Luvuyo Rani articleLuvuyo Rani (centre) and his fellow Outstanding Young Persons of the World 2014 at the awards ceremony during the JCI World Congress in Leipzig, Germany in late November.

For his extraordinary work giving his community access to technology, IT entrepreneur and Play Your Part Ambassador Luvuyo Rani of Khayelitsha has been named one of the 10 Junior Chamber International (JCI) Outstanding Young Persons of the World for 2014, in the category of business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment.

JCI is a worldwide membership-based nonprofit organization of young active citizens aged 18 to 40 who are dedicated to creating positive change in their communities. Through projects in more than 5 000 communities across more than 100 countries, members seek targeted solutions to local problems, creating a sustainable global impact.

Each year, JCI honours 10 outstanding young people under the age of 40. These young active citizens exemplify the spirit of the JCI mission and provide exemplary service to their communities.

Growing up in a small town in Eastern Cape, Luvuyo Rani moved to the sprawling township of Khayelitsha outside Cape Town in his late teens to study at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

After teaching accounting and entrepreneurship at high school level, Rani decided to change his career and focus on increasing access to technology in Khayelitsha. He started by opening an internet café that offered computer training and IT support for the local community. Rani believes computers and the internet offer people the priceless power of education and information.

Expanding his services from the Internet café to a full-scale business, Rani and his brother started Silulo Ulutho Technologies – the name means “we bring value through technology in isiXhosa. The brothers started selling refurbished computers, providing IT training and even helping local entrepreneurs write business profiles and plans.

Today, Rani and his business work to close the IT skill gap in his community, so as to reduce unemployment. South Africa’s jobless rate is 25%, but townships such as Khayelitsha often have a rate of 50%, particularly among the youth. To help tackle this, Rani opened a school providing computer training to the public, open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The school has now been running for seven years and more than 20 000 students have completed the six-month training programme. More than 50% of Rani’s graduates have found jobs. Rani places a high value on service rather than profit, providing payment plans for his programmes to make them available to disadvantaged communities. His business and education programmes continue to empower people to learn new skills and use them for increased communication, connection and employment. Responding to this important social need, Rani has opened the door to the world of technology for people and communities across South Africa.

Rani and the other nine Outstanding Young Persons of the World for 2014 were honoured at an awards ceremony on Friday 28 November at the 2014 JCI World Congress in Leipzig, Germany.

Young people from around the world voted online to participate in selecting the honourees. Along with the final judging panel, comprised of representatives of select partner organisations and 2014 JCI president Shine Bhaskaran, the online votes helped determine the winners. After more than 37 500 votes were cast and the judging panel reviewed the top 20 semi-finalists, 10 young active citizens were selected for their exceptional service, creativity and positive change for their communities and the world.

The other nine honourees are:

• Zaheer Allam, Mauritius – Moral and/or environmental leadership
• Bulut Ersavas, Turkey – Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment
• Daniel Flynn, Australia – Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment
• Alonzo Gabriel, the Philippines – Academic leadership and/or accomplishment
• Nicolás García Mayor, Argentina – Contribution to children, world peace, and/or human rights
• Po Man Lo, Hong Kong – Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment
• Darren Lomman, Australia – Scientific and/or technological development
• Ruth Riley, USA – Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership
• Nick Shen Weijun, Singapore – Cultural achievement