11 Sep Levi’s Pioneer Nation feat. Refiloe Seseane
Levi’s Pioneer Nation will be celebrating doers and championing champions through an interactive, inspiring, informative and entertaining festival on the 25th of September in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The festival programme will see 40 Pioneers in various fields sharing their stories in 15-minute presentations to eager young South Africans looking to connect the dots from insight to idea to income.
Leading up to the festival, Levi’s have identified 6 Pioneers for a series of video profiles. In this edition we meet Refiloe Seseane, the founder of non-profit organization 18twenty8 – a company that provides a mentorship program for ambitious young girls between the ages of 18 and 28 from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The 2011 census showed that only 12% of South Africans have completed higher education and only 28% have completed Grade 12. Women account for 27 million of the total population of 51 million and 35% of them are unemployed versus 26% of men.
In October 2008 Refiloe set up 18twenty8, which provides exactly the type of support she would’ve benefited from at 18. “Starting 18twenty8, coming from an Economics and TV background, came with its challenges and it was daunting to make the transition to a new sector,” says Refiloe. “I was nervous, but understood that there was a need for a 100% women-led organisation for young women.”
18twenty8 develops strategies for their educational and personal development, which encourage them to view higher education as a necessary tool for their empowerment. Refiloe says, “We do this in 3 ways. (1) Interactive life-skills workshops for girls in Grade 11 and 12 at community high schools in Gauteng in consultation with the Heads of Life Orientation; (2) a mentoring programme called Big Sister that matches our beneficiaries to professional women for mentoring and support and (3) through providing financial assistance for girls to cover the costs of their university expenses.”
Besides 18Twenty8 winning the inaugural Elizabeth Arden Make a Visible Difference Awards this year, Refiloe has been honoured in her personal capacity with everything from recognition as a top Young South African by the Mail & Guardian newspaper to a Member of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative.
Look out for the next few videos and some exclusive interviews on 10and5 soon, and find out more about the Pioneer Nation 2014 festival.