Launched: August 2018 Members: 3817 CVs: 2842 Branches: 8 Trained volunteers: 111 Details

Search and Employ our Conscientious Work-Seeking Members

Candidates at no charge to employers and recruiters. Run at no charge for and by the unemployed.

Common searches: Call centre Cleaner Handyman/woman Nanny Security guard

Search also by area, education, age, gender, languages, licences and skills

Grassroots Community Organising Around Unemployment

Launching a New Movement

A member induction, Langa branch, 4 Sep 2018

Launched on 13 August 2018, OfW uses grassroots community organising, campaigns and advocacy to alleviate unemployment. Our model is to organise communities in high unemployment areas to run their own branches that both support the unemployed in their search for work and endeavour to bring more work to the local area.

Our branches are open to the unemployed of ALL ages, educations, abilities and criminal records and act like free job centres to connect the unemployed directly to employers from where they live (always for free).

Harare (Khayeitsha) branch volunteers questioning their ward councillor, Anele Gabuza, about what he's doing to bring more work to the area, 12 Nov 2019

As a movement our goals are to increase the number of jobs in South Africa and the alleviation of the experience of being unemployed, including better treatment by employers and recruiters. South Africa has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world and yet the voices of the unemployed are almost never heard in sites of planning like the Jobs Summit and Nedlac.

Read more

The Presidency's Response to our Movement

Our article in the Daily Maverick describing the 2020 State of Nation Address as having inadequate and underfunded ideas to combat the unemployment crisis received a response in the same publication from the private office of the President.

Working with Cape Town Together

We got behind the city-wide organising effort and five of our volunteers launched their area's community action network.

OfW played a role in formalising the partnering of neighbourhoods across the city, starting with Gugulethu and Sea Point. Read more in Pamela Silwana's piece on Daily Maverick.

Branches in High Unemployment Areas Run by Local Unemployed

Gugulethu branch volunteers helping the public, 4 Oct 2019

Our branches are all run by local unemployed volunteers. Members are encouraged to become more active job-seekers and to get involved in bringing more work to their local area. Read about our member tiers and incentives.

Wherever we open branches, we train local unemployed volunteers to staff them. Our aim is to organise community branches that are capacitated to find novel solutions in local conditions. At the same time, branches are supported centrally by sharing the experiences, successes and failures of other branches.

Because they are situated in City of Cape Town sites (predominantly libraries) and are volunteer run, branches operate at a next-to-zero monthly cost.

What Branches and Volunteers Do

Campaign planning session at Nyanga branch, 22 Jan 2020

Most members come to our branches because they are situated near their homes and because our tools can improve their chances of finding work. CVs they create on our website (with help from volunteers) are concise, well structured and have been honed by feedback from employers. Volunteers are trained to check member CVs and also to run our two main workshops: getting your CV to 100+ employers a week and dealing with hard interview situations.

Our branches are places where the unemployed can face the daily challenges of job-seeking together, making the search feel less solitary.

Watch our Gugulethu volunteer, Pamela Silwana (left), on The Gathering's unemployment panel with (left to right) Mbali Ntuli, Justice Dennis Davis (moderating) and Neil Coleman, 6 Mar 2020

We have also started to work towards organising informal workers in their area in order to increase the amount of work done in high unemployment areas. Organising informal workers can help

  • by representing the reputation of informal workers to the market
  • through discount collective buying of equipment and other inputs
  • with training and problem solving
  • with the provision or obtaining of credit
  • by working with local and national government to improve sites of trading, working conditions and to obtain other support

What are the 40 million working age (15-64) doing?

In employment 15.9m (39% of working age)
Not in employment 24.5m (61% of working age)
Needing work 20.0m (50% of working age)
Strict unemployment 7.8m (33% of workforce excluding discouraged)
Broad unemployment 11.1m (41% of workforce including discouraged)

Around the World

Country Unemployed Employed of Ages 15-64
S Africa 33% 39%
Brazil 14% 54%
Belgium 6% 64%
Germany 4% 77%
India 6% 56%
Thailand 1% 72%
Tunisia 16% 44%
World 6% 65%
(World Bank and International Labour Organisation various periods, Stats SA QLFS22Q4)


Help Us!


Support the organising efforts of our unemployed volunteers to achieve job creation, everyday help in our branches for the unemployed public. Donations to OfW are tax deductible. Find out more here.

Become a Branch Supporting Volunteer

Can you commit for 3 months to helping a branch achieve its goals of bringing jobs to the local area and helping members search for work. We would ask you to spend on average one hour a week at the branch in order to better grasp the issues on the ground.

Have an Old Computer?

We're always in need of laptops. Any laptop up to 12 years old is usually fine. While everything our members can do on our website is mobile phone friendly, some don't have phones at all. However, even the best smartphones aren't as convenient as using a computer to search, update CVs and for our volunteers to run the branch.

If you have a laptop to donate, we'll wipe it completely, install the Ubuntu operating system and get it ready to improve our members chances of finding work.

A workshop in Langa on making high volume job applications, 15 Nov 2018

Hire Our Members

Why not use the search above to hire nannies, handymen and women, security guards and many more.

A recruitment event in Langa, 10 Oct 2018

Other Ways to Help

Unemployment is such a huge and multi-factor problem, we can use all the help we can get. Other ways to help us can be found here.

Who Runs the Movement?

Our Many Unemployed Volunteers

The movement is run first and foremost by its many unemployed volunteers who are trained to run the branches that are within walking distance of where they live.

The Board

OfW was founded by Ayal Belling in collaboration with Luke Jordan on 13 August 2018 and was incorporated as a nonprofit in May 2019. Keren Ben Zeev joined Belling and Jordan at incorporation as a director of OfW. In September 2020, Pamela Silwana, a volunteer at our Gugulethu branch, replaced Jordan as a director. Ben Zeev served as director until June 2022 when she was replaced by Suzanne Solomons. The board centralises and helps coordinate the branches and advocacy.

Belling and Solomons are serving, and previously Ben Zeev and Jordan have served, pro bono. The movement has been funded from inception until January 2020 by Belling in his personal capacity. Small donations have been received from individuals since and a total of R450,000 has been received from the DG Murray Trust (R350,000) and from Open Society Foundation South Africa (R100,000).

Ayal Belling

Previously worked in finance and tech in London and Cape Town. Studied applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town and real estate investment at Cass Business School in London.

Pamela Silwana

Pamela Silwana started as volunteer staff at OfW's Gugulethu branch. She is the admin and founder of the Gugulethu community action network - part of Cape Town Together and is a fellow of a programme at the University of the Western Cape that is studying the response to Covid-19. She has been a peer facilitator at the National Youth Development Agency and Khulisa Social Solutions, has done fieldwork and admin for UCT and University of Stellenbosch. She also does occasional tutoring and childcare work.

Suzanne Solomons

Executive assistant at Inyathelo - The South African Institute for Advancement - which works to sustain and strengthen civil society organisations and grow local philanthropy in support of a vibrant democracy in South Africa. She holds degrees in community development and development studies and has a wealth of experience in supporting diverse types on nonprofits as well as in the field of mental health.