Just recently our CEO, Rene Parker, attended the prestigious World Economic Forum Annual Meeting to receive an award from the Schwab Foundation, on behalf of our organisation, as Social Innovator of the Year 2022. What a perfect opportunity to expand our capacity to share hope with the underserved.
The theme for this year’s meeting, in light of the recent pandemic and the already dire circumstances it has exacerbated, was Transformation Through Trust. In light of this, she said: “The world is in dire need of healing, and rebuilding trust and hope.”
The award is based on the work we do on the Cape Flats – a notorious, but wonderful adventure of a region, within view of the fabled Table Mountain range. There exists a unique set of persistent challenges that none but its inhabitants can truly understand.
Our method of sharing hope is to enable and facilitate the community’s ability to define the real issues faced, find their solutions, and through the success of this process, visualise hope. Affected community members, “are the problem experts,” – Rene Parker.
The potential for great solutions to the debilitating problems our communities face is endless. What communities need are the resources, enabling environments, and guidance to effectively scale their solutions. The raw ability, talent and sheer drive to get it done are a given.
As RLabs, this is where we act as the bridge to the trust gap and allow community members to explore their skills, experiment with solutions and transform their realities.
Another way she puts it is that people are our world’s most underutilised resource. So, in a more practical sense, it is our goal to unlock their potential through the development of systems, enabling environments and empathetic communities based on trust.
The purpose is to enable them to impact others, as we have impacted them, which extends our work beyond what we alone can accomplish.
In practice, it is the facilitation and support of young entrepreneurs like Aphiwe, who says: “RLabs has been behind me all the way. They’ve been helping me with resources, platforms and opportunities to grow my business.” Her business, Thinkd, helps young entrepreneurs develop professional brand aesthetics so they can be perceived more favourably in the marketplace.
Like many beneficiaries of RLabs, she was able to hone the necessary skills, gain confidence and build solutions to the problems she understands better than most. In doing so, she can inspire others to take a chance on themselves and help us compound our collective reach.
Or like Allan, a social entrepreneur, who is now independently driving change with his startup. “At Zlto,” he says, “we are going to invest, not just in the lives of young people, but in the beliefs of young people.” They reward young people for volunteering and even personal development.
So, earning this award not only signifies the culmination of our collective organisational impact thus far but opens up the possibility of impacting communities at an unprecedented scale.
It extends the possibility of transforming more community members, like Aphiwe and Allan to start organisations like RLabs, Thinkd or Zlto – through relationships built on trust.