“I stuffed 14 former gang members and drug dealers into my car and drove off to the computer lab.”
Marlon Parker founded Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs). He is a South African social entrepreneur who uses ICT's to empower communities. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, named as one of the 100 World Class South Africans by the City Press publication and Marlon was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2014. Marlon is also a former Lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology and currently the chairman of the Reach Trust, which is centered on using the innovative technology built by Mxit to create free mobile educational, health care, agricultural and community applications serving millions of people across South Africa.
RLabs was established in 2008 as a community project to address socio-economic problems in Bridgetown, an area of Cape Town, South Africa. It quickly became a global organisation with a vision of empowering and reconstructing communities through innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and access to economic opportunities. The RLabs physical hubs are generally situated in fragile and at risk communities with scarce resources that are plagued with social challenges. Since its inception RLabs have reached more than 5 Million citizens across Africa through its mobile services as well as equipped more than 35,000 people through its training academies and programmes across the continent. RLabs has also connected more than 50,000 people through technology to jobs. According to a recent workshop in partnership with Ashoka Globalizer and McKinsey & Company, RLabs has created more than US$22 Million in economic value through its economic empowerment and academy programmes during 2013/14. RLabs was selected as one of the top innovation hubs in Africa of the future, by CNN and won the LEAD SA National Hero of 2015.
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