Let’s Reflect on the Year of Actionable Influence

Speaking of a year of influence, we have to look at the incredible degree of influence we have garnered leading up to it. In 2022 we won the Schwab Social Innovator of the Year award, which is the pinnacle of awards for social innovation on the global stage. We have since leveraged that influence in so many ways.

We started by using it to speed up the building process for our DLab at an unprecedented rate. What usually takes most beneficiaries of the DBSA three years to complete construction, took us a single year. We are even more proud of the fact that in doing so, we turned what could have been a devastating setback, into a major win!

In spite of an unfortunate displacement, followed immediately by a two year pandemic, we started construction, as well as occupied our building, within a single year. We had one year left to allocate and apply the budget we were granted by the DBSA and we completed construction in less than a year!

The story of this triumph has inspired so many people all around the world. We have since invited groups from universities, institutions and organisations across the globe, to engage in knowledge exchanges. So much support has been born of these exchanges. They have been instrumental in our stories being heeded and forwarded.

The building has helped us reach an unprecedented amount of young people from marginalised Cape Flats communities. We have even been supremely fortunate to arrange internships for over 600 young people! And a significant number of them were even absorbed into our organisation. It’s been such a blessing to have a beautiful space in which to host and serve them.

RLabs CEO addresses organisation’s timeline and highlights to staff

With all the influx of new staff members, we once again made a serious leap in our commitment to investing in our staff member growth. Since we’ve been grooming various staff members from our earlier recruitments for leadership, we have naturally come to the realisation that RLabs SA needs a new CEO. It is simply the right time.

So this year, we officially entrusted the reins to Christine Nicola Taphel, who has since risen to the occasion and is completely revolutionising the way we operate as an organisation. Her appointment marks a full circle milestone in the life of the organisation. This affirms the tangible impact we make. She is proof that our model is effective. She was once an intern, who is now the CEO of RLabs South Africa!

And since we can confidently say that our model is sound and ready for an official expansion, we also officially set up a hub in Lagos, Nigeria. We have been operating in the Yaba Precinct since August this year, and our team has been making waves out there! They need little to no guidance to build beneficial corporate relationships and recruit their own volunteers. They have since even recruited more than 600 beneficiaries for our Skills Accelerator programme.

In line with the full-circle motif, our influence was used to set them up with a few major networks, and now they are in turn, using their own influence quite exponentially – they are out there demonstrating our values.

Another major win for this year occurred right here at home with our Recha programme. It is an initiative which addresses the problem of diminishing landfill sites and the looming issue of runaway pollution. It simultaneously addresses the undignified means by which waste collectors earn a living. The solution is a network of community members tasked with setting up waste collection centres around the pilot community of Mitchell’s Plain. Their mission is to divert that waste away from landfills, while turning waste collectors into entrepreneurs.

Recha Programme: Recycling Champions

We have also set up various other major community impact initiatives and benefitted from some unique, new relationships, as you will soon learn. We leveraged our influence in radio to boost the Westridge Tourism Precinct. The tourism precinct is also being promoted via our all new television mini-series called Brews and Views. We have also come to the end of our latest RevUp Women programme and recently hosted the graduation ceremony and pitch night.

At the beginning of this year we asked: “What will we do with the influence we have amassed? Who’s character, development and behaviour will we positively affect using our influence this year? And what message will our actions convey on a daily basis?” And it is clear that we have been successful and are quickly building on the success of this year.

We hope this makes for an inspiring final note to your year, and that you go into your holiday season feeling satisfied with your contribution to a momentous 2023!

We thank you kindly, and wish you a rather early, but nonetheless cheery, Merry Christmas and a bright-eyed, hopeful, and Happy New Year.

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