For nearly two decades, Bulungula Incubator has worked hand-in-hand with our community to drive meaningful development in our region. Each step, each success, and each challenge we’ve encountered has been shared with an incredible network of supporters, donors, and community members. Your steadfast commitment and belief in our mission have been the cornerstone of our achievements. It truly takes a village, and we are profoundly grateful for the shared dedication and spirit that makes all of this possible. Thank you for being an integral part of our story. We will see you in the new year!

Now for some 2023 highlights:

Education Achievements

Bulungula College celebrates 100% Matric pass rate, January 2023.

We began this year with a historic achievement – a 100% Matric pass rate at Bulungula College, marking a first in our Area history. This accomplishment is not just a statistic; it’s a testament to the potential of high-quality education in rural areas. Our toolkit, detailing how we achieved this milestone, serves as a blueprint for others to emulate. Read more: How Bulungula College achieved a 100% pass rate within two years of opening

Environmental Sustainability in Our Community

Since launching Bulungula Incubator, we have powered all of our projects (preschools, tablet e-learning, radio, high school, health point, seedling nursery and main office) with solar electricity.

2023 marks the historical introduction of grid electricity to our community. Until this year, there was no electricity in our community. While our lack of access to basic resources, such as electricity or running water, presents some of our most pressing challenges, these circumstances also make our community’s lifestyle inherently environmentally sustainable. Read more about our environmentally sustainable practices at Bulungula Incubator.

Bulungula Community Radio

Bulungula Community Radio volunteer DJ.

This year, Bulungula Community Radio (BCR) has grown exponentially and continues to be a vital source of information, entertainment, and community cohesion. The radio broadcasts to over 100 surrounding villages, and we are excited to announce the launch of our online streaming channel. Now you can tune-in and listen to BCR, no matter where you are! Tune-in now.

Job Placement for Job Skills and Entrepreneurship Graduates

Siyamthanda Dibanto attended our very first preschool in 2009 and has grown up in our projects. This year, she graduated from our Job Skills and Entrepreneurship Programme, and has secured a full-time permanent job through our networks.

This year, we introduced a job placement phase in our Job Skills and Entrepreneurship Programme. We have found that the biggest obstacle to success for our young people is self-belief and the confidence they, their families and their community have in their ability to achieve their goals. It is incredibly challenging to leap from this situation into one where a productive career can be created. As the programme’s final phase, graduates are connected to work opportunities to kickstart their careers.

Read Siyamthanda’s story, from her formative years in our projects to her current full-time permanent job facilitated through our job placement programme.

Cultivating Local Leadership

Nearly 90% of BI staff are from our local community, and now, 83% of our senior management team was born in or are permanent bona fide members of the community.

Our commitment to ‘growing our own timber’ by training community members for leadership roles has been a cornerstone of our strategy.

When we first started our work in 2007, there were scarce skills available for many of our projects, particularly in health, education, finance and admin management. As a strategic focus, we prioritised training people from our community, even if we needed to outsource jobs temporarily while developing skills in-house.

This year, we expanded our Job Skills and Entrepreneurship Programme accredited courses to our staff. Ten BI staff members are enrolled in an eighteen-month course in team development, conflict and change management, human resource management, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation. 

Data-Driven Impact

Nomakhaya (Community Health Worker) capturing home-visit data on our fully-digital data management system.

For nearly twenty years, our projects have amassed a significant amount of data that we use to assess the effectiveness of our interventions, improve project management, and make informed decisions within our organisation and on a broader scale for greater impact. Our system has evolved through an iterative process involving continuous refinement to ensure the system is “fit for use”. We have written up our system as a toolkit; read here.

Bulungula Health Point: Expanding Access to Care

Bulungula Health Point is now equipped with three exam rooms, a reception area, a waiting area, a pharmacy, an office, AND a kitchen!

The renovation and expansion of Bulungula Health Point mark a significant step in providing comprehensive primary healthcare services to our community. The health point is a compelling example of how a community-based organisation can establish and operate a high-quality healthcare facility while integrating it into the government’s primary care system. Bulungula Health Point 3.0—from mud-hut to mini-clinic

How to get ARVs delivered to your home in the rural Eastern Cape

Nomakhaya delivering HIV treatment to community member through our pick-up point programme.

