Earlier this month on March 10th, I finally returned to the Innovation Hub (iHub) in Philippi Village, the location we first launched for the Western Cape (WC) province in August, 2019. Feeling settled and acclimated to life back in Cape Town, it was great to get back “into the saddle”, doing what I love in helping this amazing iHub vision continue to grow and develop as a program that truly changes lives in unlocking potential and providing opportunities for young adults to participate in the global digital economy, thereby transforming the trajectory of their lives and family forever.
There were 14 new ladies and gentlemen to meet as the WC 2021 cohort launched their phase 1 training program on February 8th. It’s a great mix of 6 ladies and 8 men, passionate to learn and follow their dreams to get access to a digital skills career that, without the iHub’s help would probably never get off the ground and remain only a dream.
As I shared my greetings to the new cohort, gave them a little of my background and highlighted some of the benefits of the program, I couldn’t help but notice that their black faces were all looking back at me from behind masks – the same view we’ve all grown accustomed to regardless of where one is in the world today. The Coronavirus pandemic has hit South Africa very hard, following an extremely rigid 12 week lockdown the economy, which was already in recession, has worsened further, driving unemployment rates for this age group of 18-35’s well above 70%! All the more reason to invest in programs like the iHub that is making access to training that will bring about an accelerated opportunity to apply for a well-paying, digital job; which will be a game changer and hopefully break them and their family out of a generational cycle of poverty and hopelessness.
I look forward to rolling up my sleeves as I focus on a new role for me as Executive Advisor to Hillsong Africa Foundation – iHub Operating Model Architect. I’ll have the opportunity to continue working with some old team members, like Stephanie Arandse, a fellow Canadian shown in the above picture leading the new cohort through a lesson on “integrated learning” which wraps up each week with a creative project that helps the students bring together what they’ve learned in the past week in Digital, Leadership, and Soft Skills training. And there are several new team members to get to know as well on the core leadership team for the program . I’ll be accountable for iHub’s overall operating strategy and delivery framework, integration of its training streams and curriculum, assessment and learning models, learning management system, and growth roadmap as we take what is still a proof-of-concept in its second year, scale it up and launch new satellite hubs across the nation and God willing in time, across the continent. It’s an amazing opportunity and I welcome your prayers and support as I take on this key leadership and influencing role in the months ahead.
As I drive home each time from the iHub, passing through the Philippi township, I’m reminded of the reality of what life is like for our students when they go back to their homes. I am so thankful and privileged to be able to focus these “retirement” years of Sonya’s and my life here in helping make a difference in lives and families that otherwise have little hope for a better future. Our students are passionate and willing to work hard to make the most of an amazing opportunity to see their potential unlocked, dreams come true, and create value for themselves, their families and their communities.