This SA startup is facing youth unemployment with blockchain technology and R3.5 million from Google



  • Zlto, a social start-up based in Cape Town, is committed to reducing the youth unemployment rate of SA with an approach that uses blockchain technology.
  • The Zlto app tracks and incentives positive behaviors.
  • It allows young people to accumulate work experience through community work, recorded in a transparent and verifiable manner.

In the third quarter of 2018, the youth unemployment rate in South Africa decreased, from 53.70% to 52.80%. And appropriate credentials and work experience are often cited by young South Africans as their main challenge when they try to enter the labor market.

This is the problem of the Cape Town social start-up that Zlto hopes to solve with an approach based on mobile phones and blockchain technology at the base of cryptocurrencies like bitcoins, as well as a little financial help from Google.

Zlto is an initiative of the local NGO Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs) and its mission is to engage young people in their communities as a stepping stone to employment.

See also: this SA start-up that automatically matches students with universities has just landed at R3.5 million from Google

Voluntary work can range from cleaning up the environment to the suffering of a crumbling public building.

google, rlabs

Young Zlto volunteers to clean up the environment as part of the work of the social community and gain experience in the process. (RLabs / Google SA)

Users make the clock by taking a "before" photo of the particular activity and uploading it to the Zlto app, and doing the same thing with a "after" picture once the job is finished. The acquired work experience is recorded in a blockchain register, making it transparent and easy to verify. Meanwhile, the voluntary work done is also rewarded in Zlto's digital currency, which can be spent either in Mr Price on clothes or over 1,000 Shoprite stores on groceries or even in transmission time – one of the biggest expenses for those seeking actively work.

"It's been almost two years since Zlto became mobile, and at that time we saw over 25,000 young people signing up, intentionally impacting their communities and the change they want to see in communities," says Zlto.

The app was recently named among the winners of $ 250,000 (about R3.5 million) by Google in its Impact Challenge competition that seeks to invest in startups that use technology to address societal problems.


Zlto beneficiary and ambassador, Allan van der Meulen (L) with TV personality and one of the judges of Google Impact Challenge, Maps Maponyane. (Google SA)

A Zlto beneficiary and ambassador, Allan van der Meulen, told Business Insider South Africa that the social startup intends to use the R3.5 million cash prize to expand beyond its current reach in the Cape Town region in other parts of the South Africa.

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