R17 Ventures Addresses European Talent Gap with South African Hub and Apprenticeship Program

Zürich, Switzerland, 24th May 2024, King NewsWireR17 Ventures AG, the leading Swiss agency that has been named one of the fastest growing digital advertising agencies in the world, is solving the European talent shortage with its South African hub, founded three years ago, which has over 50 employees who work in the heart of the Cape Town CBD at their offices in the V&A Waterfront. The digital agency which also has offices in Baar and Zürich, offers an extensive apprenticeship program in Cape Town, which has been endorsed by the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, as well as several tertiary education institutions.

The agency, which receives over 20,000 job applications a year, put together what they call “a career accelerator program” – a paid internship and apprenticeship, that has top graduates and young industry professionals learn while they earn; using the Swiss apprenticeship model and exporting it to their offices in South Africa. The program, aptly named the R17 Academy, provides a curriculum of theoretical classes and practical projects designed to upskill young professionals into skilled performance marketing specialists and digital content creators – from the fundamentals of online advertising to platform tutorials and advanced strategy and problem solving.

Speaking about the R17 Academy, Raphael Rohner, CEO and founder of R17 Ventures said, “This is a project that I am incredibly proud of. We saw the opportunity to upskill and make a meaningful impact on the digital landscape, our company, and in South Africa where youth unemployment is at 40% and graduates are struggling to find jobs.”

He continues, “In the two years we’ve been running the R17 Academy, we’ve seen some impressive results – with three of our early graduates already leading teams.”

A spokesperson for the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa stated, “We truly love what R17 Ventures is doing in South Africa. Their commitment to Swiss excellence through providing a paid learnership opportunity and creating employment opportunities in this country has to be celebrated.”

They continued to say, “We have really enjoyed our partnership with R17. Their chairman, Marc Degen recently provided a keynote address as part of our St Gallen Symposium in South Africa and they have led a round table discussion around digital acquisition at an entrepreneurial event held in Pretoria. We are also in talks with their team to create a separate academy that can be used to upskill people from more impoverished communities in South Africa.”

Chanté Brand, who heads-up the R17 Academy and created the curriculum, says that to her what is paramount is ensuring that what she teaches is always up to date and in line with best industry practice, as well as platform and technology advancements. She attributes the success of the apprenticeship program to the company’s recruitment strategy and strong partnerships.”

With over 20,000 applications for the Academy every year, the team uses technology as part of its initial screening process, asking candidates to complete a set of tasks designed to explore their cognitive abilities, problem solving skills, business acumen and interpersonal skills at a basic level. Successful candidates then do a speed-dating style interview and present a case study. Upon success in this round, applicants move into the final round of interviews before embarking on the opportunity to accelerate their career. The recruitment process has been designed to find the best talent and serves as a feeder to the agency’s core team.

The R17 Academy has its own dedicated classroom at R17’s offices at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The classroom environment is the academy members’ first introduction to one of R17’s most important values: collaboration. The young apprentices learn to work together, brainstorm effectively, and build a strong team dynamic together. In addition, the R17 Academy team do team-building excursions outside of the office.

The program, which has been endorsed by a number of tertiary institutions, sees Rohner, Brand and various other members of the agency’s leadership do guest lectures at colleges like the University of Stellenbosch, Red & Yellow and IMM to name a few. 

While the digital agency’s story may seem unique, it’s not the first time that success has come from Swiss – South African collaboration. Some well-known examples include the Rembrandt Group / Richemont and Mediclinic / Horslande. In addition, two of the countries’ best exports are dual citizens to both nations: Roger Federer and Trevor Noah.

R17 may have been one the first digital agencies to explore expansion in South Africa, but it’s by no means the last. Over the last two years, multiple large international companies have also expanded to Cape Town – including Amazon and Google

For more information about R17 Ventures and their services, which include search engine advertising, paid social, content creation, email marketing, influencer marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), visit

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City: Zürich

Country: Switzerland

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