Bringing Youth to the Table in Southern Africa

A corner of the GWP Southern Africa office in Pretoria, South Africa, houses the headquarters of WHC – short for Water Hygiene Convenience. We spoke to Paseka Lesolang, Founder and Managing Director of WHC, who describes the partnership as an ideal way to join forces – with a shared vision and common goals.

"We are in partnership with GWP Southern Africa because GWP has a mandate to secure water for the future. As a matter of fact, the vision of GWP is a water secure world, and WHC’s vision as a company is to save water for the future,” explains Lesolang.

For GWP Southern Africa, the collaboration is a way of acting on GWP’s Youth Engagement Strategy, by bringing in youth into the work process in a very practical way.

“We are a 100 % youth company. I founded the company when I was 18 years old. Today we are a multinational, award-winning company. Our objective – all our innovations, all our initiatives are focused on saving water for the future. GWP saw it fit to incorporate us into their bigger framework, because time and again, youth are always on the periphery of water discussions and initiatives. The decisions that are made on water are made to affect the people that are not in the room – they are all future bound. GWP wanted to bring us – WHC as a young company on the ground – to form part of the dialogue, not only to talk about the initiatives but to actually execute the various initiatives. Within the GWP Southern Africa framework, we are responsible for the youth and innovation department,” says Lesolang.

Initiatives that build the future

Lesolang says that WHC focuses on initiatives that can create jobs for youth and also lead to industrialisation.

“The nature of innovation is that it all starts off with a great idea, but over time it needs to be refined and be made into a proper concept – from concept to prototype, prototype to pilot, pilot to marketing and marketing to scaling. This framework of scaling then introduces a component of industrialisation. That realisation is what makes the economy going, says Lesolang.

The work of WHC has a natural fit within the work programmes of GWP; for instance the thinking feeds into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and also many of GWP initiatives.

“We as a company focus on SDG6, but job allocation alleviates poverty. We also have a lot of gender equality in the mix as well – everything comes together in our youth department, where GWP discusses all these high level, high impact initiatives, and the youth division breaks it down to applicable, replicable and scalable projects for youth to engage in – in a way that youth want to engage throughout the African continent.”

In the below video, Paseka Lesolang describes a day in the office of WHC – and GWP Southern Africa.