of Swazi children are orphans
Swaziland has the world's highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection, and nearly 125,000 Swazi children have been orphaned from losing parents to this epidemic. A nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of these orphans, Young Heroes received help from SAP to upgrade their IT system, making it easier for worldwide sponsors to support this important cause with online donations.
The Need for Young Heroes
$218,500 (Total Revenue - FY 2012)
4 full-time employees
Sustainability, Information Technology
SAP Sybase Replication Server
Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa, but the growing impact of HIV and AIDS on this tiny kingdom is huge. According to UNICEF, 10% of all households in the country are headed by children trying to raise their little brothers and sisters by themselves. Young Heroes is dedicated to supporting these orphans. The nonprofit organization works with Swaziland’s National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA) to deliver grass-roots level services to young people throughout the country.
Young Heroes gathers funds from worldwide sponsors to distribute to Swazi children under the age of 18. This sponsorship program allows anyone, anywhere around the world to select children in need and make monthly donations directly from the Young Heroes website. The contributions make it possible to bring these children the food, clothing, and education they desperately need.
Unlike some other programs, Young Heroes strives to keep families together on their homesteads and in their communities. Instead of supporting one individual child, contributions often go towards helping an entire family meet their basic needs.
Young Heroes is based in Mbabane, Swaziland’s largest city, and their operating expenses are underwritten by NERCHA. The organization coordinates fund-raising efforts with an affiliate in the United States – the Young Heroes Foundation, located in Leeds, Massachusetts. The organization in Massachusetts runs the website where donors can go online and register to sponsor a child or family.
Slow system responses pose a challenge
Virtually all of Young Heroes records are maintained in online databases. Real-time updates to these databases are an important factor in allowing the Young Heroes staff to work efficiently and keep the status of the sponsored children up-to-date. But in the past, slow network response proved to be a real constraint and hampered donor engagement.
Young Heroes turned to SAP for support to help improve the efficiency, reliability, and security of their vital database. SAP responded through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. The CSR program enables SAP to help non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations solve problems to accelerate their missions and affect more positive change in the world.
- Pfungwa Serima, CEO, SAP Africa
As part of its commitment to help the world run better, SAP donated hardware, contributed software licenses, and provided consulting services to help Young Heroes upgrade their information technology. This included the donation of the SAP Sybase Replication Server.
Mike Lipton, Senior Director, Supply Chain Solutions Management, SAP
The SAP team worked with United States-based company Storm Code, a Web and content management solutions provider, to develop a system that Young Heroes staff can work with offline and in real-time. Every night there is an automatic replication of the information to the organization’s other site in Massachusetts.
The upgrades helped the charity overcome some serious bandwidth challenges, and today these systems provide better support for the Young Heroes’ day-to-day operations. The new efficiencies and increased response times also give the staff more time for the important work of directly interacting with the orphaned children.
The staff members of Young Heroes now have a local server in Mbabane that they can directly access to make their updates very quickly. No longer hampered by slow internet speeds, Swazi staff work more productively and efficiently, and the organization can process overseas donations rapidly. This, in turn, helps Young Heroes better serve the children in their program, and the donors who support them.
Bonginkosi Mavimbela talks about the NCPs
There is a strong tradition in Africa where children and families in need receive help from the extended family – an uncle, aunt, cousin, or even a neighbor. Now this extended family includes the dedicated staff and global sponsors of the Young Heroes. As a result, life is better for Bonginkosi Mavimbela, and hundreds of other Swazi children.
Moving ahead, Young Heroes recently launched the Skills Training Empowerment Program (STEP), an important new program that offers a year-long course in skills training and business education to orphans who age out of the traditional sponsorship program when they turn 18. This training assists them in making the transition to adulthood by helping provide the means to support themselves and their families.
Young Heroes continues to look for additional ways to support the cause of HIV/AIDS orphans and their families. Next year, for example, Young Heroes and SAP plan to develop a mobile app for the annual MTN BUSHFIRE music and arts festival in Swaziland. This app will help visitors at the event learn more about Young Heroes and further facilitate online donations.
In Young Heroes, Bonginkosi and the children of Swaziland have found someone to stand by their side, support them, and give them hope for a brighter future. Hundreds of children have already received support from Young Heroes. And with better systems and continued donations from concerned people around the world, these numbers are expected to increase.