Co-founder, Dlala Nje Foundation
Faith in South Africa’s youth, being self-employed, and the desire to support local entrepreneurial business is what inspires Michal Luptak to make an impact on society.
Better known as “Loopy”, 31-year-old Luptak is the co-founder of The Dlala Nje Foundation, a non-profit social enterprise based in the Ponte Tower in downtown Johannesburg that offers a safe environment and community centre for inner-city children to do their homework, play and learn.
Dlala Nje means “just play” in isiZulu. The idea for the foundation was born when Luptak was looking for a way to provide an opportunity for the youth in the area to bloom.
“At the time I was working at a global audit consulting firm and living with a friend in Ponte City. We saw that people from elsewhere in Johannesburg were curious to find out more about our neighbourhood. So we started hosting tours through Ponte and its surrounding area,” says Luptak.
Through the revenue the tours generated, the community centre remained sustainable. The Dlala Nje Foundation (an NPO) was then set up to attract donor funding to generate a larger social impact.
“The ‘experiences business’ supports local entrepreneurs, who bring curious locals and internationals through our doors to give them an honest depiction of inner city living in Johannesburg. Our experiences business represents fair tourism, and challenges the negative perception of our people and area that is generated by the media and disparaging South Africans.
“Through the Dlala Nje Foundation, we aim to create opportunities for youth in our area by providing a platform where their potential can be developed.”
Luptak believes his greatest challenge in this role is encouraging more insular South Africans to explore their own public spaces, and convincing them that the impact that this will have on their personal development will be invaluable. — Linda Doke
Photo: Jono Wood