Every first salary of your life is very special to you. It doesn’t matter how much the amount actually is! It gives a sensation that you are now fully-fledged. You are no longer a child who depends on your parents for your needs. It gives you a confidence and a sense of responsibility that it is up to you to take care of yourself and family. In my case, it was an awesome experience as I felt mixed emotions of relief and pride.”

Lerato Thabisile

These are the words of Lerato Thabisile, one of the young women who has benefitted from the Youth Employment Service (YES) and Pizza Hut LeadHERship initiative in South Africa.

In Q1 of 2022 Pizza Hut and YES launched the LeadHERship initiative, a woman-centred programme targeted at unlocking opportunities for job placement for vulnerable young women aged 18-24, marginalised in communities, and so far, the project has proven to be a success. 

The LeadHERship initiative is a local adaptation in South Africa that ties into Pizza Hut International’s social purpose framework: An Equal Slice for Everyone. “At Pizza Hut our people come first, and we take great pride in being able to take this value to the wider world! Our social purpose framework of “An Equal Slice for everyone” allows us to drive equity and belonging for the people that need this the most.” said Beverley D’Cruz the Chief Brand Office at Pizza Hut. The iconic brand is committed to equity, opportunity, and unity, taking a locally led yet globally connected approach, with a clear focus on its people, customers, and communities.

“This initiative will assist these young women by providing them with quality 12-month working experiences, making them more employable in the future. A young woman is six times more likely to receive a call back after an interview if she possesses a legitimate reference letter. The goal is to empower young and vulnerable women in marginalised communities by developing strategies for their employability and personal development,” said Ewan Davenport Managing Director at Pizza Hut. 

According to Stats SA, South African women make up 36.4% of the unemployed population, while women between the ages of 15 and 34 make up 48.7% of the unemployed youth. 

“Through this initiative previously unemployed young women like Lerato are earning salaries, improving their skills, learning new ones, and building a CV to increase their future job prospects.

Through this programme, with our implementation partners (IPs), YES has already placed 109 women in health services, creative entrepreneurial collectives, literacy programmes and schools. With the success of the initiative thus far, we continue to contribute to breaking down the structural and socio-economic barriers and providing women an equal opportunity to play a role in the working world”, said YES acting COO, Leanne Emery Hunter.

The IPs where the young women have been placed are: 

Youth Health for Africa – a youth-focused organisation and an affiliate of the Aurum Institute. The 28 YES women will work in clinics, hospitals, and communities to champion sustainable impact and address key social determinants of health.

YCC (Youth Content Collective) helps turn young, black creatives into micropreneurs. The programme helps photographers, videographers, and illustrators monetise their talents while delivering on the business community’s need for fresh, authentic creative assets. 26 women have been taken up in the programme. #CreativePotentialRealOpportunity

Click Learning, which deploys online English literacy programmes in underprivileged primary schools across South Africa, coordinates 27 young women, who will help facilitate these literacy programmes in school computer labs.

Youth@worK provides 28 women with a supported, meaningful year of work experience. The youth were previously unemployed and were recruited across the arts, entertainment and recreation and education sectors.