Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation

Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation – Organisation


South Africa


Western Cape


Cape Town


16 & 35 Ebor Road
Wynberg, Cape Town


A leading not for profit research and community engagement think-tank based in Cape Town, South Africa. SLF is not your ordinary non-profit organisation. We are social activists that work with township micro-enterprises as well as other marginalised voices and communities. Our grassroots engagements are rooted in original research by highly qualified staff, ensuring locally context-specific interventions and empowered communities involved in shaping their own future. Although SLF's project work is interrelated, it can be broadly classified into four themes namely informality, health participation, ecology & society and participatory engagement with citizen action groups. All SLF work is tied by the common goals of empowering communities to inspire change for pro-poor policies and the increased sustainability of local livelihoods.

Based on SLF's research under its flagship Formalising Informal Micro-enterprises project, SLF has pioneered a township census approach to develop a “whole economy” and “whole society” understanding of the South African township environment, compiling a database of over 9000 informal businesses in townships around the country. This has established SLF as the leading informal economy think tank in South Africa in a number of sectors. SLF's board consists of six experienced PhD graduates, three of which are currently leading SLF's thematic areas and are involved at the Foundation on a full time basis; a number of high calibre project managers hold Masters Degrees.

 The Foundation’s basic philosophy is that people know best and should be empowered to not only be agents of change in their communities, but should be encouraged to have the confidence and ability to exercise the critical, often forgotten, human right to have their voices heard. In poorer communities it is common for citizens to be further marginalised through the experience of top-down government interventions which are mostly disruptive, inadequately tailored and are more suited the government’s needs, rather than the needs of people living on the margins.
We also believe that addressing social ills requires creative measures and should involve a wide range of stakeholders. In the past and present, SLF has received funding from the Table Mountain Fund, USAID, South African Breweries, Target Tuberculosis, The Distell Foundation, The Rufford Foundation, and the Participate initiative led by the Institute of Development Studies (a participatory research focused think-tank based at the University of Sussex in the UK). We have also had meaningful project partnerships with Urban Works, STOP TB, Sonke Gender Justice, CORD Network, Hope 4 Destiny; African Centre for Citizenship & Justice (UCT), REDI3x3 at SALDRU (UCT), the Safety Lab, the University of the Western Cape, and the Association for Fairness in Trade.
SLF's work has been published in various academic publications and boasts numerous postings in popular media publications such as the Sunday Times, Rapport, Mail & Guardian, Cape Argus, Cape Times and the BBC website. We also distribute a quarterly newsletter to an internal organisational network and are active on multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). For more information about the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation please visit our website at or Facebook page, or contact Rory Liedeman on 083 745 7580.

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