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Momentum Metropolitan Foundation and the Lulalab Foundation collaborate to address youth unemployment

The Momentum Metropolitan Foundation (MMF) has partnered with the non-profit Lulalab Foundation to roll out a scalable youth employability and small-to-medium enterprise (SME) booster impact assessment study. This project aligns with the current imperative to create new jobs within the SME sector.  The study will provide the funder (MMF) with empirical evidence on the impact of diverting internship funding to placements within the SME sector for quantifiable job creation, skills development, and SME growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent riots in the country has led to further job losses and much uncertainty for young job-seekers and small business owners. Youth Unemployment Rate in South Africa increased to 64.40 percent in the second quarter of 2021 from 63.30 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

 The project aims to provide extra resources for SMEs to get their businesses back on track and give young job-seekers the chance to gain experience and long-term employment through internships. This is a proven pathway to sustainable opportunities, with skilled, tested and experienced candidates. 

While the country’s young people faced challenges such as high levels of unemployment and poverty before the pandemic hit – and those challenges remain – the pandemic accelerated and added obstacles that make it difficult for South Africa’s youth to achieve success. This programme aims to implement an intensive, targeted intervention that will help provide unemployed youth obtain working experience that they wouldn’t have ordinarily been able to attain – this pilot study will give 80 youngsters a boost at launching successful careers,” says Nkosinathi Mahlangu, Portfolio Head for Youth Employment at Momentum Metropolitan Foundation (MMF).

The Youth Employability and SME Booster Impact Assessment Study project has received support from MMF to place 80 unemployed SA youths on 12-month internships within +/-30 small businesses, over two years. This aims to stimulate SME growth through providing the businesses with human capital resources, already funded by a third party.  This will increase company outputs, service delivery and efficiencies, as well as, addressing the youth unemployment crisis in South Africa.  At the end of the project Lulalab will be able to quantify the impact on permanent absorption of interns after their internships have finished and, assess the perceptual impact of internship on business growth.


Internships are recognized as one of the best mechanisms available to stimulate job creation and are an effective means to promote the inclusion of unemployed, inexperienced youth into the formal economy, further bolstering social development. This initiative has simultaneously encouraged small businesses to offer internships, thus contributing to decreasing the levels of youth unemployment in the country.

Errol Freeman, CEO of the Lulalab Foundation has expressed that, “Small to medium sized businesses can be a valuable part of the unemployment solution in South Africa — by offering real life work experience to young people, they are actively participating in job creation”. A country with increased levels of employment fairs better on all fronts. Increased spending power means a thriving economy and a more optimistic life for all citizens. Small businesses who host interns can increase their operational capacity and profitability, thereby increasing the likelihood of creating even more jobs in the long-term.

Call to action

Freeman continues, “Together we are actively looking for co-funders to work with us to accelerate inclusive youth employment and stimulate small business growth in South Africa. We invite funders and corporates to get in touch.  With your help we can increase project scale to place additional youths in SMEs, in order to scale project outcomes and increase sample size for better resultant impact metrics”.

Both Lulalab and the MMF are confident that if this model were to be replicated at scale, it could achieve systemic change in the way internships are managed and create effective, inclusive pathways to jobs for inexperienced youths.  This would provide a desperately needed boost to small businesses that, at scale, can have a significant impact on South Africa’s GDP growth, further stimulating the economy and creating even more jobs.

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