February, 2014 | Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
Lerato Nxomani Awarded Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

Lerato Nxomani Awarded Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

Lerato Nxomani 2One of our Fellows, Lerato Nxomani, was recently awarded a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. This postgraduate scholarship is available to students from all over Africa. In order to qualify Lerato had to prove that she espouses the values of leadership, education, reconciliation and entrepreneurship – the strongest values of the patrons, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Cecil John Rhodes.

Lerato will be studying an Honours degree in Economics at Rhodes University. This scholarship will cover her tuition, accommodation and books as well as a personal allowance. She will also have access to various leadership workshops throughout the year. The aim of these workshops is to create a sense of community among the Mandela Rhodes Scholars, build on existing leadership skills and develop vision for Africa.

The field of Economics interests Lerato because it offers her the opportunity to think deeply about what the South African economy needs to grow. Her thesis will explore the topics of skills development and unemployment among the youth. Her interest in the advancement of African youth becomes even clearer when she explains her reason for applying for the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. “I identified strongly with the values the scholarship espouses and I wanted to be in community with fellow African students who had a vision to restore glory to our continent,” says Lerato.

The selection process is known to be long and challenging. Lerato submitted her initial application in May 2013 and was only invited to an interview in November of that year. After initial screening by the university, applicants must submit extensive personal references and a leadership essay. Applicants who make it through these rounds are then invited for an interview with various members of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation Board. Lerato explains that this application process allowed her to sharpen her vision for personally contributing to Africa’s empowerment and success. She also adds, “I’m especially grateful to Phumlani Nkontwana for his glowing recommendation!”

When asked about her plans for the future Lerato simply says, “I don’t know … But I’m excited about the path that God is taking me on and the path He is revealing for me to be of service to Him and bring Him glory.”

New Scholars Join the Scholarship

New Scholars Join the Scholarship

Scholars Selection CampThe Allan Gray Scholarship aims to increase the number of Fellowship applications from high school learners by identifying entrepreneurial talent and financial need at primary school level. Learners who qualify as Scholars receive placement at a partner high school, financial support and access to the Foundation’s entrepreneurial and personal development programme.

2014 saw the placement of 30 new Scholars at our partner high schools: Collegiate (2), Clarendon (2), Grey (2), and Selbourne (2) in the Eastern Cape; King Edward (2), Pretoria Boys (1), St Alban’s (3), St Andrew’s (1) and St Mary’s(2) in Gauteng; Epworth (3) and Pietermaritzburg Girls (3) in KwaZulu-Natal; and Bishops (3), St Cyprian’s (3) and RustenburgGirls (2) in the Western Cape.

These Scholars were invited, along with their parents and guardians, to attend orientation events held in the Western Cape, Gauteng and  KwaZulu-Natal. At these events the Scholars and their custodians were acknowledged and celebrated for their efforts leading up to the awarding of the Scholarship. These events also served as information sessions for the parents and guardians to learn how they could provide support to the Scholars to ease their transition into a new high school environment. They were informed about the available support structures and the various opportunities at the individual schools as well as being given the opportunity to voice any concerns or ask questions.

“I have the great privilege and very rewarding experience of working with young leaders and observing their transformation. They display phenomenal growth and development from the time they are enrolled as Scholars right up to the time that they Matriculate,” says Scholarship Manager, Molefe Mohlamonyane. This and feedback from various stakeholders about their performance in academics, leadership and entrepreneurial thinking confirms the impact of the Foundation’s Scholarship Programme is making to Southern Africa’s next generation of responsible entrepreneurs. Molefe says that the Allan Gray Scholarship is indeed a life-changing opportunity.

Molefe’s hope for the 2014 Scholars is that they will see the potential in themselves that we have seen in them. The mere fact that they are now attending schools that they would otherwise not have had access to should already let them know that they are bright sparks.

It is the Foundation’s hope that the Scholars have a smooth transition into the high school environment and its Development Programme is specially designed to assist in this. Scholars are trained to become more aware of themselves and their contexts, which help them to deal with any challenges they may face during this transition phase in their lives.

Molefe says that he is confident that each of these 30 Scholars will make a significant impact on their immediate environments and that they will flourish in their high school careers and their journey towards greatness.  Welcome onboard to the future Matric Class of 2018.


Passionate about People Development

Passionate about People Development

Vuyiswa Doo

by Vuyiswa Doo

My passion has always been development, specifically, people development. This stems from the many evenings spent listening to my parents, members of the exile community, and people who welcomed us in the countries where we sought refuge. The stories that inspired me most were the ones that centred on Africa’s developmental challenges and the importance of education. The role of education in development is well documented and needs no further elaboration from me. I believe it to be the key that unlocks the inherent potential in all human beings.

