September, 2013 | Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
For the Common Good

For the Common Good

Common GoodThe Foundation identifies and encourages individuals who have the potential and appropriate attributes to excel as responsible entrepreneurs.  Our reason for being is to develop these future change agents as responsible entrepreneurs for the the Common Good.

What is the Common Good?

There are numerous social, philosophical and political definitions of this term, however, the one that best describes this notion and which resonates with the Foundation is one which comes from the body of work of Michael Sandel, Professor at Harvard University which, in a nutshell states, “the common good means to do what is best for the community as a whole.”  One could argue that this would mean different things for different people, however, for the Foundation it specifically means the inculcating of ethics and values within the Fellowship community with the firm belief that this will translate into much needed responsible entrepreneurs who will be able to create employment opportunities, improve living standards, make great strides to eliminate abject poverty and achieve a more equitable society for all.  In practical terms this can be summarised by the understanding that these individuals should be in the first instance, motivated by making a difference, rather than making money.  It is essential that a business makes a profit, but profit is secondary to purpose.

This might be a huge responsibility for these young future change agents to grasp, however, for Allan Gray Fellows, it needs to be embedded in the fibre of their being.  Regardless of their background, degree choice or initial job choices, the overarching guiding principle for Allan Gray Fellows who will go on to fulfil the long-term vision of the Foundation, is this achievement of purpose for the Common Good.  What is interesting about this approach is that it is characterised by a shift in focus from self to others, resulting in a connection to something greater than ourselves which is ultimately likely to make the endeavour far more probable to achieve success.

What does this mean for all of us as members of society who are current and future benefactors of this Common Good?  We all have a responsibility to ask ourselves, that central question which should underpin all that we do as individuals and as a collective, What is my purpose for being here? It’s something we at the Foundation grapple with and it is how we attempt to approach our work on a daily basis.  From what seems the most mundane task to the most complex of tasks performed, we continually ask ourselves, am I just doing a job, am I just here for my career, or am I here for a greater purpose? There is a Greek proverb which goes as follows:

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” – I would alter that slightly by saying that a society grows great when all the individuals who form part of that society plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

This,for us as a Foundation, is the starting point of our contribution to the Common Good.  We look forward to hearing about yours.

Learning from Role Models

Learning from Role Models

Mentor Connect WC 2013The Foundation values Mentoring and considers it to be an integral part of its Personal Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development Programme. Mentoring creates a unique opportunity for Candidate-Fellows to learn about themselves and the manner in which they interact with others on their entrepreneurial journey. From their first year to their fourth year each Candidate-Fellow is allocated two internal Mentors, one of which focuses on their Personal Leadership and Academic Development and the other which focuses on their Entrepreneurial Development. In their third and fourth year the Candidate-Fellows are allocated external Mentors. These individuals are leaders and experienced professionals from various industries. The Foundation recruits suitably qualified Mentors who have more than ten year’s work experience and the desire to pass on their knowledge, wisdom and experience to the next generation.  These Mentors have a firm belief in the Foundation’s vision and embody the values of the organisation.

This year the Mentoring Programme had 115 Candidate-Fellows that were matched to suitable Mentors. At the beginning of the year the Foundation hosted Mentor Connect events in all the support regions. This gave Candidate-Fellows and Mentors the opportunity to meet each other for the first time through a facilitated session, allowing them to set up an agreement on future face-to-face meetings. Finding a suitable Mentor and building a mutually beneficial relationship can initially be challenging, but most describe the engagement as rewarding further down the line.

One Fellow states that her mentor helped her break down the restrictions that she had placed on herself. She says: “He really changed my life and I think I am much more confident in my abilities professionally and at a social level because of him.” Another Fellow shared the following: “One of the most important things about my mentoring relationship is that I have never been provided with the answers I need, or a life guide on how to make a business successful. Instead I have been provided with the necessary tools and contacts, and the rest has been left up to me. Through my mentoring experience, I have come to believe that young people still have the open-mindedness and even naivety that can make the most innovative and creative ideas possible.”

Mentoring is a rich experience for both the Mentors and mentees. One Mentor shared his experience: “Each mentee assigned to me over this period has been an exceptional individual. Not only are they very intelligent, but they are curious, eager to learn, grateful for the opportunity and generally quite charming people.”

Experienced volunteers who want to get involved with the Foundation’s Mentoring Programme can apply online:

Working at the Foundation is a Calling

Working at the Foundation is a Calling

TalentSeminar-51Beverley Fanella, born in the Eastern Cape, studied BPsych (Counselling) at Stellenbosch University and is currently enrolled for MPhil in Higher Education. Her key areas of expertise include identifying trends in higher education and the educational sector, and recruitment strategies (including bursary programmes, first generation students research and interventions).

Why do you work for the Foundation?

When applying for the position of Scholarship Selection Manager at the Foundation, I wrote in my cover letter: “My name is Beverley Fanella, and I am absolutely convinced I am supposed to be your next Selection Manager.” From the moment I made the decision that it was time to move on from my position as Recruitment Manager at Stellenbosch University, I knew the only other organisation I could imagine working for was the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. I researched every aspect, and I waited with bated breath to hear whether I had been appointed. On my first day as Selection Manager, Anthony Farr (CEO) made the following statement in his talent seminar opening address: “Working at the Foundation is a calling, not a job, or career” – and that is why I am here. I see myself as an individual pursuing her calling to be an educational pioneer and leader. I appreciate a working environment where mutual respect and consideration are the order of the day – and every fibre of the Foundation speaks to this.

