Participants rebuilding a wall at the Julius Sebolai Primary School in Braamfischerville, Soweto.

South Africa’s youth unemployment rate remains high at a staggering 65.5%. Marginalised and disadvantaged youth in Townships often bear the brunt, and the situation is direr for those not in education, employment and training. 

YouthBuild’s Faranani Infrastructure Development project provides a lifeline to 100 youth from Soweto. Faranani, which means ‘working together’ in Tshivenda, is a 12-month project supported by the Trevor Noah Foundation. The project provides life skills, vocational training in civil and building construction skills, work readiness and leadership development. This gives youth who are not in employment and not in education (NEET) much-needed work experience.

Since its inception in 2021, 26 participants secured work, education and other opportunities before graduating. The remaining 74 participants will graduate at the end of April. All participants have been equipped with valuable skills and accredited qualifications, including an NQF Level 2 SHE Representative certificate, a NQF level 3 certificate in building and civil construction and an NQF level 4 certificate in plumbing.

YouthBuild Director, Oupa Tshabalala, says he is proud of the pilot cohort for completing the intensive year-long programme. “I am proud of the achievements made by the youth who were part of the project. Even though we lost 26 enrollees during the program, I’m happy that most of them left the program for better opportunities. We wish all our 2021 graduates the best as they navigate new opportunities for the future.”



In addition to gaining accredited certificates, participants gain valuable work experience by helping uplift communities that need work on infrastructure, such as six primary schools renovated in Soweto. The schools involved in the pilot project include JB Marks Primary, Moses Kotane Primary, Nkone Maruping Primary, Khula-Nolwazi Primary and Nomzamo Madikizela Primary. The schools needed repairs or maintenance work for leaking ceilings, damaged walls, broken plumbing, and electrical work.


Project Coordinator Athania Lepota says the initiative came at an ideal time for Soweto. “This project gave a lot of young people hope. At least 10% of the participants have already secured employment or started small businesses, including young women who are not interested in the construction industry. I am very excited about our future projects and the opportunities Faranani will give the youth.”


The Trevor Noah Foundation is equally proud of the 2021 cohort. Executive Director Shalane Yuen says the Foundation will continue to support the project in other communities.  “As a collaborative effort, the between Trevor Noah Foundation, YouthBuild, the beneficiary schools, local community stakeholders and the youth participants, the success of Faranani is truly a win-win for all involved. I’m so proud that we worked together to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for youth deserving of new skills, work experience, and hope. Their achievements and resilience inspire me to scale the program so we can provide similar opportunities for as many youths as possible.”


Since its inception in 2016, YouthBuild SA has impacted over 3 500 young people, including persons with disabilities. The skills and accredited qualifications gained from our programmes have helped our young people become economically active while allowing participants to become active members of their communities.