A number of defining moments have shaped the woman I am today. Just before I turned three, I woke up one day to find that my parents were gone. We were living in Soweto with my grandmother who was also caught unawares by the sudden change in our living arrangements. She became the guardian of my younger brother and me. My memories of this period are scant, but I can vividly recall my gran’s instructions to me after she finally agreed for us to travel with an aunt to join our parents. “Look after your brother,” she said. I followed Gran’s Instructions to the letter and to this day they form part of my DNA.

By the age of seven I had already lived in Botswana, Zambia and England. By then I had also started school, adopting new languages – English for school, Xhosa for home and Nyanja and Sotho for playing with my friends. My childhood was the perfect breeding ground for learning adaptability and responsibility. These traits together with an intrinsic respect for others informs my engagement with all.

My journey has been characterised by my identification as an African and my contribution will always be framed within this context. The Foundation’s mandate speaks directly to this and to my ultimate aspiration: Africa’s sustainable development.

In my view this cannot be achieved without sound education. The Foundation’s mandate not only allows for increased access to sound education but also aims to elicit optimal performance from their beneficiaries through their various programmatic interventions. Ultimately, the Foundation’s mandate is not just about educating individuals but about creating a cadre of ambassadors who will act as catalysts for significant economic growth in Southern Africa.

It was this vision and mandate that drew me to the Foundation. I had previously worked within local government, the private sector and in nongovernmental organisations. No matter what my role I would always end up championing people development. It was no surprise then that the Foundation’s vision and mandate drew me to apply for the position of HR Manager. I did not realise just how much I wanted this role until I actually got it. It would be a privilege if, even in only some small way, I can contribute to the achievement of this mandate.

My first year at the Foundation has been challenging, exciting and fun. Best of all is that I get to work with a lovely group of people. I must admit to feeling old at times, but I do also love that I get to share the wisdom and experiences I have gained with the next generation of Africans who are just as passionate about Africa as I am.

After hours I am proud to slip into the role of mom, wife and daughter. Besides experimenting in the kitchen, every other free moment is devoted to spending time with family and friends and savouring the delights of this most beautiful city.



Entrepreneurship: If you think you can, or think you can’t, either way, you are right!

Entrepreneurship: If you think you can, or think you can’t, either way, you are right!

Fellowship Selection Camp 2013As a Foundation it is sometimes difficult for people to understand exactly what it is that we do.  When the vision describes  developing future entrepreneurs, it is easy to then simply assume that we are in the “business” of providing entrepreneurial training in the usual entrepreneurial milieu i.e. business plan writing, pitching, how to develop a sound business model and so forth.  All these are important skills which a would-be entrepreneur needs to acquire at some point in their entrepreneurial journey.  However, our work is about starting at the stage before one even realises that you have the inner spirit of the entrepreneur.  It starts at the point of where the entrepreneurial mindset is sparked.

The Fellowship journey begins through identifying and selecting those individuals who have the highest potential for entrepreneurship and fulfilling our shared vision at the outset of their university degree.   It is a long-term journey culminating, we hope, with these individuals, in the coming years being responsible for bringing about economic and societal transformation for the Southern African region and by extension, Africa.  But this long journey has to start somewhere and we have become convinced that the first steps need to be focused on developing the right entrepreneurial mindset. If we can get the thinking right then the action will follow.

Extensive works exists which argue both that entrepreneurship is either nature (entrepreneurs are born not created) or it can be nurtured (the requisite skills can be learnt).  At the Foundation we believe that in the long-term, similar to the scientific method, the entrepreneurial method will one day see commonplace adoption throughout the education sector and consequently society.  In a similar manner to science, everyone will receive a baseline of entrepreneurial mindset education, but this does not mean everyone will go on to become a rocket scientist or an entrepreneur, yet we all will have an  introduction and common entrepreneurial understanding, just as we have an introduction and common  understanding of science.  Until entrepreneurial mindset reaches this level of society wide exposure, we remain focused on ensuring that the undergraduate Fellowship Community understands the adage that action follows thought, and remain committed primarily within the “thought” space at university i.e. ensuring that Candidate Allan Gray Fellows are exposed to the mindsets which will open up the possibility of entrepreneurship for them.

As part of exploring the Foundation’s Shape the Future selection campaign for this year, over the next few months I will be outlining our key entrepreneurial values (our 5 Pillars) which are a core part of the Foundation’s DNA as well as introducing some of the attitudes that underpin the mindsets of the respective pillars

The Foundation’s 5 Pillars are:



Spirit of Significance A weight of personality that comes from living a life personified by passion and integrity.  Recognition that ultimate personal satisfaction comes from empowering oneself in order that one might be able to serve others.
Achievement Excellence The on-going pursuit of excellence with a tangible and specific focus on setting goals.  A motivation to make a difference and leave a mark.  To be bold, not looking back, but pressing forward in the pursuit of one’s goals.
Intellectual Imagination An enquiring and active mind demonstrated by an established record of intellectual achievement.  An ability to see the unseen, challenges the status quo and suggest that things could be done differently to create new opportunities.
Personal Initiative A person that makes things happen and celebrates the satisfaction of bringing new things into being.  Independent, proactive and self starting.  A person who is willing and able to make their own decisions.
Courageous Commitment The courage and dedication to continue, realising that applying consistent commitment has a way of overcoming.