How has your own life journey contributed to your career decision?

I started at Stellenbosch University in 2004 when I joined its Centre for Prospective Students, and over the last four years worked my way up to Recruitment Manager. The day I realised I had reached my ceiling, I knew I needed to reassess my options, reflect on how I had spent the past few years and how I intended to spend the next phase of my career and life. I spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on my career path, and the one thing that was absolutely clear was that my next career move had to be speak to my “calling”, which I believe is to provide educational alternatives to those with the tenacity to survive the realities of their communities and our troubled schooling system.  On a personal note, I am one of those who were ‘caught’, and in a sense my career trajectory is determined by the extent to which I can pay it forward and catch other young people like I was caught.

What are your hopes and dreams for South Africa (specifically referring to education and entrepreneurship)?

My moto over the last 10 years has been: Access with success. My dream for South Africa is that every educational institution will provide access with success – from primary schools and high schools, to higher education institutions. I dream of national benchmarking (including the National Senior Certificate examination) speaking to the wonder of a transformed educational system, of graduate throughput rates that indicate we are producing the right graduates based on changing labour market trends. I dream of more schools like Crystal House, Leap Academy, COSAT, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy appearing in areas like Woodstock and Khayelitsha – providing quality schooling ranked amongst the best. Finally, I dream of a type of national educational leadership that says: this is our calling – to provide access with success.

Starting Young

Starting Young

As part of their development, Allan Gray Scholars are given practical tasks to help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset. The Grade 9 Scholars were tasked with two challenges upon leaving their Grade 9 camp this year. Their first task was to meet and interview an entrepreneur and then present their findings to other Scholars. The second task was to think of how they can generate profit by investing R50 of their own pocket money into a product or service.

The Scholars were very courageous in contacting and connecting with entrepreneurs; this can be quite daunting for a 15 year old. The majority of Scholars were impacted by the entrepreneurs’ friendliness and willingness to meet them and share their experiences. The aim was for them to understand how their tertiary education and career path could lead to their entrepreneurial success. One of our Cape Town Scholars, Quartal-Ain, met with an investment consultant who started his own investment company. The investment consultant’s passion led to Quartel now considering academic choices towards the investment field. Another Scholar, Laaiqah, interviewed the CEO of Vital. She was amazed at the history of the business and inspired by the values that govern the organisation, which has made her consider her own personal values and the role they play in her future career choice.

The second challenge for Scholars has thus far produced several initiatives. Some of the Gauteng Scholars have been creative, such as Rahul who has written two online books and Deane who started offering pony rides at the local market on Saturdays. Deane’s creativity was driven by not being allowed to sell products on the school premises; he is, however, having trouble with the pony since it becomes grumpy and bites at times!

It has been incredible to see how Scholars are willing to take initiative and even a bit of risk. They have learnt that creating opportunity and trying out their ideas, more than often than not, works in their favour. It also builds confidence in them as a person, as they begin to recognise their skills and see the value of translating their ideas into something that benefits a customer.

Scholars Development Camp - Suzie

Ideas Ignite – Fellowship National Jamboree

Ideas Ignite – Fellowship National Jamboree

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation National Jamboree, Spier, Western Cape.Two-hundred-and-forty of the country’s brightest young potential met at the annual Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Jamboree at Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch on the 20th and 21st July for a weekend filled with creative exchanges and collective contribution to conversation topics. Conceptualised in 2011, this is an event that brings all Fellows from different regions in South Africa and different fields of study together to build on ideas influenced by the colourful association of varied backgrounds and specialities.

The third Jamboree was of the highest quality thus far, with excellent speakers such as Michael Jordaan, ex FNB all-star and industry MVP several years running. Ideas were a class above and pitches were delivered confidently, making the 2013 Jamboree a huge success.

The Jamboree is the ultimate Fellowship experience. Its value lies not just in the two day event, but also in the Fellowship’s Entrepreneurial Leadership curriculum that supports it. This being the third Jamboree iteration, it has set the bar for future greatness within the Foundation and created an opportunity to showcase the possibilities arising from bringing entrepreneurially-talented Fellows together in a designated area.

Our colleague and friend- James Thomas

Our colleague and friend- James Thomas

James ThomasOur colleague and friend, James Thomas, worked at the Foundation from 2010 to 2013. He passed away in the most untimely and devastating fashion in the 9/22 massacre in Nairobi while there on a work assignment. James’ embodied the Foundation’s pillar of the Spirit of Significance in that all that he did in his life, motivated by how he could best contribute to the shaping of a powerful legacy. James was passionate and driven by integrity working his whole life to serve others while showing total humility in all his achievements. At the Foundation he worked in the Organisational Development department contributing to a range of projects – some of which were initiated by him. These include the iShift online entrepreneurial mindset development platform; curriculum for the Scholars Programme, input into the Circle of Excellence programmes, leadership development camps, Namibia Foundation curriculum and camp development; and selection camp assessment processes. The Foundation Talent, Candidate-Fellows, Scholars and Fellows will benefit from the legacy of James’ work, experience, enthusiasm and creativity for many years to come.

James Thomas Allan Gray Orbis Foundation 2012 Scholars Selection Camp Western Cape Allan Gray Orbis Foundation 2012 Scholars Selection Camp Western Cape James Thomas James Thomas James Thomas


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