The Learning Lunch podcast explores ideas, approaches and social innovations – creating opportunity for non-profit organisations’ teams to discover what others are learning and space to reflect on what these insights might mean for their own strategy and programme implementation.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, social employment emerged as one of the levers that could stimulate the country’s economic recovery. As part of a host of interventions that form part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus, the South African government sought to centre and support the work already being done by civil society organisations to enable community-driven solutions to local problems through a Social Employment Fund (SEF). This kind of work includes health and caregiving work, food security and nutrition, youth support and recreation, community safety and interventions to stem gender-based violence, among others. Typically, these are activities that contribute to the “common good” rather than private goods and services.

In November 2021, civil society organisations applied to be part of the SEF. By 2022, 28 ‘Strategic Implementing Partners’ (also known as SIPs) were chosen from various parts of the country. In its pilot phase, the Social Employment Fund sought to create 50 000 work opportunities in a range of sectors as diverse as education support and infrastructure development. The work opportunities created by the stimulus package must contribute to work for the common good and should be accessible to unemployed people without formal education or prior work experience.

In this podcast, we explore the concept of social employment, what civil society organisations have learned about driving social employment, and what it will take for greater public investment in social employment initiatives. We are joined by Katie Huston, Head of Research, Innovation and Impact at Nal’ibali, Sibongile Khumalo Executive Director of the Learning Trust and Andrew Boraine, CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership.

Katie Huston is the Head of Research, Innovation and Impact at Nal’ibali. She is interested in how to motivate, equip and enable parents to take steps that support children’s literacy development, like reading bedtime stories regularly, making reading materials available to kids, and role modelling reading themselves. She’s also interested in how to design high-quality, low-cost reading materials in ways that encourage behaviour change (and distribute them as widely as possible), and how to build mass media campaigns and digital platforms that can achieve the same. She has degrees in Journalism, Social Anthropology and Global Political Economy.

Sibongile Khumalo holds a Master of Science degree and has over 14 years of experience in the non-profit sector, including managing After School programmes, leading organisational operations and heading a youth development organisation.

Andrew Boraine is CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership. He has more than 35 years’ experience of working in the public sector in South Africa, and has been a driving force behind the establishment of several important institutions working in and with the nation’s cities.   

Here are some complementary bites to make your meal even tastier


Read a document on partnerships developed by the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (WCEDP). Partnering and collaboration has been the WCEDP’s core business over the past decade, and they have accumulated many different partnering lessons learnt through trial and error, listening to our partners, codifying our methodologies, and practicing the ‘EDP way’.

Their Partnering Framework combines theoretical and systems knowledge with practical tools and instructions grounded in experience, allowing them to guide people and their organisations on journeys of change for the benefit of all society. They share their top ten lessons as an intermediary organisation.