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SOWETO-BASED ILAB MAKING BIG STRIDES IN BOOSTING COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

Anita Nkonki | 6 February 2023


Johannesburg - Thato Moteka and Theodore Sibeko’s willingness to share their knowledge has been a saving grace for Soweto locals.


Their journey began in a driveway, which later saw the establishment of the Information Literacy Arts Booth Foundation (iLab Foundation), a training centre that offers various courses to the community for free.


The iLab Foundation started small with food and clothing packages for those in need, but soon matured into a small ICT hub aimed at upskilling youth and adults for free.


Founded in 2019, Sibeko had the vision to improve the lives of South Africans and the desire to create a self-sustainable and self-reliant community.


Sibeko explains that it all started in his grandmother’s driveway and later saw them graduate a considerable number of students.


"We were offered my grandma's driveway, which we used to start upskilling students with our two personal laptops and a tablet; this saw us graduate 18 students from Diepkloof Zone 6 Hostel, a first for Soweto," says Sibeko.


Their willpower also drove them to approach FUNDA CEO Motsumi Makhene for assistance in sourcing a space suitable for hosting more students.


Makhene agreed to authorise the couple to use the FUNDA space, and once it had been cleaned up, they were ready to hit the ground running with their training initiatives.


"We primarily use our space and tap into open-source programmes and free accredited course lessons in creativity and design, coding and robotics, and renewable energy. Also our technical courses: cellphone repair technician and digital terrestrial television technician.


“We believe that people, especially from our community and other communities of similar backgrounds, have not been properly exposed to these types of courses because they are normally pricey. That's where we come in because we offer these courses for free," explains Sibeko.


The ILAF has also hosted several events, such as the June 16 event, the Heritage Day Indigenous Games Festival, and the Don Mattera commemoration, and facilitated the Steve Biko seminar with Andile WamoAfrica.


After graduating 42 young people in 2022, the pair have set themselves a target of 300 learners for 2023.


ILAF is appealing for financial assistance to install solar power to mitigate the effects of load shedding and expand their ICT resources, as well as offer their staff some form of remuneration.


‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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