Our initiative as a pick-up point for ARV medication has led to zero defaults in treatment in our community, showcasing the power of local solutions to global challenges. Did you know you can also open a pick-up point in your community? Learn how.

Thatha iLiza: Riding the Waves of Change

Thatha iLiza team doing a Take 5 meditation before surfing.

Thatha iLiza, our surf-therapy project, participated in their first-ever competition at the Coffee Bay Classic. The team was brave and jumped into the new waves in the water with some of South Africa’s most talented surfers. We even brought home a few medals and a 1st place trophy for the u-12 boys age group. They represented Bulungula so well!

Job Creation in Bulungula

EPWP workers fixing road damaged after rainy season.

We continue to partner with Independent Development Trust (responsible for implementing the Expanded Public Works Programme, “EPWP”) to recruit and manage extra jobs in our community. The work carried out by EPWP workers serves several important purposes within our community, with a primary focus on road maintenance and waste collection.

The consistent provision of job contracts contributes to household incomes and provides a lifeline for families grappling with unemployment. Although the challenge of unemployment remains unacceptably high in our community, we are proud of the significant growth over the past two decades. We’ve transitioned from a time when only a handful of job opportunities were available to now over 400 people who can work locally in our community.

Accessible Subsistence Farming

Masilime Ngqo! our vegetable seedling nursery.

Our rural location means we are far from grocery stores, significantly limiting our access to fresh, nutritious foods. But in our communities, families typically own large plots of very fertile land that is used for subsistence farming. In the past, getting seedlings was tough. Without local nurseries, people had to travel long distances to buy them. But now, farmers can buy seedlings in our community year-round from Masilime Ngqo.

At Masilime Ngqo, we sell a range of seasonal vegetable seedlings – from spinach and beetroot to carrot, pepper, cabbage, lettuce, onion, and tomato. Want to start a seedling nursery in your community? Read our toolkit to learn how.

Early Childhood Development: Laying Strong Foundations

Jujurha ECDC Grade R class of 2023!

Twenty years ago, quality education, let alone Early Childhood Development (ECD), was an abstract concept for our community because of our area’s limited access to schooling. However, over the years, we have steadily built our education programme, which includes five ECD centres across four villages. Today, we celebrate the graduation of our 15th Grade R class, adding to the over 1,000 children who have benefited from our schools.

Read more about our model for sustainable ECD centres.

Mathematics Catchup with iiTablet Tshomiz

iiTablet Tshomiz tablet-based mathematics catch-up programme at government schools and Bulungula College.

iiTablet Tshomiz, a tablet-based mathematics tutoring programme, expanded this year to Bulungula College. The programme now operates in five schools, providing two hours of extra maths learning to 1,150 learners grades 1-12.

An external evaluation of iiTablet Tshomiz compared the performance of participants in the programme to students at a control school and found that learners engaged in the project experienced a 10% positive impact on their mathematics outcomes compared to their peers at the control school.

Sharing Knowledge, Building Networks

Dali Maleyile, Data Management System Specialist, presenting our system at Wild Coast Forum.

At Bulungula Incubator, we aim to create vibrant and sustainable rural communities by initiating projects and sharing our knowledge with NGOs, corporations, and governments for broader rural development. This year, we hosted the Wild Coast Forum at Bulungula Lodge, attended by a record twenty organisations. These events, key to our impact strategy, facilitate valuable knowledge exchange. Additionally, we’ve launched a webinar series featuring insights from our project managers, partners, and experts. Watch our first session with the University of Cape Town’s Chronic Disease Initiative for Africa. More webinars are planned for 2024—stay tuned!

Big Additions at Bulungula Lodge!

Ride in environmental-style in Bulungula Lodge’s solar-powered electric car! 100% powered by Wild Coast run.

Bulungula Lodge, our community-owned and run backpackers, had an exciting year of renovations. The rondavels now have the addition of en-suite composting toilet and shower. Most exciting, we welcomed the first-ever solar-powered electric tourist shuttle in Africa! Come visit us and try it out for yourself!