“Turn on the hustle” and leave a legacy

“Turn on the hustle” and leave a legacy

At the opening of the 2016 Youth Month, Minister Jeff Radebe reminisced and celebrated the heroes of ’76. Along with quoting the likes of Moses Kotane, Solomon Mahlangu and Franz Fanon, who encouraged young people to “discover their mission” and either “fulfil it or betray it”, he spoke about the Youth Month Programme that has been put in place and will be run across the country throughout the Month of June.

soweto-editedWith 2016 being the 40th Year since the 1976 youth uprisings, it is high time for all young people to reflect on what mark they will leave and how they want to be remembered. Reaching a point of ultimate clarity about what one wants to leave behind is of course dependent on circumstances but need not be dictated by them. It is with this in mind that young people should consider the possibilities, opportunities and resources that are indeed available in South Africa. One such resource is the National Youth Policy 2020 that makes it possible for all youth to participate in skills development, education and economic reform. This policy allows for programmes that promote youth development, access to information and entrepreneurship; they are offered through the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the newly established Youth Development Institute of South Africa (YDISA). The NYDA is the biggest government-driven youth agency, but there are many other private organisations whose sole mandate it is to provide start-up capital, mentoring and incubation to young entrepreneurs.

The born-free generation has taught me that today’s youth is not just standing back and letting things happen. They know how to hustle. There is a kind of fire that burns within them and a willingness to go out there, find and take up opportunities, try things out, take risks, fail, try again and continue asking questions. All these qualities are associated with successful entrepreneurship. All of these can be seen in the way young people are taking ownership of their education through demanding that which is known as a basic right, and being the ones that question what has, for generations, been known as the status quo. Young people are trying out new ways of creating social impact, whether this be through building businesses that employ others or through establishing organisations that promote social change. Although there is still a high number of unemployed youth and although South African youth have been said to be less skilled than their parents were (according to Statistics South Africa), I am hopeful that this new wave of “hustling” will be the one that changes things for the future of our country.

In our 2015 article titled What does the youth of ’76 teach us about entrepreneurship?, young people were encouraged to do three things: boost their educational qualifications, turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones and keep looking. But what happens when you have done all three?  Your next step is to re-evaluate your reasons for doing everything that you have been doing. Why have you placed yourself in the position that you have and what significant mark are you going to make in South Africa?

hqdefaultThis Youth Month, the NYDA will be running a number of programmes throughout the country and I encourage everyone to participate actively. For more information on the NYDA Youth Month Programme, follow the following link: NYDA Youth Month Programme.

A challenge to all youth is to continue to be inquisitive and responsible in the actions that are taken when addressing issues of immeasurable importance. Now is the time for you as a young person to leave your mark. When you look back one day, what will your legacy be?

 

By: Lethabo Tloubata

 

 

More Than Just A Weekend Away

More Than Just A Weekend Away

IMG_3232What happens when you take a couple of 20-year-olds in their second year of university to Hermanus and ask them to talk about two things: significance and community? You get a mixed bag of cold showers, constructive conflict, creative collaboration, moments of clarity about oneself and a deeper appreciation of and desire to impact community.

Between the 1st and 3rd of April 2016, groggy Year Equip Candidate Fellows travelled to the Habonim Campsite. Aside from the excitement that travelling usually brings, there was also the anticipation of seeing the entire Year Equip group (from all over South Africa) again – after almost a year. In the words of Pfano Nevhutalu, a Year Equip, “It was refreshing … I felt more connected and integrated into the Foundation community.”

A key focus during this Camp Connect would be discussing, understanding and learning to life one of the Foundation’s Five Pillars, the Spirit of Significance. We would learn how crucial connecting would be to future socially impactful entrepreneurs. That is, connecting with ourselves, our fellow Candidate Fellows and the greater community, both within the Foundation and the greater society.

And thus we embarked on a three-day ideation and relationship building experience. We developed a camp programme for the Grade 8 and 9 Scholars that would ease their transition from primary school to high school and inspire them to eventually become Candidate Fellows as well – all in a day’s work! After a rather fun and successful interaction with the Scholars, we had to put our thinking caps back on for the next objective – working on our Legacy Project. After hours of working, putting egos aside and midnight reconfigurations of the democratic institution of voting, we finally agreed on and pitched the Legacy Project we would undertake in the next year.

