enke: Trailblazer Program

a person who makes, does, or discovers something new and makes it acceptable or popular

The enke: Trailblazer Program inspires and supports Grade 10 and 11 high school youth to create real change in their communities. Participants design and run projects to address the social issues they feel passionate about. Through this experience, participants increase their grit, social responsibility, self-efficacy and social capital, while gaining practical experience in project management and leadership.

Through the Trailblazer Program, we introduce high school students to other like-minded, passionate and enthusiastic young people. Participants learn skills that will help them achieve their dreams and use these skills to design and run a project in their community. Participants walk away from the experience having made an impact on their communities and inspired to continue to make change happen.

This is a national program that encourages participation from youth from every province in South Africa and beyond. We have had youth from as far as Windhoek, Namibia and Nairobi, Kenya, participate in the Program!

The program has 3 key components: Training, Action and Recognition*:

  1. Training @ the enke: Forum – The Trailblazer Program kicks off with a week of residential training known as the enke: Forum. Content covers personal leadership development and a guided process through which each participant develops a Community Action Project (CAP) to address a social issue.  In addition, this is accomplished through youth-to-youth program delivery, inspirational guest speakers and individual feedback.
  2. Action & Support – The Community Action Project (CAP) each participant designs at the Forum is the main focus of the program. A CAP is totally designed, owned and executed by the participant, and they carry it out over the 9 months of the program, in any community they choose, addressing a social challenge they face, with whatever creative idea they come up with.
  3. Recognition – The enke: Trailblazer Program concludes with a one-day celebration event where participants can reconnect with their peers, reflect on their experience and be recognised for their effort.  Trailblazers also receive letters and certificates of recognition and completion for their work.
 *NOTE: In 2020, due to COVID-19, there have been changes made to how the key components and activities are run for the 2020-21 enke: Trailblazer Program. Click Here to find out more about these changes and other measures that enke has taken in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (https://enke.co.za/about/enke-covid-19-response/)

Participants learn skills that they can use in other parts of their lives; at school, when applying for a job, or for university and generally in the future. Also, if they can talk about what they learned as they ran (or tried to run!) a project then it will look good on CVs and in job or scholarship and bursary interviews. By designing and running their own Community Aation Project participants develop practical skills (planning, problem solving, resource management, resource mobilisation, team management) and non-cognitive skills (grit, social awareness, self-efficacy).

The Program has long-term positive effect on the future of Trailblazers. In 2014 we conducted research on our alumni (past participants), which showed:

  • Those who complete a community social action project are more likely to show higher levels of ‘soft’ skills, practical project skills and social support.
  • Rates of further education and employment were higher in enke alumni when compared to national averages.
  • Those who began a social action project (regardless of finishing it) are approximately three times more likely to be engaged in volunteering or self-directed social entrepreneurial efforts.
  • It doesn’t end there! Program Participants have gone on to leverage their experience to receive scholarships, bursaries, awards, and recognition such as in the M&G 200 Young South Africans or enter prestigious programs such as African Leadership Academy.

Participants in our Programs go on to join our Alumni Network, accessing opportunities and support on an ongoing basis from enke: Make Your Mark.

Creating real, positive change is how young people can make their mark. Using skills they learn at Forum, participants will be able to take action on the issues they feel passionately about and have real impact on a social issue and create a better future for South Africa. Young people don’t have to just sit back and inherit the world – we can actually be part of creating it. All too often we hear about “future” leaders – but at enke, we believe that youth can be leaders right now.

Examples of Trailblazer Community Action Projects (CAP):

  • In 2009, Maja and TK started an Each-One-Teach-One peer tutoring project at their school that contributed to increasing their Grade 11 pass rate from 67% to 90% in a 6-month period – Read TK and Maja’s Story of Impact
  • In 2015, Lwazi implemented a project to improve educational outcomes in his school. He built a team of peers with whom he ran homework classes for those struggling with school work and worked with their school management and the local government to bring their school library back to life – Read Lwazi’s Story of Impact
  • For her 2016 Trailblazer CAP, Chenoa started the “Cuddle Angels” project, collecting thousands of teddy bears and toys to donate to orphanages and homes in Durban and Johannesburg – Read Chenoa’s Story of Impact

The snapshots above are just a few examples of the over 1,000 social impact and enterprise projects run by high school learners through the enke: Trailblazer Program.

To become an enke: Trailblazer, Grade 10 and 11 high school learners must apply to participate! Application periods, deadlines and detailed information is made available on our Opportunities Page. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

Selection Criteria
We are looking for young people who want to part of something really cool, interested in developing their leadership skills, meeting other young people from across South Africa who share similar interest in developing themselves and making their communities better. The program is open to youth from all races and backgrounds – we want to connect all youth to each other.

We consider the following criteria for selection:

  • Desire to build realise leadership potential through active participation in their school, church, or other community group.
  • Strong ability to interact and communicate with peers.
  • Knowledge of community, political and social issues.
  • A desire to learn the skills to make change happen.
  • English fluency and understanding as the program is delivered in English

Trailblazer Impact Stories

Join us in creating lasting change and skills development for youth

About enke

enke is a leadership development organisation that generates and incubates youth-led social change. We connect, equip and inspire youth to realise their potential, thrive and mobilise for meaningful change. 

  • Non-Profit Company Reg.: 2010/0231851/08
  • Dept. of Social Development Reg.: NPO 132-509
  • SARS Public Benefit Org. Reg.: 9300/37429

Partner with us in creating opportunities for youth to find and succeed in their chosen life pathways.


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