Founder story: Fundza Literacy Trust
Updated: Sep 12
Fundza Literacy Trust is committed to strengthening literacy levels among teenagers and young individuals.
Tennielle Rode, Operations Manager, & Dorothy Dyer, Programme Manager, Fundza Literacy Trust
In a country where education is the cornerstone of progress, The Fundza Literacy Trust, a South African nonprofit, is on a quest to improve literacy among teenagers and young adults.
The company was started in 2011 when teachers and friends Dorothy Dyer and Ros Haden noticed that there were very few published books set within a South African context for Black teens. Together, they set about writing books aimed specifically at this group. Mignon Hardie later joined them and first created Cover2Cover books, a publishing house and then created Fundza Literacy Trust as it exists today.
Through extensive research, the organisation discovered that young people are more likely to become avid readers when they encounter texts that reflect their lived experiences. Focusing on those who have never embraced reading before, Fundza designs and publishes reading materials with the aim to spark a love for reading and writing.
At the heart of Fundza's efforts lies their main platform, live.fundza.mobi, a digital library archive accessible on any device. This data-free site serves as a hub where readers, writers, and course participants can connect with FunDza. The user-friendly platform sees the addition of authentic content daily, featuring stories crafted by seasoned writers and emerging talents, and articles on topical issues. Currently, an impressive 300 000 users interact with Fundza's content every month.
Fundza also offers an array of other compelling material, including the Mindspace blog. Authored by South African writers, this weekly blog delves into pressing issues like black tax, gender-based violence, online dating, and more. Furthermore, readers can discover captivating interviews with inspiring South Africans who have overcome obstacles to achieve remarkable accomplishments.
Beyond promoting reading, Fundza nurtures the writing potential of young individuals, providing them with a platform to share their creative work. Readers are invited to submit their pieces, becoming part of a vibrant community of authors. Aspiring writers can also submit their work for review by the Fundza team, leading to publication on live.fundza.mobi.
Fundza operates a robust mentorship programme, pairing promising writers with experienced mentors to craft engaging stories. The organisation takes pride in its distinguished mentors, including Sifiso Mzobe and Masha Du Toit, who have mentored talented writers like Njabulo Goba and Yonela Gatyeni, contributing to Fundza's roster of professionals.
Dedicated to nurturing the next generation of writers, Fundza conducts a comprehensive fellowship programme, immersing 20 talented, young writers from across South Africa in a 10-month online writing journey. By the end of the fellowship, participants amass an impressive portfolio of writing, with multiple publications on the live.fundza.mobi platform.
To further foster engagement, the company has embraced the ubiquitous WhatsApp platform. From exploring the latest on the Fundza mobi site, to downloading stories for offline reading, WhatsApp becomes the key to literary exploration. Moreover, readers can use WhatsApp to contact Fundza, sharing queries and providing valuable feedback.
Fundza recognises the importance of lifelong learning and offers free online courses on its mobi site. Their courses cover social issues, personal development, support for mental health, guidance for the unemployed, curriculum topics, and financial literacy. The organisation extends its training courses to educators too. It aims to share the importance of reading and writing for pleasure, providing schools and organisations with practical ideas for implementation.
By nurturing a love for reading and writing, providing platforms for creativity, and fostering a sense of community among young writers, Fundza Literacy Trust is sowing the seeds of a literacy-rich, informed, and imaginative generation. As Fundza continues to champion the transformative power of literacy, it forges a path towards a brighter future for South Africa; one enriched by the limitless potential of its youth.
Fundza Literacy Trust is part of the 2023 Injini Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship Program.