Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

19 April 2013

Namibia: Marlon Parker Launches Rlabs Namibia

Founded in the notorious Cape Flats in Cape Town, South Africa in 2008, the Reconstructed Living Lab famously known as the RLabs is a global movement that provides innovative solutions to address various complex problems.

Founder of RLabs, Marlon Parker was in Namibia this week to officially launch Namibia's version of the RRabs at the Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC). The launch is the culmination of a journey that began almost five years ago when discussions began on how to bring the RLabs programme to Namibia.

The RLabs programme is aimed at unemployed youth who want to equip themselves with skills on how to use popular social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With the knowledge they gain at the RLabs workshops, they can become trainers on social media or social media marketers. The training also encourages the students to start their own business by applying their new skills.

"There is no criteria to participate in any of the RLabs workshops, you just have to be unemployed, have time to attend all sessions and always smile," said Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs.

Since the RLabs concept was first introduced in Namibia, over 50 students have graduated with valuable social media skills that they are now utilising for their own gain.

One such graduate is Asnath Kambunga who attended one of the first training sessions offered by RLabs. After graduating she became a consultant for Xwama Cultural Village and Traditional Restaurant and is now the RLabs Namibia coordinator.

"The youth should utilise the opportunity that RLabs Namibia is providing. Not only do they learn valuable social media skills, they also get an opportunity to become self-employed," she said.

Marlon Parker could not hide his excitement at the milestones that Namibia has achieved. He emphasised that previous students will get an opportunity to apply for an advanced course to further their knowledge in October through a partnership that RLabs has with the University of Cape Town. This comes with a full scholarship.

In encouraging the Namibian youth, Parker said unemployed youth should not lose hope. He left them with the quote by Nelson Mandela saying "It's always impossible until it's done".

RLabs creates an environment where people are empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. The RLabs "main hub" is in Athlone, Cape Town but have activities in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa with the goal of reaching all continents by 2014.

Its core activities are skills and training, community development, social and disruptive innovation, mobile and internet solutions, social enterprise incubation, impact investing and social franchising.

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