Munich, 21 February 2024 – The Study Access Alliance (SAA) welcomes RLabs as its newest partner in our joint mission to expand educational opportunities for disadvantaged students in Africa. RLabs joins the ranks of partners such as IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU), Germany’s largest university with more than 130,000 students. The joint goal is to award a total of 2,000 scholarships for online bachelor’s programmes to young people in Africa by the end of 2024 and to raise further funding to increase the number of scholarship holders to 10,000.

Utilising the Youth Agency Market Place (Yoma), a digital marketplace that offers free online opportunities to skill and connect young people, the SAA-RLabs partnership will catalyse accessible higher education for young people who have traditionally lacked it, helping empower communities in need.

Yoma is a programme co-founded by UNICEF and Generation Unlimited (GenU), GIZ, Goodwall, and RLabs offering a variety of opportunities for young people via online and offline skilling programmes, guiding them in their learning-to-earning journeys, helping them create blockchain-based digital CVs, and matching with jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities. The SAA-RLabs partnership also marks the first expansion of Yoma’s scope to support young people to access fully-fledged online university degrees, marking a significant stride toward providing accessible education for disadvantaged young people in Africa.

“Ensuring equal access to quality, affordable higher education is a key target for SDG 4. Breaking barriers to higher education is crucial for ensuring equal opportunities for young people in the labour market,” said Nadi Albino, Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships, at Generation Unlimited. “With RLabs being a founding partner and driving force behind Yoma, we are excited about their new partnership with the Study Access Alliance (SAA). By prioritising equity, access, and focusing on upskilling in communities where opportunities to acquire market-relevant skills are lacking, we can pave the way for a more inclusive workforce that benefits all.”

In a first step, the scholarship offers are aimed at African Yoma users in South Africa and Nigeria who would be denied access to higher education without financial support.  In particular, young women pursuing a bachelor’s degree in IT and technology will be supported. The scholarships are awarded for online degree programmes at Germany’s largest university, IU International University of Applied Sciences – SAA’s founding academic partner and Europe’s leading edtech institution. This has the advantage for scholarship holders that they can study flexibly and from their hometowns, while remaining near their families and using what they have learned for positive impact within their communities.

Throughout their academic careers, students are supported by RLabs right on the ground with laptops, internet access, training, workshops, and a safe space to study. Christine Taphel, Chief Executive Officer of RLabs South Africa said: “The partnership with Study Access Alliance (SAA) is crucial to the mission of RLabs, as it promises to deliver world-class educational opportunities to youth who have traditionally been marginalised from such pathways. This collaboration not only opens doors to knowledge and learning but also significantly enhances the employability of these young individuals, equipping them with the skills and tools necessary to thrive in the global workforce.”

Those who receive a scholarship can start their distance learning at IU effective immediately. Students have access to all of IU’s robust university resources such as its exclusive AI-powered learn buddy, Syntea, study and career guidance, professors and tutors, as well as digital learning tools such as the IU Learn app and thousands of digitally available learning materials.

Carolin Kreuder, Executive Director of the Study Access Alliance said: “It is fundamental for the Study Access Alliance to make higher education with a focus on future viability and employability accessible to financially disadvantaged people in Africa on a large scale – not only for their own personal growth, but rather education reduces inequalities, solves the urgent need for digital skills and thus contributes to overall sustainable economic development. We are delighted to have RLabs on board with their valuable connections in the country.”

Currently, scholarship holders can join the more than 130,000 students at IU, which offers more than 50 English-language online bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. IU International University of Applied Sciences is the founding academic partner of the Study Access Alliance and offers online scholarships for less than 10 percent of regular tuition fees. The remaining amount for each scholarship is covered by SAA’s funding partners.

“We are excited to join the Study Access Alliance in welcoming RLabs as its latest partner. This venture, further bolstered by UNICEF and Generation Unlimited’s Yoma programme, unleashes a plethora of new opportunities for young people in Africa. With our vision of, everybody can access education to grow, we found it a natural fit to support SAA’s efforts to provide scholarships for young Africans. The combined efforts of SAA, RLabs, UNICEF, Generation Unlimited and IU allows for a personalised learning trajectory that aligns with the unique ambitions and needs of African students, crafting a lineage of tech-savvy minds,” said Dr Sven Schuett, CEO of IU International University of Applied Sciences.

Thanks to the combined efforts of SAA partners, several thousand degrees worth 42 million euros can be awarded under this new collaboration. To reach the total target of 10,000 scholarships, an additional 8 million euros still needs to be raised. The Study Access Alliance is therefore looking for additional like-minded sponsors and partners who will join the alliance to enable even more young people in Africa to participate socially and economically through access to higher education. There is particular interest in finding new funding partners and partner organisations that can provide students with training and internship opportunities to ensure a smooth transition into the labour market after graduation.

SAA is currently working with the following partners: Artsy Africa Academy (Uganda), HI² (Germany), HoteliersGuild (Switzerland), Mully Children’s Family (Kenya), TooShare (Senegal), CASBI (Kenya), NIfA (Germany) and, as of now, RLabs (South Africa). 

For more information and to be a part of this innovative and globally inclusive opportunity, reach out to:

Luise Wittmann, Study Access Alliance

About RLabs

RLabs is a South African and award-winning non-profit that was established in 2009 in Bridgetown, Cape Town. The main aim of RLabs is to create spaces where people can be impacted, empowered and transformed through HOPE, technology and innovation, training and economic opportunities. RLabs has since expanded its model and work to 24 countries across 5 continents impacting more than 60 million people. To date more than 2,500,000 community members have directly accessed the RLabs skills training and economic empowerment programmes.

About IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU)

With over 130,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-recognised educational institution with its headquarters in Erfurt began operations in 2000 and is now represented in more than 35 German cities. Students from over 190 nations design their studies according to their needs: whether practice-integrated dual studies, flexible distance learning or individual “myStudium”, which combines online self-study and campus life. IU wants to give people worldwide access to personalised education for a fulfilled and self-determined life. In more than 250 bachelor’s, master’s and MBA programmes, including over 50 in English, IU teaches students key skills relevant to the future. A digitally supported learning environment and the use of AI solutions help students to achieve optimal learning results and experiences. IU is one of the first universities in the world to have developed and deployed its own AI-supported learning buddy. IU cooperates with over 15,000 companies and supports them in the academic training of professionals. Partners include Motel One, Vodafone, AWO and Deutsche Bahn. Further information at:

About Study Access Alliance (SAA)

The Study Access Alliance is a scholarship provider for disadvantaged students in African countries who are financially unable to fund their university education. Initiated by the IU Group in 2022, the Study Access Alliance is a non-profit limited liability company (gGmbH). By collaborating with organizations such as NGOs, businesses, universities and education groups in Africa and beyond, students with a financial disadvantage are better supported directly and onsite. Current partners include Artsy Africa, CASBI, HI2, Mully Children’s Family, TooShare, NIfA and RLAbs. For more information, visit