A chat with 18twenty8 Founder, Refiloe Seseane

Inspiring Females

We find so much joy in connecting with and learning from remarkable females who we meet on our journey. In our second in our series of Q&A’s, we chat to Refiloe Seseane. Refiloe is the Founder of 18twenty8, which is an award-winning, women-led non-profit organisation that empowers young women between the ages of 18 and 28 by developing strategies for their educational and personal development. Have a read to see what Refiloe has to say about entrepreneurship, female upliftment and thoughts on what we could easily do to make a difference in this world. 

PS: During the month of May, in celebration of our 1st birthday, 10% of all our online sales will be donated to 18twenty8.


What inspired you to start 18twenty8?

The idea to start 18twenty8 came in October 2008 when, at age 28, I reflected on the previous ten years of my life and what I had accomplished academically, emotionally and professionally since the age of 18. I felt that I would have gone a lot further if I’d had someone mentoring and supporting me. So, when I turned 28, I decided to provide the support that I didn’t have when I was 18, to other 18-year-old girls. That is what inspired the name 18twenty8. Since May 2009 we have been striving to empower young women between the ages of 18 and 28, from disadvantaged backgrounds, by developing strategies for their educational and personal development. 

Being young, female and previously-disadvantaged ensures that our approach remains empathetic, skills-enhancing and relevant to the young women we serve since we have experienced some of our beneficiaries' challenges first-hand. Our objectives are to facilitate life-skills workshops for girls in Grade 11 and Grade 12 at high schools in marginalised communities; curb youth unemployment by recruiting and training community-based youth to facilitate our workshops; match our beneficiaries to empathetic mentors and academic role models through our Big Sister Network; provide financial assistance for the tertiary education of deserving young women and produce successive generations of educated women professionals in all sectors of the South African economy.

USAID recently reported that globally, only 37% of young women participate in the labour force, compared to 54% of young men. When young women are excluded from economic opportunities, gender inequality is reinforced, and they are less able to invest in their own health, education and safety.

There is a need for what 18twenty8 offers young women.

What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?

I enjoy learning and collaborating across sectors; the flexibility, creativity and growing from challenges and most importantly, making purposeful contributions to society and living a life of significance rather than a life of success.

What has been the biggest challenge running a non-profit and how have you overcome it?

Fundraising is a key priority that necessitates making adjustments as the economic climate changes. We’re always looking at ways to diversify our funding and be sustainable. We’re very grateful for the percentage of sales that Kaali is donating to us as part of their 1st birthday campaign. Thank you Kaali!

What is your ultimate dream for 18twenty8?

To expand our reach and impact young women globally.

What’s the best piece of career/ entrepreneurial advise you’ve received? 

Don’t expect anyone to do anything that you have not done, cannot do and will not do.

If you could sit next to anyone on a plane, who would it be and why?

Wynton Marsalis because he is a Jazz legend and I appreciate his work.

What do you love most about South Africa?

Our renewed optimism for her future. Her weather, landscapes, cuisine and cultural diversity are also awesome.

What’s your most treasured item in your wardrobe?

My fluffy gown and slippers... especially on days of the week that end with a “y”!

Tea or coffee?


Favourite city?

Cape Town

Favourite spot in Jo’burg?


What’s your one idea that all of us can easily start doing, to help empower and uplift our future female generations?

I have two:

  • Buy a girl the biography of an inspirational woman.
  • Buy a girl clothing that doesn’t have hooks, zips or buttons at the back so that she doesn’t grow up dependent on others for something as simple as dressing herself :)

A bit more about Refiloe…

Refiloe Seseane is the Founder of an award-winning, women-led, Non-Profit Organisation called 18twenty8, which empowers young women between the ages of 18 and 28. Refiloe is an actress, radio and TV personality and keynote speaker who uses her media profile to advocate for economic development. Refiloe holds a first-class Bachelor of Commerce degree in Economics and a postgraduate Economics degree from the University of South Africa. She was the top graduate in the Management Advancement Programme at Wits Business School before completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Financial Economics at Cardiff University in Wales.

To find out more about the 18twenty8 organisation, click here.



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