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About Us

We are a young female empowerment house.

The DreamGirls Academy is a sisterhood of empowered women driven to empower other teen girls and young women. We support young females to move from economic dependency to self-sufficiency and become positive contributing members of a thriving society. We offer a wide range of female empowerment services in the form of structured mentorship programmes, personal development coaching, empowerment workshops & events, corporate employee volunteer programmes, financial study aid and outreach projects.

Our Story

DreamGirls Academy focuses on empowering and mentoring teen girls and young women in key areas of life.

DreamGirls Academy was established in Johannesburg on 6 November 2011 by a group of young black female professionals determined to build a sisterhood and legacy by making a positive impact on the lives of young women. The DreamGirls Academy provides a structured mentorship and empowerment programme that focuses on encouraging young women to educate themselves, plan for the future, fulfill their potential, and become successful well-rounded trailblazers and change-makers. On 17 March 2012, we launched the first mentorship programme at a school in Yeoville, Johannesburg, with a mere 30 girls and by the end of 2018, over 750 teen girls and young young women across Johannesburg, Cape Town, Welkom and Polokwane would have been empowered through the organisation and graduated from the mentorship programme. We have plans to extend our programmes countrywide and internationally.


Empowering young women from economic dependency to self-sufficiency

Team Work | Passion | Excellence | Leadership | Integrity | Empowerment


  • 1) Mentor and support teen girls and young women to gain an education as a foundation to set themselves up for a better future
  • 2) Provide access to education, professional and personal development information and opportunities
  • 3) Equip and empower young women to become economically active and positive contributing members to society


Make an impact

Become a Dream Builder

Make an impact on a girls life forever. Allow her to see the fruit of becoming who she really should be. Become a mentor with us.

Our flagship programme requires that female professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders adopt a Grade 11 or Grade 12 female student to mentor through a structured programme over eight months.

2019 mentorship applications are now closed. 2020 applications will open in December.

ReWrite Her Future with Us

Build the future with us

Partner with DreamGirls Academy to help us educate and empower more teen girls and young women

Skills, funding, time and knowledge is what we need to bring our areas of focus to life. There are a number of ways we would love for you to collaborate with us. Contact us to partner (financial and/or in-kind) or participate (mentor or become a speaker) in helping young females reach their dreams.

Contact Us:

Email: info@dreamgirlsacademy.com

Contact Number: 011 568 0943

Collaborate with us

Our Partners


Our Leadership Team


Founding Director and Board Member

Recognised as a Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans to Watch and World Economic Forum Global Shaper, Ezlyn Barends is an ambitious, highly organized and dynamic self-starter. With over 10 years professional experience spanning strategic planning, business development, marketing and social entrepreneurship, Ezlyn possesses a unique set of skills and diverse experience that enables a strong and broad business perspective. Extensive experience in creating and driving high performance teams whilst delivering bottom line benefits. Widely recognised for innovative approaches to problem-solving and exceptional leadership skills. Past experience ranges from Key Account Management for global multinational firms to social entrepreneurial ventures with an exceptional track record of building brands and organisational capabilities. Acknowledged as an effective change leader and for strong collaboration with business partners, commitment to quality and mentoring of young talent. Ezlyn holds a Bachelors in Business Administration, an MBA which she gained in the UK and a Certificate in Impact Investing from Oxford University. Self-driven, team-enabled, outcome-oriented.


Founding Director and Board Member

Mmabatho is a mathematician turned impact entrepreneur. At 20 years old, she formed Mathemaniacs, a tutoring company while completing her BSc Mathematics. With a passion for education and youth development, Mmabatho design CSI strategies impacting rural and disadvantaged schools.

Mmabatho was recognised as one of Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans and Forbes Women Africa as one of the Millennials to look out for in business in Africa. In 2014, Mmabatho joined Mandela Washington Fellowship’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a flagship program of former US President, Barack Obama. Through YALI, she studied Business and Entrepreneurship at Clark Atlanta University, meeting former first lady, Michelle Obama, to discuss her contribution to girl education in Africa.

Living a purposeful life, education, poverty eradication and using her talents to serve others, hence her passion for DreamGirls Academy and other impactful work in business.


Founding Director and Board Member

Marise Mackay holds a BA in Integrated Marketing Communications, specialising in Brand Management and Media Management with additional training in Finance through Henley Business School. Currently a Senior Product Manager within the beauty industry, she has close on 10 years experience in strategically developing and building a multitude of brands. Her ability to analyse business challenges to achieve success consistently is the result of radical strides toward growth and a trajectory of benchmarks for excellence.

The combination of strategy, creativity, and commitment to influence the lives of others fuels her relentless pursuit and passion to bring about positive social change. Education, exposure and an understanding of the role that aspiring leaders play serves as the guiding principles for her mentorship role within DreamGirls International Outreach and Mentoring Program.

Her love of art, yoga and running combined with a passion for design and travel is what keeps Marise busy in her spare time.


Executive Director

Michelle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Corporate Communication from the University of Johannesburg. As a family woman and proud mother, Michelle Pillay recognises the importance of developing the youth for a sustainable and prosperous future. With 14 years of experience in youth-related programmes, her influence began with representing the Johannesburg City Council as the Youth Awareness Chairperson. She later chaired the Community Service portfolio for Annirand at the University of Johannesburg, where she managed projects and funding initiatives.

Michelle is a Strategic Account Manager for a global consulting firm, responsible for developing partnerships and growing the company’s footprint across the African Network. Her positive nature, strong communication skills and ability to build and maintain relationships ultimately has fueled her passion for the youth and remains her main driving force.

Her larger-than-life attitude and faith extends to her hobbies, where she enjoys travelling and adrenaline-fuelled extreme sports.


Executive Director

Lebogang George holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Witwatersrand. A passion for youth empowerment and education, she uses law as a tool to advocate for the rights of the voiceless and marginalised. Combining law, leadership, and empowering young women led her to join DreamGirls Academy.

In 2013, she attended a Law and Logic course with Harvard Law School and the European University Institute, Italy. Identified as an ambitious leader, she attended Gordon Institute of Business Science’s Nexus Leadership Programme in 2016. Lebogang is a member of the Institute of Business Advisors of South Africa (IBASA).

In 2017, she was part of a legal task team advocating human rights in the Regional Lawyers Training on Litigating Women’s Rights before the African Commission on Human Rights and People’s Rights in Kenya. She is a Brightest Young Minds Alumni and part Mail & Guardian’s Africa Top 50 Botswana Change Maker. Lioness of Africa magazine recognised Lebogang as one of the continent’s top social entrepreneurs.

Lebo enjoys reading, writing, traveling, fashion, the love of the outdoors and family.


Executive Director

Natassia Katopodis is a dynamic business leader with over 14 years of multi-disciplinary experience spanning strategy, business development and leading cross- functional sales, and delivery teams, within the Information Technology sector. She is widely recognised as a top performer whose energy, innovative approach to problem solving and leadership capabilities, inspires and motivates her teams.

Relentless in her pursuit of empowering the next generation of female leaders, Natassia believes that freedom of choice can only truly be exercised in conjunction with financial independence. This fuelled her desire to join DreamGirls and support its mission to inspire and educate women of excellence, with a focus on encouraging participation in the fields of STEM. She is an anchor mentor of the women’s leadership programme at a multinational software giant, as well as a participant, and speaker, at various woman in technology forums. Natassia is an Accounts Director, and an aspiring entrepreneur, with a postgraduate in Business Management (Henley), Strategy and Financial management (INSEAD) and Information Systems Management qualifications.

Annual Reports

Annual Report 2018


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