Lead SALead SA

Marlon Parker, the Man Behind a Social Revolution



The Western Cape Lead SA Hero for October is Marlon Parker, the brains behind Reconstructed Living Labs and the man backing our youth.

A Model for Social Change

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Born in Silvertown on the Cape Flats, Marlon Parker understood the effects of marginalisation – whether society’s doing or self-imposed.

However, he never allowed his circumstances to hinder his journey to a life of success and, most importantly, significance.

“I wondered if I could, with the skills that I have, make a difference in someone’s life,” said Marlon.

Combining his love for technology with his desire to impact the lives of young people across the world, Marlon founded RLabs in 2008.

The RLabs Revolution

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“The main purpose of RLabs is building hope economies,” said Marlon.

RLabs creates innovative spaces in marginalised communities and in South African townships.

Wonderful examples of this are the Youth Cafes, established by a partnership between RLabs and the Department of Social Development.

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Youth Cafes give community members access to learning opportunities and steer them towards economic empowerment.

To use the Youth Cafes, young people need to do good in their communities.

For every act of social good, they are awarded with virtual currency, known as Zlatos, which can be used to purchase refreshments, attend empowerment courses, or even go to the local hairdresser.

The RLabs model has proven to be such a driver for change that it has already been adopted in 21 other countries.

“Seeing the change and transformation in the lives of people we work with… that’s what makes me wake up every morning,” said Marlon.

It is his desire to change the world for the better, and the existing track record, that makes Marlon Parker our Western Cape Lead SA Hero for October.

We salute you!

- by Carla Bernardo, Lead SA


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