Youth Café hopes to make hope possible

21 January 2014 - 02:35 By NASHIRA DAVIDS

Zlato, a new currency, has been introduced in Cape Town. It can buy coffee and muffins and even secure you a spot at a Harvard Business Schools seminar.

Yesterday, the Youth Café - a first of its kind in the country - opened its doors in the crime-ridden Mitchells Plain.

Youngsters register at the café and fill their digital wallets with credits or Zlato, which can be used to access a variety of facilities, including the internet, and even purchase a decent cup of Java.

According to the founder of RLabs, Marlon Parker, Zlato can be earned by doing good deeds such as cleaning a school, volunteering at an old age home or participating in sessions at the Youth Café.

The café is run in conjunction with Parker's NGO and the provincial social development department.

RLabs has facilitated partnerships with major corporates, including Google, and the NGO has empowered about 100 youngsters.

"This is a place where young people can get inspired, a place where hope can become possible," said Parker.

Courses on offer at the café includemobile app development and entrepreneurship.

Social d evelopment MEC Albert Fritz said the café wa s also a step towards reclaiming streets that have been seized by gangsters.

Also at the launch was Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, who implored the youth to take up the opportunities on offer.

"It is not enough to wish young people good luck. We must provide them with the tools, we must provide them with the space to create a better future," said De Lille.

Located in a shopping centre, the café is light years from the derelict surroundings.

It has brightly coloured walls, futuristic furniture, the latest technology and innovative spaces.

The "endeavour room" is filled with beach chairs, white sand and a surfboard where meetings can take place.