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New hope for skills development - South African startup secures international investment

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

BluLever Education secures seed investment to roll out a new approach to artisan training in South Africa.

23 July 2023 - Johannesburg - BluLever Education, a South African startup dedicated to transforming skills development and vocational training, is pleased to announce its recent success in securing significant seed investment from four new internationally renowned institutional impact investors and follow-on funding from several notable angel investors. This infusion of funds will allow BluLever Education to expand its operations, develop additional innovative training programmes, and address the urgent need for skilled artisans in South Africa.

The announcement comes at a crucial time for South Africa, as the country faces a dire skills shortage, particularly in the artisan sector. An “artisan” refers to a skilled worker who specialises in a particular trade such as plumbing, electrical, welding etc. The skills shortage in South Africa is made evident by the current youth unemployment rate. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2023, the unemployment rate was 62,1% for those aged 15-24. Globally, the artisan sector is a fundamental driver of economic growth and job creation and the second-largest employer in the developing world, but this job creation potential is not being fully harnessed in South Africa and across the continent. South Africa has a national target to develop 30,000 artisans per year in order to meet labour demands but current numbers are at 13,000, underscoring the critical need for demand-led vocational training programmes. BluLever Education aims to bridge this gap by offering apprenticeships (such as plumbing and electrical apprenticeships) and artisan business programmes that equip artisans with the in-demand skills that industry needs. In addition to these in-demand skills, BluLever programmes focus on helping young people develop the transferable skills that will allow them to build prosperous artisan careers.

In discussing the successful raise, Jess Roussos, co-founder and co-CEO of BluLever Education, explained that “to ensure that our seed round would allow us to truly create change in South Africa’s vocational training space, we knew that it would be critical to establish genuine partnerships with our investors - in the sense that we share a common vision, we are values aligned and we are equally committed to walking this challenging journey together. We’ve managed to do just that, which is why we’re incredibly proud to announce that we have secured new investment partnerships with the elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization, Autodesk Foundation, Oppenheimer Generations Foundation and A to Z Impact. These four distinguished organisations are known for their commitment to social impact and education and we’re thrilled to have them on board as investors in BluLever.”

“At the Autodesk Foundation, our mandate is to invest in innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. And to this end, we’re thrilled to back the BluLever team and the critical work they do. Each year, we review hundreds of companies, including many organizations tackling workforce development issues, but only bring a select few into our portfolio. It’s rare to see an organization that really understands its customers and stakeholders the way BluLever does. Whether helping apprentices gain new skills and move into upwardly mobile careers, cultivating employer partners to hire great talent and grow their businesses, or building BluLever’s industry-level influence it’s clear that BluLever is fully committed to the success of all its stakeholders,” Beth Foster-Chao, Autodesk Foundation Portfolio and Investment Manager.

Adam Collier, BluLever's Co-founder and Co-CEO, commented that “when our investment partners began to engage with our team during the due diligence process, a consistent theme in their feedback was the strength of our team and the passion, conviction and entrepreneurial spirit of our team members. It was clearly a powerful motivating factor for our investment partners and a testament to the incredible talent that now drives the success of BluLever Education.” BluLever Education's team is comprised of dedicated professionals with extensive experience in the education and training sector. The team's expertise in facilitation, curriculum development, industry partnerships, and student support has been instrumental in creating a robust learning ecosystem.

This investment round will enable BluLever to expand its training programmes to include multiple trades. With a successful apprenticeship programme already catering to over 200 plumbing apprentices, the startup aims to widen its impact by offering training in other in-demand trades such as electrical, automotive, and welding.

Looking forward, this significant investment lays the foundation for BluLever Education to achieve substantial growth and expand its reach even further. The startup is poised to disrupt the traditional model of skills development through its holistic approach, leveraging innovations in education, and forging strategic partnerships throughout the value chain. "We are deeply grateful for the support and confidence shown by our investors. With their partnership and our collective commitment, we are well-positioned to make a lasting impact on the lives of countless young people and continue contributing to the economic growth and prosperity of South Africa," said Adam.

For more information about BluLever Education and its innovative vocational training programmes, please visit


About BluLever Education

BluLever Education is a demand-led, connected and innovative South African vocational training startup dedicated to empowering Africa’s artisans through skills development. By offering comprehensive artisan business training programmes and apprenticeships in various trades, BluLever Education aims to bridge the skills gap and empower individuals to thrive in the workforce. With a focus on quality, innovation, and industry collaboration, BluLever Education is committed to transforming skills development in South Africa and beyond.

Press Contact

Dylan Bosman, BluLever Education Director of Marketing

Director of Marketing, BluLever Education

+27 61-669-5100

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