South Africa: Using Barack Obama's Organising Model to Tackle SA's Unemployment Crisis


Organising for Work, a new volunteer-based unemployed movement, has sprung up in Cape Town's highest unemployment areas. Run at no charge for and by the unemployed, it highlights and alleviates the active discouragement employers impose on job-seekers and connects the unemployed directly to employers from where they live.

Organising for Work was launched in August 2018 in Langa, Cape Town and has since opened eight branches in high unemployment areas around the Cape Flats, trained 110 unemployed volunteers to staff them, inducted over 1,800 members and played a role in around 200 people finding work of some duration.

Branches are open to unemployed people of all ages, abilities, education and criminal records and employers can search for and contact members for free. Relying on volunteers to staff them, donated laptops and phones, and by being predominantly located in public libraries with free WiFi, branches can be opened and run at near-zero cost.

In April 2018, Luke Jordan and I started conceptualising how to catalyse a social movement around unemployment. The stats were horrifying and the daily reality of it was crushing people's lives. Those not working were facing it alone, their voices largely unheard. As one of the biggest constituencies...

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