Dear generous supporter,

2016 has been an extraordinary year for Great Girls, not just because it has seen another intake of young women complete the programme, but also because it is a year in which we have been inundated with support from people like you.

As Trustees, we are delighted to find ourselves in an incredibly healthy position from which to turn our attention to 2017 – and in today’s economic climate, that is a real privilege for an NGO. It is a privilege we take seriously and one for which we remain indebted to you, and those like you, who have generously and faithfully supported Great Girls. Thank you.

This year, a number of our Trustees completed a one-day director’s training course, which provided invaluable insight into the responsibilities of running an organisation like Great Girls. From this we have endeavoured to ensure that our processes, finances and decisions remain as transparent as possible, for all of our stakeholders. As part of this, we have undertaken to provide you with our annual financial statements (click here to view them), along with an outline from us as to what we have done with your kind support, and where we hope to go in 2017. With that in mind, please do take time to consider the contents of this report and to be in contact with us should you have any questions or queries. We welcome your input and value your contribution.

A look back at 2016

For 2016, we made a conscious decision to keep the programme’s intake numbers at relatively the same level that they have been since our founding in 2014. Why? One of the most successful and valuable aspects of Great Girls is the individual attention girls on the programme receive, not just during workshop days, but in the following two years of mentorship with us. This direct attention is vital, but very time consuming and relies on a core group of dedicated and talented volunteers who fundamentally invest in our participants. We also wanted to retain the small ‘community’ feel during workshop days, which encourages the girls to open up, share in group sessions and actively participate in talks and lessons.

Here are some insights into the Great Girls class of 2016:

  • The intake included 21 girls in Grade 11 and 12 from the schools of Lavender Hill, Sibelius and Steenberg, all located in the Lavender Hill area of the Cape Flats.

  • We experienced a relatively normal number of ‘drop outs’ – participants who realise throughout the programme that, for whatever reason, they cannot commit to the work or time required from them. This year, we experienced a 14% dropout rate, and thus an 86% graduation rate.

  • We had eight ‘Pod Mom’ volunteers, who will each mentor two to three girls for the next two years following this year’s programme.

The Great Girls alumni programme

One of the exciting new things introduced in 2016 was our alumni programme, designed to add further mentorship to all participants who have come through our programme since 2014. We recognised that many participants still need the practical help of things like CV coaching and motivational speakers beyond their time in the Great Girls programme, and that offering quarterly workshops aimed at our alumni community would aid the girls and Pod Moms in ensuring participants remained ‘hooked in’ to the Great Girls support network. This is over and above the mentorship girls receive for the next two years once they have finished a programme, and has also helped get the girls back to together so they can share their successes and challenges with one another.

Over 2016, we’re delighted to say that the alumni programme has been a wonderful success, with four workshops throughout the year offering things such as time with computers and internet for girls to update CVs and make online job applications; reviews of girls’ goals and ambitious since the programme, with road mapping to help them pinpoint action plans for the year; inspirational talks from local community women, including those who are running their own businesses; and further information sessions on bursaries, student loans and funding options for those in tertiary education, as well as training schemes and job opportunities for girls seeking employment.

From a review of our alumni (2014 and 2015 intakes) completed at the beginning of 2016, we can report the following exciting figures:

  • Of those who had matriculated, 70% were studying further (of which 30% also had part-time jobs), 10% were in employment and 10% had taken an intentional gap year

  • Of the 6% of girls needing to re-write parts of their matric, over 66% were in employment while they studied and re-wrote

Some notes on our 2016 budget, and thoughts for the budget moving into 2017

Over 2016 the Trustees have endeavoured to acquire more assets that allow us to hire less for future programmes, as well as to increase our offering to participants. This has included purchasing equipment like whiteboards and stationery as well three laptops for girls to use during workshops and the alumni programme for tasks such as updating CVs, applying for bursaries and job hunting.

We have also worked hard to employ people from the local community to help us where needed, including hiring a local car guard for workshop days, which are held at a centre in Lavender Hill; a local lady to help us wash dishes and cups from workshop lunches; and a local seamstress to assist with altering interview outfits for girls during Module 4 of the programme.

The Trustees have also taken the decision to hire buses for Great Girls outings, to ensure transport provided by the charity is secure, safe and insured – not to mention the logistical ease this has provided in an environment where most participants cannot organise their own transport.

With changes like this in mind, we have anticipated that the cost of running future programmes is in the region of R30,000.00 to R40,000.00 and shouldn’t, for 2017 at least, exceed R50,000.00. This is based on an intake of a maximum of 30 girls, and obviously drops accordingly if the intake is less.

Our alumni programme also operates from the community centre in Lavender Hill, and since we do not provide girls with any lunch catering for this, is significantly cheaper to run. We also typically have about half the number of girls on these days, which reduces our costs. We have projected around R600 per girl for the entire 2017 alumni programme which, if we have 50 girls attending throughout the year, amounts to R30,000 in total.

We can also confirm that we have received funding from Good Grapes, which is specifically allocated to us to pay for a part-time administrator to oversee the running of the 2017 programme and administrative requirements of Great Girls throughout the year. To date, this has all been done by volunteers who have full-time jobs and families, and while none of our volunteers have wished to take a salary, it is a great relief to receive funding that can only be used for this specific purpose. We are currently advertising this position and welcome applications via our Facebook page or email. We hope to fill the position by the start of February 2017.

Thank you…

To our corporate donors, many of whom have provided significant contributions to our overall budget:

  • Catalyst

  • Essence

  • Gibb

  • Macquarie

  • Pick n Pay

  • State Street

In addition to the above, a number of private individuals have also donated their invaluable resources, from financial contributions to their skills and time, all of which have made our 2016 programme possible, and the continuation of Great Girls in the future viable and sustainable. We also thank those who give to Great Girls via monthly debit order, which aids our budgeting and financial forecasting immensely.

As a result of the above, we are pleased to report that the Trustees took the decision in 2016 to set aside a portion of donations received into a savings account, not just to allow us to store resources for future programmes with the awareness that donation levels fluctuate year on year, but also to try to nurture an investment that will one day, hopefully, be able to fully fund Great Girls. This is part of our duty to ensure the sustainability of Great Girls, as well as our belief that the programme will remain an important contribution to South Africa for years to come. Thank you for making this possible!

Trustee changes

One final note to say that Sarah Browning-de Villiers has stepped down as a Trustee, having served since founding in 2014. The Trustee team will be bolstered by the additions of Zoë Palmer, a Pod Mom and environmental scientist, and Hanri Smits, a Pod Mom and accountant at Bass Gordon, for 2017.


So, we enter 2017 with great excitement and financially, very healthy. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your time, support and generosity, which have been the core means by which Great Girls has continued to provide incredible difference to the lives of young women in Lavender Hill.

If you don’t already, please do follow us on Facebook where we post videos and news from our girls, and provide windows into workshops and each year’s programmes. It’s a really wonderful way to ‘meet’ the girls who you are supporting, and whose lives you are changing for the better.

Thank you!

The Trustees

Clare Jacobs, Kristina Miller, Nandi Qubeka, Sarah Browning-de Villiers
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Great Girls · Cape Town · South Africa · Cape Town, Western Cape S-8001 · South Africa

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