To find out more about how our 5 Pillars help Allan Gray Fellows to Shape the Future visit  Allan Gray Fellowship



Namibian Scholars Awarded for Excellence

Namibian Scholars Awarded for Excellence

The Namibian Ministry of Education recently held an award ceremony to acknowledge and celebrate learners’ hard work during the 2013 National Examination. Two Allan Gray Scholars from Windhoek High School were awarded for their achievements in the Namibian Junior Secondary Certificate (Grade 10).

Julia Nampweya received the award for overall best learner in the six subjects of the Junior Secondary Certificate in the Khomas region. Namsov Community Trust and Standard Bank together awarded her with N$4000. Justice Sheehama, also of the Khomas region, received the award for second overall best learner in the six subjects of the Junior Secondary Certificate. She received N$3000 from Standard Bank.

Julia and Justice’s awards for overall best learner means that they outperformed their peers in the region; a Namibian region being similar to a South African province. This means that they had straight A’s(between 80% and 100%) and the highest percentage (within the 80%-100% bracket) for the specific subjects.

Their achievements are significant in light of the aims of the Scholarship Programme and the selection criteria of the Fellowship Programme. Scholars who exhibit outstanding academic performance have a better chance of qualifying for the Fellowship Programme and gaining access to their preferred university. Excellent academic performance among Scholars also goes a long way in cementing the relationship between the Foundation and their partner schools. This advances the placement of future Scholars as schools come to expect top performance from them.

We are very proud of Justice and Julia. They are both self-disciplined learners who are humble about their achievements and show great respect to everyone they encounter. Their performance has always exceeded the Foundation’s standards. Julia, for example, consistently achieves 100% in Entrepreneurship while Justice does the same in Accounting. Their respective average for the second term of last year was 87% and 96%. Despite the social challenges that they face as teenagers they’ve managed to retain a position among the school’s top ten learners every year. Their achievements are indicators of what we mean when we speak of the Foundation’s Pillar of Achievement Excellence.

Julia, in particular, is very deserving of this acknowledgement by the Namibian Ministry of Education. Upon finishing her national examination last year, she did school visits in her village to motivate the Grade 7 learners. In addition, she made arrangements to help learners that were struggling with Mathematics and Science.  She is courageous, proactive and already displays the characteristics of having a Spirit of Significance.

Both these Scholars have immense potential and we at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation in Namibia are excited to continue this journey towards greatness with them.

Shape the Future

Shape the Future

facebook_header1All people have the will to create encoded in their DNA.  It should thus come as no surprise that human kind has always held a great fascination with shape.  Early explorers and pioneers such as Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco Da Gama and Christopher Columbus first ventured around the globe, despite warnings that the earth was flat and that large areas of the ocean may contain dragons [Here Be Dragons (HBD) – ancient maps were marked in this way to indicate the potential of dragons being present in these uncharted areas].   For these individuals the benefits far outweighed the risk and through their courageous commitment, their names were forever cemented in history.    Not only were they explorers and pioneers, they literally changed the shape of the earth and thereby changed the shape of the future as new trade routes were established.  From a world that was initially thought to be flat, their collective efforts changed the nature of our understanding and opened up a whole, new, round world.

I recently wrote about the growth mindset as being a central question individuals should be asking themselves with regard to their entrepreneurial endeavours.  From this premise we can learn that in order to shape anything of substance, one needs to first decide whether you have a growth mindset or not?  Once you have decided that you do have a growth mindset, you can then decide on how you will Shape Your Future.

In modern times there have been a number of examples of individuals who shaped their own futures towards realising bigger dreams.  Individuals such as Mark Shuttleworth who shaped his future from humble beginnings in his parent’s garage, through the founding of Thawte Consulting and then eventually being the first South African in space.  While Mark’s surname may have been a predictor of his journey in life, one cannot deny that he imagined an alternative future, saw what was missing and then built and shaped his own journey to shape that future.   Ironically, Mark also founded HBD Venture Capital.  Whether as a throwback to those earlier pioneers who were not deterred by those maps from ancient times, or speaking towards his own determination to not be deterred by “dragons”.

