in South Africa the majority of those employed are in their twenties.
The participants in the Social Employment Fund work part-time 60 – 80 hours per month and receive the legal minimum wage from the government. In a community where one of the main challenges is the high unemployment rate the infusion of these wages makes a difference to livelihoods and life quality.
The work of participants also makes a huge difference in 16 non profit organisations across Makhanda as the labour capacity of many of the organisations are increased manifold. Participants are involved in a variety of tasks involving children and youth such as helping with homework, tutoring subjects from maths, conducting sport and outdoor activities, supporting child welfare interventions, cleaning rivers and streams with school learners and cooking in food relief programs to just mention a few. The participants are also doing administrative tasks in the non profit organisations freeing up permanent staff members to concentrate on the core tasks of their organisations. In short the Social Employment Fund program has lead to an infusion of energy into the non profit sector in Makhanda.