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With any collaborative effort comes the temptation of forgetting that one is dealing with fellow human beings. It was quite appropriate then that one of our last sessions was dedicated to sharing our defining moments – the stories of moments that turned our lives around. It granted us the opportunity to connect on a more empathetic level and realise that we are all deserving of greatness.

Despite or perhaps because of the constructive conflicts, late nights and freezing morning showers by the sea, we gained a better understanding of what the Spirit of Significance encompasses: getting to know yourself in your entirety and how you can use yourself to empower others.

by  Foyin Ogunrombi & Olerato Mogomotsi

The Role of the Association

The Role of the Association

AGO(16.04.24) 442 copyThe Association of Allan Gray Fellows is the community of Fellows who have successfully completed the four year university based Fellowship, and its goals are to support Fellow endeavour with the purpose of reduction of poverty and a more equitable South African society.

It is the belief of the entire Allan Gray Orbis Foundation (“Foundation”), that in order to achieve this purpose, we need to “Activate responsible entrepreneurship for the common good …through realising the power of the Association … a community of highly engaged individuals driven by a clear common purpose.” – CEO Anthony Farr.

In light of this, the objectives of the Association community have been stated as a badge of honour, a unifying responsibility that is keenly felt by all members. “The overall objective of the Association is to alleviate poverty through creating responsible high-impact entrepreneurs in Southern Africa” – Mbali Sikakana, Association President.

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Association Community
The journey for some of our community begins as early as High School – brought into the Foundation’s curricula through the Scholarship programme – before the majority of our Association members are selected for the Fellowship programme for their four years of university study. The Fellowship aims to develop well-educated, balanced and responsible citizens, who are selected for – and coached to improve – their entrepreneurial competencies required to successfully achieve high-impact.

History

The Association began in 2008 with the first group of Allan Gray Fellows being admitted into the Association of Allan Gray Fellows. This group was made up of just eight individuals, and now in 2016 the Association has grown to just shy of 300. Once an Allan Gray Fellow enters the Association, they will remain a member of this community for life.

Role of Association

The Association serves to foster and maintain the relationship between the Foundation and the Fellows, as well as to further develop Fellows through new learning opportunities, a connected and functional community and an environment wherein responsible entrepreneurship is given the best chance to succeed.

The Association is co-led by the Fellows and the Foundation. Every two years a new Executive Committee of Fellows (“ExCo”) is voted in by the entire community. The ExCo identifies and creates a variety of world-class opportunities for the Fellows’ entrepreneurial development, and fosters a functional community striving to grow together for the greater good. In order to best achieve this, the Association’s activities are split across three main focus areas – Ventures, Community and Leadership.

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Ventures

The Association’s primary role: to equip and support Fellows to start and grow high-impact enterprises. As Fellows with work experience, Association members typically require support in their entrepreneurship endevours, particularly when it means the loss of stable income to take the risk. The Ventures Committee’s role is to support members through all stages of business development and indeed the full business lifecycle. The needs of the Association will change over time as Fellow businesses grow and mature; but currently the focus is on start-up support – delivered through a world-class pre-Accelerator programme called IVC (Ideation, Validation and Creation), as well as a fulltime Start-up Accelerator.

AGO(16.04.24) 41Community
Starting a business is hard. Starting a business in isolation is near impossible. Part of the role of the Association is to ensure a strong network is built between Fellows, with a shared vision to foster genuine support between members through our diversity and meaningful relationships.

 

 

 

Leadership
The Leadership portfolio provides life-long learning opportunities and professional development for Fellows, and is also tasked with maintaining Association focus on responsible entrepreneurship. This awareness of societal ills, poverty and inequality and the belief that business should be used as a force for good is what differentiates the community.

