Mike Skosana grew up in a rural province of South Africa. His childhood routine was simple; he went to school, did his homework, and played with his friends on the dusty roads of his hometown, Tweefontein. However, discontented with this sense of simplicity, he sought to challenge the status quo and bring new ways of thinking to his hometown. Thinking anew, he began focusing his efforts on strengthening youth professional development and civic leadership in his community.
Mike, a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellow selected candidate, is a passionate youth professional development advocate. He is the founder of the organization Vivace Youth Centre as well as the co-founder of Crystal MG Trading and Projects. Vivace Youth Centre is a community youth center that helps young people develop career training and practical skills. They provide information about youth-related programs and work to improve the overall education level of young people. They also aim to reduce crime rates, drug and substance abuse, and gender-based violence by creating community awareness and safe spaces to discuss these issues.
As co-founder of Crystal MG Trading and Projects, Mike explains that the organization “focuses on providing digital classes for kids at the early childhood development level. The business offers digital educational training programs, concentrating on early childhood learners.”
Adding to his professional finesse, Mike is adamant about utilizing technology in his community. He says, “I am passionate about technology, which is why I have studied and own a company that teaches computer training. I serve as a computer lab specialist and deputy center manager at an organization called MAC.” In his work with Manaleni Achievement Centre (MAC), Mike helps develop future leaders within the MAC community by providing leadership skills, mentorship, life skills, computer programs, food and after-school support to underprivileged children in the community.
Although Mike has seen great success in his work, he notes that the biggest challenge facing youth mentorship efforts is the lack of resources. He explains, “Some, if not all, of the programs I work with can be expanded, but that will also require more resources and sponsorship support.”
Despite this challenge, he remains hopeful. He says, “My goal is to change and improve early childhood development in disadvantaged communities especially by introducing technology in the form of digital classes.” By giving young people access to technology, Mike explains, future generations will acquire technological skills and use this in their career development.
“Starting your own professional program is not easy, but if you start small and grow from that, things will fall into place, and young people will definitely be inspired and want to learn more,” he adds.
For Mike, a successful organization is built through its leadership. He is devoted to helping young people acquire knowledge and use technology to secure the best futures for themselves and others.
Are you interested in learning how you can be a mentor to youth? Visit our YALI4Youth page for more tools and resources.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.