“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela has inspired me since I was young to always seek to do what has not been done before. It created an urge in me to think of new concepts in which to change the world for the better. This is why I am excited that we get to teach learners how to code without the use of computers. The fact that we do not have to wait for funding for computer labs but that we can create solutions that can fit the context of learners in under-resourced communities keeps me going. What happens once we unlock the minds of those young people then shows what is really possible.


Civil Society


Leva Foundation

“I want to play a part in opening avenues for young Africans to rise and take their place on the world stage. I imagine how the little I do can influence the lives of those who come after me, and that drives me,” says Jackson Tshabalala, 30. As the operations manager for Leva Foundation, Jackson is a future-oriented thinker who believes that young South Africans have a crucial role to play in the world and that education and access to resources are key. He has exceptional leadership skills. Heading up HQ staff members and regional coordinators across the country with more than 200 coding ambassadors on the ground, he has helped the Tangible Africa project engage with 100,000 learners and trains 20,000 teachers across South Africa, as well as in other African and European countries. Tangible Africa introduces coding concepts without the use of computers. Jackson pitched the Tangible Africa project at the Africa Union Commission and Partners Innovating Education in Africa (2022) flagship programme in Tunis, Tunisia, winning second place. He heads to Ireland this year to lead a training programme for teachers and learners in that country. Completing his postgraduate studies at Henley Business School, Jackson’s wish for South Africa is to see a drastically reduced youth unemployment rate and higher investment in entrepreneurship. 

  • Nelson Mandela University: BA, industrial and organisational psychology; English language studies
  • Henley Business School: post graduate diploma, management practices

  • Second place, African Union Innovating Education (2022)
  • Hosting the national Coding4Mandela tournament on Mandela Day where over 6,000 learners engaged with our project

My brother bought me a “cops and robbers” handheld game set for my sixth birthday. The joy I felt that day is the joy I want people to feel. Because of this, I foster environments where people care about the joy others get through the work they do. This has allowed me to enjoy the work I do and therefore achieve more.

As great as the wealth of our natural resources is, it is the young people of Africa who will unlock its potential.

I would like South Africa to be a country that produces global leaders who contribute positively to the development of the continent and the world. South Africa to develop technology hubs where young people can create innovative education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities that solve global energy and environmental issues. I want to see a drastically reduced youth unemployment rate and higher investment in youth entrepreneurship.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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