Xoli Fuyani

Black Girls Rising

What does your company do?

BGR is a Black-Led youth-focused organization. We strongly believe in the upliftment and involvement of young black girls in the fight against Climate Change and activism. Our mission is to provide educational empowerment programs, mentorship opportunities, and advocacy platforms that support the development of black girls as influential voices and catalysts for climate leadership. Whether now, shortly, or further on, these girls will be policy and change-makers within their communities, country, and possibly worldwide. We aim to change the face of climate leadership for generations by offering holistic training and empowerment for young black girls aged 9 to 18 years to be well-informed and embodied girl leaders at the forefront of climate action. Black Girls from marginalised communities need outstanding leadership to meet their full potential. Our programs cultivate and support such leadership, which requires not just the skills to guide the work but also the self-awareness and empathy to support themselves and their community members, as well as their ability to foster partnerships necessary to grow their work. We are building strong networks of young black female climate leaders who will build bridges and work together to find solutions and address African climate justice challenges to achieve social justice. Mitigate the Climate Crisis through education, awareness, action, and eco-friendly initiatives that address local environmental challenges and contribute to climate resilience—equipping marginalised communities with the knowledge and resources to actively participate in mitigating the effects of climate change, both locally and globally.

What is your biggest success?

Black Girls Rising started as a voluntary organisation servicing 12 girls from Khayelitsha with a budget of R20 000 in 2021. At the beginning of 2022, Xoli left her full-time job and worked full-time for the organisation, seeing an increasing the budget from 200000 in 2022 to 4 million to date and securing all funding through international donors Since its inception in 2021, Black Girls Rising has reached over 500 young black girls through its programs. We are working with 100+ girls in person in Cape Town and supporting a minor group through our one-year fellowship program in Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa (Eastern Cape & Kwazulu Natal). Our scholarship program has been a resounding success, supporting four high school beneficiaries and two university students. This achievement is a testament to our commitment to empowering young black girls through education. We are employing our program graduates through our intern program and currently have three interns trained and mentored to run our campaigns and guide our younger beneficiaries.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Our biggest hurdle was transitioning from a volunteer organisation to a start-up, hiring, and putting structures and systems in place. The process was tedious and painful. Navigating the change while needing to implement programs was challenging, but we managed and still working through our organizational development. Also, operating in South Africa, Zambia, and Kenya involves navigating a complex web of contexts that significantly impact the focus population from marginalized communities. Our biggest hurdle is navigating and working in environments where the climate crisis erodes the health and stability of ecosystems and livelihoods. While everyone feels the impact of climate change, we know that the effect varies disproportionately based on various intersections of identity, including race, class, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Our girls particularly remain a critical dimension in defining social structures and identities, and climate change exacerbates gender inequalities and discrimination.