By Frans Ntsoereng
This year, Activators from 2012-19 across the country were invited to participate in the 2nd tier impact study. This article provides insight into the socio-political force, as you go through this piece you will learn about the amazing work done by Activators, the support from authorities and communities and challenges that compromises their growth and stability.
Many Activators, if not all are voluntarily engaging in a wide range of services within their respective communities across South Africa, with the aim of driving change and transforming the lives of ordinary citizens. Activators work targets youth from the ages of 15-35 and activities range from educational services that include high school supporting programmes, agriculture, advocacy, sports, arts, and reaction.
Activators run their programmes with the aim to effect positive change in their communities by giving back, on the other hand, this is also an opportunity to grow as individuals. However, there are a number of challenges that hinder their work.
Challenges differ from one province to the other and one of the challenges includes Activators trying to address multiple challenges within their communities and running multiple interventions at the same time, which can be counterintuitive given the lack of resources available to them. Research has shown that the lack of a clear theoretical framework and implementation strategy can hinder programme effectiveness and efficiency. The lack of a clear logical framework often makes programme evaluation impossible.
Most of the Activators cannot sustain their initiatives based on funding; the majority of respondents across all the provinces are relying on personal finances to roll out their programmes. Most of the respondents feel that they lack information on funding of social projects and the processes seem cumbersome and long.
Activator Hlubikazi Sanqela, intake 2017, Eastern Cape
Activator Hlubikazi Sanqela, intake 2017 from Alice in the Eastern Cape is one of the Activators running multiple interventions. Recently Hlubikazi has started a non-profit community-based organisation that seeks to empower youth and learners.
However, there is minimal growth due to no funding.
Challenges with running more than programme include the inability to manage time and reach deadlines resulting in slow organisational growth, says Hlubikazi. One of our main challenges remains with travelling between places to beneficiaries in rural areas; our resources are very limited as we do not have funding yet. Therefore we are unable to reach out to all beneficiaries, most of the community stakeholders ask about our main activities and we unable to, continues Hlubikazi.
There are some Activators who are receiving little support from their communities, and those who feel that the members within their organisation are not committed. Some Activators feel disheartened by the lack of support they receive from their communities. Majority of the respondents run their organisations and initiatives alone, and in a few instances with the assistance of friends and relatives.
Activator Tshepo Sechele, intake 2013, Vaal South of Gauteng
Tshepo Sechele, a 2013 Activator from the South of Gauteng is one of the Activators who get no support from his community and he continues to do his work through the support of fellow Activators around the Vaal. Tshepo runs an entertainment company called BIG GAMA entertainment which does event management, sound, video and photography. Tshepo also runs literacy classes for learners in primary schools and he does this through non-profit organisations.
Some of my community members only support programmes when there is something to benefit, and if there is less to offer or nothing at all then there is no support at all, as a result it becomes challenging to get clients, says Tshepo.
Activators receive provincial funding.
In Western Cape and Mpumalanga there are respondents who received provincial government funding, particularly from the Department of Social Development. However, funding seems to be short-term and of small amounts, limiting the ability of the Activators to craft long term projects or initiatives.
Activator Elias Sello Maphoso, Mpumalanga
In Mpumalanga, Senotlelo Nkangala region, Activator Elias Sello Maphoso from cohort 2019, is also driving change in his community by teaching computer literacy, as a result, one of the beneficiaries explains that the programme is very fruitful to everyone, including village students who are now in universities. They benefited from this programme as they did not know how to use a computer.
Elias received provincial government funding. The money is used for operational purposes such as R 3 500 stipend to 5 team members, computer maintenance and payment to auditors for annual reports.
To all committed and self-driven change drivers across the country, keep on playing your part to reshape communities for the better tomorrow.