The JumpStart Schools

Our Story

It was a bittersweet learning curve of success and disappointment but, little by little, it began to bear fruit.

In 2002 we began to apply our experience in software, education and business development to a social outreach initiative amongst disadvantaged young South Africans. This has evolved into what we refer to as the JumpStart programme today.

We deploy programs at schools, in skills development and small business development. Our emphasis is in mathematics and technology.

Here's how it started...


We started a Software Programming School for non-graduates. That was in 2002. We called this the Jumpstart Software Labs. Over the years many young South Africans have achieved industry certifications in  meaningful vendor technologies and subsequent employment into the ICT services sector. After a decade the Jumpstart Software Lab is now a registered SETA program and incubates software engineers in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Lab processes about 60+ learners a year.

But that is not the whole story, there was more to be done.

While working in youth development programs in Johannesburg we became aware of the challenges encountered by learners in some of the disadvantaged schools on the West Rand. These schools were overcrowded, under resourced, unruly, often violent and of a poor educational standard.

We turned to the one resource that we knew well; Namely the world of software engineering. These disadvantaged schools were not likely candidate feeders for the IT industry. However, we started an informal software school for a few learners from this environment nonetheless. It was incredibly challenging and a huge learning curve, but gradually we tweaked the particular nuances and it began to slowly deliver results.

If he/she can do it, so can I !

A culture of “pay something back” began to form within the JumpStart Labs, with participants giving of their time and new-found expertise to JumpStart their peers and new recruits. Former graduates filled the tutor and lecturer positions while they completed their internships, providing role models for newer JumpStart learners.

While  starting the JumpStart software lab we were also consulting to the industry commercially. These commercial efforts grew into a private company. From the begining the synergies between a commercial sustainable enterprise and social development became obvious. The skills gained in the JumpStart Software Labs were being deployed to a financially sustainable market place.

The non-profit organisation and the commercial companies complemented the objectives of each other. Borrowing the concept of a "Supply Chain" familiar to private enterprise the Jumpstart partnership with the market place formed a "Social Development Value Chain" which empowers previously disadvantaged people to deliver high-end services to a demanding market. This "Value Chain" continues to grow and we continually seeks ways to align these development efforts with commercial enterprise in order to sustain the program.

A key prerequisite to software engineering is problem solving and mathematics. As we worked with South African youth we increasing we trying to bridge these founational skills in our Software Lab. 

This lead us to start work in Education directly and since 2010 we began to work in Primary Schools at the foundations to mathematics.

This has become a significant part of our programme with over 13000 learners across 19 schools.