Press Statement

Release: Immediate

The Digital Financial and Economic Inclusion for Youth (DFE4Y) Platform will leverage the power of technology and partnerships to address the youth unemployment challenge in South Africa

4,000 youth will transition into sustainable livelihoods

Cape Town, July 6, 2016 – Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) today announced an investment of 2,000,000 Rand to the Digital Financial and Economic Inclusion for Youth (DFE4Y) Platform in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. The innovative digitally-enabled reward platform will support the transition of 4,000 youth living in peri-urban and township communities in Cape Town, South Africa into sustainable livelihoods.

South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate in the world for people between the ages of 15 to 24. More than 50 percent of young South Africans are unemployed. This is called “the lost generation” and many of them are unable to find jobs due to a lack of education, experience and financial means.

The platform offers youth the opportunity to participate as volunteers in social and economic activities such as tutoring children, cleaning schools and participating in internships with local organizations, in exchange for digital rewards called ‘Zlto’.  These rewards can be redeemed to access livelihood supports and opportunities such as transportation, toiletries, food supplies and training toolkits offered by the project’s partners.

“Young people, by engaging in community work, earn and accumulate Zlto,” says Marlon Parker, RLabs Founder. “In other words, while accessing these training and development opportunities youth earn digital rewards and build a work resume, allowing them to access higher levels of opportunities such as formal jobs, education, access to small business finance or financial services.”

Via the platform, youth are supported to transition into opportunities which are exchangeable with the accumulated Zlto. Opportunities include training, coaching, mentorship, business development services, internships and access to financial services. This range of opportunities is offered by RLabs and other partners such as local training providers and colleges, businesses and NGOs.

“The DFE4Y Platform is helping to tackle the youth employment challenge, particularly for those who are disconnected, excluded and discouraged because of a long unsuccessful job search,” says Koffi Assouan, Program Manager, Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation.  “This project will improve the livelihoods of out-of-school and low-income youth by providing them with the tools and training they need to successfully secure employment opportunities.”

Since 2015, over 7,600 youth have earned 20,000,000 Zlto and completed over 100,000 community hours.  The platform has enabled young people to learn about digital payments and budgeting, leading to financial literacy, and allowed them to build a credible history of work that they can use as references while seeking jobs.

RLabs and The MasterCard Foundation are leveraging partnerships and technology to enable and sustain economic opportunities for out-of-school, unemployed, under-employed, discouraged and low-income youth. This is all done via the DFE4Y platform through mobile and e-based applications.



Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) is a global movement and registered Social Enterprise that provides innovative solutions to address various complex problems. It was founded by Marlon Parker in 2008 as an environment for community driven innovation and reconstruction. RLabs creates an environment where people are empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. The RLabs “main hub” is in Athlone, Cape Town but have activity in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Its core activities are skills and training, community development, social and disruptive innovation, mobile and internet solutions, social enterprise incubation, impact investing and social franchising. For more information, please visit or follow @RLabs on Twitter.



The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit Follow the Foundation at @MCFoundation on Twitter.


Media Enquiries:

Adrienne Fredericks

Media Liaison, RLabs

(T) +27216991453



Kirsty Tomkinson

Communications Associate, The MasterCard Foundation

(T) +14162141426


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    Thank Youo

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