The SEED Community was founded in 2011 to provide higher educational opportunities for girls and women from challenging economic backgrounds in developing countries through affordable loan programmes. At SEED, our objective is to create the opportunity for girls to take the future into their own hands and at the same time plant the seeds for somebody else’s future and growth.
We are working in South Africa with girls at the grass roots level offering interest free, higher education loans and work opportunities through our SEED School Mentoring Programme. Our community support structure provides a framework for girls to complete their studies, repay their loans, and be independent, active contributors to society.
We do not view the funding for the girls’ education in isolation, but rather as part of a broader social context. However bright, capable and motivated the girls are, many face social and economic difficulties preventing them from entering and/or completing their higher education for a variety of reasons, including the following:
Every 27 seconds a girl in South Africa is raped.
More than 20% of school kids are HIV positive.
Nearly one fifth of South African children live in orphan-headed households, according to a Statistics SA (www.statssa.gov.za)
A girl born in South Africa has a 1 in 3 chance of completing secondary school.
SEED Community seeks to address these challenges. With realities such as these standing between women and their independence and empowerment, we believe a standard education is not enough to bring about sufficient social or economic change. As a response, we established the SEED School Mentoring Programme to bring continuing and higher educational opportunities to the reach of girls and women who otherwise could not afford such education.
In return for sponsorship of their loans, SEED students work as mentors in a formal capacity with school learners and tertiary students in the inner city of Johannesburg. They provide positive and creative solutions to the issues students face, helping them to make informed choices in life. We believe children need to be given a voice and the ability to share their stories in a safe environment and to discuss issues that matter to them, enabling them to recognize the potential they hold and their ability to fulfill their goals. The mentoring programme offers this opportunity for the mentees, allowing them not only to receive guidance but also share their opinions, concerns and thoughts with their mentors.
Under the guidance of Nikki Florence, who has been working as a mentor with youth groups for over 20 years, the SEED students currently mentor learners from grade 6 offering continued support until matriculation and beyond to tertiary level. The objective is for each SEED student to mentor learners at a ratio of 1:12. With time, those learners will in turn mentor junior learners at the same ratio.
So far the results are encouraging. It has been a journey of learning for both the SEED girls and the school learners participating in the programme. Most importantly, the experience has generated discussions and dialogues between the participants who are now recognizing that they not only have a voice, but a loud one that can carry far and create substantial change.
We hope you continue to follow our work and hear these voices, as they are only bound to get louder and stronger.