Theme #5: Communities


An Innovative Way to Address Unemployment

With record-high unemployment levels and expensive data costs creating a barrier to entry for many job seekers, South Africans need new ways to bring opportunities to people and to connect them with potential employers. A group of public-spirited researchers at REGENT Business School’s iLeadLab facility has developed a practical and innovative solution: the MAHALABox.

“Mahala” means “free” in isiZulu, and the MAHALABox lives up to its name. It provides free access to online resources such as recruitment agencies, job placements, and skills development tools like aptitude tests, CV templates, and downloadable books and videos. All that is needed is a smartphone – no data or internet access is required.

Dr Ridwaan Asvat, REGENT Business School’s Operations Director

"The MAHALABox is our way of bringing important skills and resources to students, the unemployed, and the youth in local communities. We hope that, by providing such a solution, we can bring better opportunities to people who need them.”
Dr Ridwaan Asvat

Here’s how it works:

Each MAHALABox contains a small computer. Employers, recruitment agencies, corporate entities, government departments, and tertiary education institutions can create content that is housed on the MAHALABox network. A MAHALABox generates its own wifi signal, and anyone with a smartphone can connect to it and interact with the network without needing data. With nearly 60 million smartphones in use in South Africa every day, it’s a practical and accessible way to connect people with information.

According to Sizwe Madikizela, one of the lead designers of the MAHALABox, another big plus is the fact that the MAHALABox uses sustainable solar energy.  >>read more


Learn to Earn ( is a skills development and job creation organization, primarily targeting unemployed people. Their aim is to eradicate unemployment and other legacies of injustice in South Africa. Since 1989, Learn to Earn has trained more than 13 583 unemployed people with market-related skills. Their skills development and training centers are based in the vibrant Khayelitsha and the seaside town of Hermanus.

For the past few years, R&Y has been involved with Learn to Earn students on the Graphic Design Bridging Course. Lecturers regularly host creative workshops for these talented young people, some of whom are awarded bursaries to study further at R&Y.
>>read more