Description: Unemployment in South Africa has hit a high of 40% and the most visible of the unemployed are men who stand on the side of the road every day, waiting for work. There are 500 places in South Africa called "job sites," where people are picked up for casual labour on an hourly or daily basis. The ages of the men vary from sixteen to sixty-five, all unemployed and desperate to find work. The project was launched in 1999. Partnerships were formed with various Provincial Departments of Social Services, and various other Local Governments. Partners provide funding to set up the tool depots and provide land where necessary. The Provincial Department of Labour in the Western Cape funds vocational training with registered service providers.
Once trained the unemployed gain employment via a placement service. Small business development training is ongoing and those with potential are provided with tools to start their own small businesses (construction, carpentry, gardening, mechanical repairs, and drivers). The project has been so successful to date that some of the unemployed are now in management and training positions. The federation/union lobbies to meet the needs of the unemployed. Due to its successes the project has expanded to five provinces.
Innovation: This is the first project of its kind in South Africa and is the first to organise the unemployed into a federation. It also has a very successful placement programme, which protects the workers from being exploited, as was the norm in the past.
Effectiveness: Thus far 50 000 tools have been donated and the unemployed are employed to fix them. These tools are loaned to them to start their own small business. To date 20 small businesses (cleaning, garden services, collection of tools, repair of tools, etc) have been established. The project also provides tools in the townships through two retail outlets, while 3000 tools have been sold to enable people to maintain their homes or create business opportunities. The federation comprises 1500 members. The demand for workers trained by the project is so high that the project is unable to meet the needs of the market. Since its inception, 800 people have received training and 90% have become employed.
Poverty Impact: An estimated 2000 people have been empowered through the federation and the training courses, while well over 600 people are able to provide for the needs of their families.
Sustainability: The project has secure funding from government and the ongoing needs of the unemployed and corporate sponsors suggest that its sustainability is guaranteed for at least the next three years.
Replication: The model is easy to follow and implement, and is cost effective.