In the third quarter of 2018, South Africa's youth unemployment rate declined – from 53.70% to 52.80%. And appropriate credentials and work experience are often cited by young South Africans as their top challenge when trying to get into the job market.
That is the problem Cape Town-based social start-up Zlto hopes to solve with an approach based on mobile phones and the blockchain technology that underpins crypto currencies such as bitcoin, plus a little financial help from Google.
Zlto is an initiative by local NGO Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs), and its mission is to get young people involved in their communities as a stepping stone towards employment.
Volunteer work can range from cleaning up the environment to paining a dilapidated public building.
Users clock in by taking a "before" photo of the particular activity and uploading it onto the Zlto app, and doing the same thing with an "after" photo once the job is done. The work experience gained is recorded in a blockchain ledger, making it transparent and easy to verify. Meanwhile, the voluntary work done is also rewarded in Zlto's digital currency, which can be spent at either Mr Price on clothes or over 1,000 Shoprite stores on groceries or even airtime – one of the major expenses for those actively seeking work.
"It’s been nearly 2 years since Zlto went mobile and in that time we’ve seen over 25,000 young people register, becoming intentional about impacting their communities and being the change they wish to see in the communities," says Zlto.
The app was recently named one of the winners of $250,000 (about R3.5 million) from Google in its Impact Challenge competition that seeks to invest in startups that use tech to tackle societal issues.
A beneficiary and ambassador of Zlto, Allan van der Meulen, tells Business Insider South Africa that the social startup intends on using the R3.5 million cash prize to expand beyond its current reach in the Cape Town region to other parts of South Africa.
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