The Silibona Story – Changing Lives Through Education in South Africa

The Silibona Story – Changing Lives Through Education in South Africa

“Whenever I go back to South Africa I meet with the people who are really trying to make a difference. Whether it is one person’s life, an environmental issue or a social challenge, everyone feels like they are trying to develop and move their country forward. For me, it is so inspiring.”  – Nela Forejtova, Head of EMEA Team at ISP

That is where Silibona comes in…

Yaw Peprah is a co-founder of Silibona Educational Trust, an initiative set up to help young, disadvantaged people in South Africa who have the potential, but not the means, to progress further with their lives. We met for the first time in Cape Town when I was there with colleagues from ISP. He mentioned his work with Silibona and was enraged, yet enthralled by the #feesmustfall campaign. The movement started in 2015 to oppose the dramatic rise of tuition fees. It travelled from one campus to the next and then onto a nationwide issue. This movement was extremely powerful, because a lot of people affected were the poor and disadvantaged – the people who could not fund their education. Not only did the government cut their funding, but it lowered any sort of chance for them to make a change for themselves.


“Education not only allows us to realise our potential, but it gives us the belief in ourselves.” (Yaw Peprah, Silibona Educational Trust)


Yaw told his network: “If we’re going to always rely on the government or big corporations to make those changes, nothing’s going to happen. So, let’s start something.” So, Yaw established Silibona Trust together with fellow co-founder, Clinton Martin. They both believe that for South Africa to move successfully forward society needs to address the high rate of unemployment amongst the youth, and education is key to this.

It is also the acknowledgement that they matter as well. It is the realisation that we can help each other form communities and that person can influence others in ten or twenty years. You can create a chain reaction. That for me is beautiful and why I wanted to become involved with Silibona.


“Education is an incredibly powerful tool – it not only gives people the skills they need but also the confidence.” (Clinton Martin, Silibona Educational Trust)


For now, I am mainly a donor. Each donor makes a commitment for four years, so we help the candidates during their whole education, not just for one year. I am keen to enter into the mentorship program, but it is quite a commitment seeing as I am living abroad. I currently manage Silibona’s LinkedIn page, while I helped create the logo for Silibona in the beginning. The branches of the tree in the logo symbolise the chain reaction that Silibona facilitates. 

The work with Silibona closely corresponds to ISPs values. I realised that not only it is ISP’s purpose, but my purpose as well. I absolutely identified with that.

The impact starts with ‘I’. It all comes from that understanding of who you are as a person, whether you want to make an impact and how you are going to do it. For me, it is the willingness to take that step and jump out of your comfort zone, because you see the potential value. It is about not believing in the entitlement to immediate success and showing how strongly you believe in the goal that you set for yourself.

You are making an impact outside of your own bubble and that is apparent here. You can create that chain reaction – whether it is your own community or a community you are interested in – you are still making that impact.


“It is that realisation that you make in yourself that whatever you do, it is those little things that make a difference, that make an impact.” (Nela Forejtova, ISP) 


Looking ahead, there is potential scope for ISP and Silibona to work together. If there is any chance for ISP to sponsor one internship – we could get one of the candidates here for an internship – to give them the opportunity to broaden their mindset and cultural experiences. Any exposure for an initiative like that is huge.

With love from Nela



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