Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator (HYEA) predicts that between 2021 and 2026, 6 million young people will leave school and enter the labour market. Of the 6 million,  Only 2 million will enter tertiary education or become employed while the remaining 4 million remain unemployed and reliant on informal economy income opportunities. The informal economy is broad and contains a network of many systems that are not fully understood but have the potential to create many income-generating opportunities. These include entrepreneurial opportunities, gig work, and government stipend programmes.


Those 4 million youth not in employment, education or training are the target of the ‘Make Your Own Money’ programme that was launched by Harambee in partnership with Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies in 2021. The programme is targeted at understanding the pathways to income-generating opportunities that exist in the informal sector so that these can be scaled and provide a mechanism to tackle youth employment in South Africa.


Identified income opportunities are advertised on Harambee’s platform to 1.2 million people. The platform is free to use, requires no data, and is supported by a toll-free line. Removing the cost barriers makes it an inclusive accessible platform for young people.


The programme aims to pilot a range of initiatives from WhatsApp chatbots, podcasts and financial diaries that provide the support young people need to begin their ‘Make Your Own Money’ journey. It also focuses on creating entrepreneurial-focused programmes that aim to develop and formalise microenterprises in the Early Childhood Development and Agriculture spaces. Lastly, it looks at tech platforms that allow young people to become gig workers.


Based on the lessons learnt from each of these channels, Harambee hopes to scale each initiative. This will further create greater visibility into the opportunities available, generate income for more young people and further enhance the economic activity that already exists in the informal economy.