Another example is that of South African businessman, Herman Mashaba, Founder of hair products company, Black Like Me, who faced his own set of “dragons” while shaping his future.  Mashaba started his company in 1985 under apartheid in South Africa.  His resilience was further tested by yet another “dragon” when his factory was raised to the ground in 1993.  However, Herman’s recognition that his life and destiny are a result of your own decisions and actions rather than a series of external factors, slayed those very “dragons” to rebuild Black Like Me into the company that it is today.

It is apparent from these two examples that those who shape their future, live in that future, understand what’s missing and just like the pioneers of long before, are not deterred by those “dragons” or detractors, whether imagined or real, that could prevent them from fulfilling their purpose.  Their purpose is central and their future is shaped towards the achievement of that purpose.

The Foundation has once again embarked on a journey to find those individuals who sense a bigger purpose for their lives and who want to help shape our collective futures.  This year we are challenging Grade 12 and 1st year university students to take up the challenge and Shape Your Future.    Shaping the future alongside the Foundation requires the following: Education, Ethics, Effort and Experience, all housed within the Allan Gray Fellowship opportunity.

So, do you have a growth mindset?  Are you up for the challenge to change the future of Southern Africa through societal and economic transformation?   Have you got what it takes to Shape Your Future?  Visit our website to find out how you can Shape Your Future with an Allan Gray Fellowship .

The most important question an entrepreneur can ask themselves? It’s all about mindset.

The most important question an entrepreneur can ask themselves? It’s all about mindset.

Anthony Farr’s latest blog published on Ventureburn.

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation National Jamboree, Spier, Western Cape.Every year at this time we are bombarded with numerous articles on New Year’s resolutions and goal setting for the year ahead.  And yet the average person makes the same New Year’s resolution ten separate times without success.  In a similar manner the entrepreneurial equation is equally hope depleting as business failures track at around nine out of every ten initiatives started. Imagine if one simple question could unlock the answer to greater success. Surely life is not that simple?

Delving into the stories of individuals who have achieved great significance in the world of entrepreneurship and business; people such as Mark Shuttleworth, Elon Musk and Herman Mashaba, what is it that made these individuals so successful?  Was it pure luck and serendipitous happenings?   Was it a special God-given gift or talent with which they were born?  Or was it something else – something in their character?

Character can be seen as a person’s propensity to think, feel, and act in ways that help them as well as others. Character strengths, variously described as life skills, soft skills, mindsets or non-cognitive factors, have long been considered vital for personal and professional success. Yet more recently claims about the importance of the often unheralded character strengths of persistence and resilience (bouncing back from adversity) have become increasingly compelling. In fact, as part of the work at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, this characteristic is one of the key pillars against which we assess and select young South Africans for possible future entrepreneurial activity and is an important determinant of success not only on our programmes for entrepreneurs but for life in general.

Part of the power of persistence and resilience is that it allows us to deal with the almost inevitable setbacks and to push through until achieving the ultimate outcome.  The famed Colonel Sanders was rejected 1009 times before he hit success with his fried chicken recipe.  Last year, Siya Xuza, an Allan Gray Fellow, was attempting to develop a micro-fuel cell large enough to power a cell phone in the laboratories of Harvard and MIT.   He failed 113 times in this pursuit, which could be equated to lifting a piece of paper the size of a sports field without tearing it (some of those individual failures each taking a number of days) before finally making the breakthrough that might fundamentally change how we access mobile power in the future.

But what makes a person willing to persist through so many failures, when so many others would have given up much earlier? The answer lies with our mindset and moves us closer to the intriguing question with which we started.

This ability to persevere even when it’s not going well is the hallmark of what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck terms a growth mindset. In this mindset, more important than believing in your own abilities, is to believe that you can improve these abilities. Her studies show that whether or not someone believes their intelligence or other characteristics are changeable directly affects their achievement.  Based on these findings we can essentially divide everyone into one of two categories: Those with a “fixed mindset” who believe that their capabilities are set and will not change, and those with a “growth mindset” who believe that they can improve their basic qualities through effort. Her research has shown that people with a “fixed mindset” miss opportunities for improvement; while those with a “growth mindset” experience the constant development of their abilities. It is this insight that leads us to potentially the most powerful question you can ask yourself:

”Do I have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?”

A growth mindset, in addition to much else, opens the door to developing greater perseverance and resilience[1], or  in the words of the Chinese proverb, Fall down seven times, stand up eight , and all the benefits which that aspect of character brings.

So interestingly, after so many significant breakthroughs in the understanding of entrepreneurial potential we can still not fault the wisdom of Calvin Coolidge from nearly a century ago: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not… Genius will not… Education will not… Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent”

 [1] Psychologist Angela Duckworth has dedicated herself to better understanding the power of resilience (Grit in American terms) and explains its magic and relationship to the growth mindset in this Ted Talk


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