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When Ahmed Ismael, founding Director at Siyafunda Community Technology Centres (CTC), recently sent me an email saying that his organization had received a special award from the TT100 Business Awards Programme, I can’t say I was surprised.  For the past year or so, I’ve been writing about the great work his organization has achieved, and it’s a well-deserved accolade.

Sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology in South Africa, the TT100 Programme recognizes companies focused on developing a local culture of technological innovation and excellence. Derek Hanekom, the Minister of Science & Technology, (fourth from the left, next to Ismael, at right), was on hand to present the special award to Siyafunda CTC. Ismael told me that the awards committee was most amazed by the results of his organization’s collaborative model.

“They were very impressed with what we’ve achieved by partnering with stakeholders from government agencies, academia, communities, and private enterprise. Together, we’re filling a gap by providing access to technology for development and training that leads to jobs. It’s real social innovation.”

The TT100 award is a nice capstone to 2013 for this innovative South African organization that brings affordable training and development to disadvantaged youth. With donations and volunteer support from founding partner SAP, Siyafunda CTC now has Community Knowledge Centres across South Africa's nine provinces from urban townships to rural communities. They’ve opened over 75 training Centres throughout the country, created 240 employment opportunities for centre management, trained over 150,000 community members, and developed 10 social entrepreneurs. Knowledge sharing is at the heart of its mission. Many trainees have gone on to open and manage Centres themselves, opening doors to opportunities for others in their communities. In this YouTube video, Ismael provides a quick overview of what they’re all about.

On the horizon for 2014 are plans to replicate the centre’s model in additional rural communities across the Free State province. One objective is to align business and technology education efforts with the e-Skills Institute (e-SI), a South African government-sponsored collaboration between the public and private sector. In addition, to address the shortage of in-country experts, Community Knowledge Centres will be accredited for SAP training. They will also have access to SAP Business All-in-One software in the cloud for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) capabilities, including embedded analytics to track trainee outcomes.

During this season of giving, Siyafunda CTC stands out for its accomplishments that impact communities throughout the year. This recent award acknowledges its focus on social entrepreneurship, promoting socio-economic development that helps people lead better lives. We can only expect more great work in the New Year. Happy holidays to everyone!

Follow me @smgaler

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