The Naked Difference: Surfpop is changing lives while catching waves

Surfpop are on a mission to change the lives of children living in townships. And it all starts with a surf lesson.

Surfpop runs a unique programme; it provides disadvantaged kids with a supportive, family-like environment. They participate in physical activities like surfing and beach clean ups, while prioritising after-school education in hope of improving marks at school. By supporting the kids through these two focus points, Surfpop aims to prepare them for sustainable employment as well as make them ambassadors in their communities for the importance of caring for nature and living a healthy lifestyle.

“Surfpop teaches us to be courageous in the ocean and in our dreams for the future,” says a Surfpop girl in high school.

The Surfpop children remain in the program for as long as they need to. For most children, this is until the end of high school, when Surfpop supports the graduates to transition into college or university, an internship or a job. However, even after graduation, the Surfpop graduates tend to remain closely connected to Surfpop as role models.

Some of the first kids to join Surfpop are making waves and getting diplomas

At the end of last year, Babongile matriculated and obtained an IT diploma at False Bay College and will continue to study at CPUT in 2023. Currently, Babongile is spending 2022 gaining experience with Surfpop as assistant surf coach, inspiring the younger Surfpop children. Asenako, the first girl to join Surfpop, matriculated and is finalising her Hospitality Management course at False Bay College. She is currently applying for internship positions through Surfpop’s network to gain work experience. She, too, is an example to the Surfpop children, showing them what’s possible.

At the end of 2020, the Surfpop kids managed to increase their Maths marks by more than 3% higher than the national average. And at the end of 2021, compared to their own average from 2020, their Maths marks improved by 10% while their English marks improved by 12%!

It’s not just about doing well at school, Surfpop aims to improve these kids' mental well-being and resilience

Surfpop uses a comprehensive learning, monitoring and evaluation toolkit to measure the outcomes and impact of what they do and to continuously improve their program. They conduct structured interviews and surveys with the Surfpop kids, their caregivers and the Surfpop teachers and surf coaches; collect and benchmark school results and gather detailed data on how the children are interacting with each activity on their online education programmes.

The results of the impact assessments that Surfpop have conducted show that the mental wellbeing of these children has significantly improved, in particular their outlook on the future.

Surfpop says that their resilience also improved; they are provided with a safe space, taught valuable coping skills and other skills that are important for the future, and feel more supported by friends.

“I come to Surfpop because I feel safe here. I can share my secrets with everyone and I can focus on myself,” says a young girl in primary school.

In addition to that, over 90% of guardians reported improved “prosocial behaviour” in their children. Prosocial behaviour refers to social behaviour that benefits others or a community as a whole.

Next to mental wellbeing, Surfpop also promotes the children’s physical health and environmental awareness. The children become water safe, learn to stand up on their surfboard and along the way, they learn the importance of caring for the ocean. “I like the beach clean-ups, because when you are a surfer, it is your responsibility to care for the ocean,” says one Surfpop child.

Finally, Surfpop children feel that they obtain improved future opportunities.

Surfpop is growing!

Surfpop would like to give 16 more children the chance to join Surfpop and grow the programme to 52 child beneficiaries, of who 50 percent will be girls! In April, Surfpop already welcomed 6 new children into the Surfpop family, and would like to give an additional 16 girls and boys from the townships of Masiphumelele and Ocean View, referred by foster care organizations, social workers and schools, that opportunity too.

All 52 children will come to Surfpop five days a week after school, where they will join two surf sessions per week that incorporate environmental awareness, two education sessions per week focused on Maths and English, and one session aimed at vocational training and life coaching.

Over the last years, Surfpop has worked hard to get to this point. Surfpop has learned from its impact assessments – using the outcomes of the assessments to make adjustments to their program, optimising and maximising their impact. Surfpop has also trained a strong qualified local team, who are excited and ready to welcome more children into the program.

How to get involved?

By selecting Surfpop as your Naked Difference beneficiary, you can support the Surfpop program and contribute towards a sustainable future for their learners. But there is more that you can do! Surfpop is always looking for volunteers who are able to assist in the class or in the surf. They are also always looking for organisations or businesses who are able to facilitate a vocational workshop or provide an internship opportunity that exposes the Surfpop learners to a different craft and/or career avenue. If you are keen to volunteer or facilitate a workshop or internship, reach out to Daniel at

What is the Naked Difference and how does it make Naked different from other insurers?

When you see or hear “Naked Difference”, Corporate Social Investment might be what comes to mind. But it shouldn’t. The Naked Difference isn’t the icing on the cake as far as social impact goes. The way we’ve built Naked means that causes benefit directly from the way we do business. We’re on a path to do good in an otherwise grudge-purchase industry.

We take a flat fee upfront to cover running costs and profit. The rest of the money goes towards claims, with leftover premiums at the end of the year paid to causes that our clients choose. This is different from other insurers, who take the leftover money as profit: we’ve removed the conflict of interest completely. This is the Naked Difference and it changes everything about insurance.

We’re really passionate about telling people about the Naked Difference and who it supports, so we’re featuring our causes to share what they do within South African communities.