 

 

 

The Value of Experience  By Wayne Coetzee

The Value of Experience By Wayne Coetzee

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.13.16 AMThe Foundation’s ethos or shared fundamentals, is made up of its tactical focus on Education and Experience complemented by the personal traits of Effort and Ethics. The Foundation’s approach to cultivating entrepreneurs therefore includes experience as part of the beneficiary’s journey. Guest writer, Wayne Coetzee, from the School of Global Studies, Gothenburg, Sweden, shares why experience is vital, specially for students. His study focuses specifically on the value of internships.

 

In a time of financial crisis, competition is a hard reality for anyone wanting to enter the job market, especially for aspiring young professionals. Due to fierce competition from seasoned professionals and early career candidates, students need to go beyond the basic requirements––they need to possess both academic merit and work experience. Internships provide aspiring young professionals with the prospect to achieve the latter by offering opportunities to those that want to pursue careers that match academic and personal interests. From a strategic perspective, internships open doors. From a personal development perspective, they foster skills and build character. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Take Sweden as an example. In most university programmes, students are required to pursue a four-month internship at an organisation of their choice. The aim of this initiative is three-fold: One, it provides students with a unique opportunity to gain practical work experience in their field of interest. Upon completion, most students explain how practical application helped and even strengthened theoretical knowledge, and vice versa. As an educator at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, I have witnessed first-hand how internships have transformed students into well-rounded individuals. Those that have completed their four-month stints usually display strong teamwork skills, a sense of urgency, a more developed understanding of individual responsibility, greater adaptability, improved analytical skills, and the ability to complete tasks in a timely and professional manner. In short, the result is almost always positive.

Two, internships provide students with the opportunity to build strategic networks outside of the traditional classroom environment. These networks essentially allow them to get closer to the labour market. Professor Per Assmo, the Director of the International Programme for Politics and Economics at University West, Sweden, asserts that internships are an important part of gaining employment. “The experience shows that over the last four-to-five years, between seventy and eighty per cent of those that did internships received a job at that location. One can thus conclude that internships are an entry ticket to the labour market.” But not only do internships provide an opportunity to build networks, it also provides an opportunity to add value to existing networks. Erik Andersson, a coordinator of the Masters Programme in Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, notes that students often underestimate their capacity to strengthen networks in the work market. ‘Over the years, students have told me that they didn’t realise they knew so much, and they didn’t realise that they could actually add value to existing networks to the extent they do. This is a common theme in student feedback after their internships.”

Three, while internships are a gateway to future employment in an organisation, and a unique recruitment platform for companies, they also provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools to pursue other endeavours. This is particularly relevant in societies and communities where they are potential job creators. As one Greek exchange student in Sweden explains: “In my country, where thousands of young people are unemployed, I want to be a job creator. I want to create jobs that could benefit others in the long-term. The internship programme provided me with the opportunity to learn from visionary leaders, and it provided me with the right tools. From such a foundation, I feel more confident to start my own business because I have seen first-hand how things work in practice.”

Despite the on-going and innovative modification of academic curriculums, most universities around the world are not set-up to teach students how to become business leaders or independent employees. This is where internships are particularly useful for professional development. The exposure to real-world problems provides candidates with critical insights of how to deal with issues that are not always well defined or anticipated in academic literature.

Even if universities have internal mentoring programmes, they often lack the capacity and flexibility to provide one-on-one training, which is something that internships usually provide. In a globalised world where systems and processes continuously change, internships closes the knowledge gap by providing interns with much-needed experience, adaptability, and creativity in changing environments. Although revolving door practices have meant that professionals move between corporate, state, and academic structures––spreading invaluable knowledge and experience––they do not always transpire in rapid succession, which means that there is a potential time-knowledge gap in tertiary education. In other words, what was relevant in a specific industry five years ago may not be relevant today. The only way students can get the most up-to-date insights and experiences is by doing an internship at an organisation that deals with their subject matter on daily basis.

If possible, students should try to do more than one internship in order to gain as much experience as possible. Two or more internships can provide students with a better understanding of what it is like to work in different professional environments, with various types of people, and diverse industry-specific challenges. To that end, it provides them with the opportunity to evaluate and compare, which is only possible if one has personal experience.

While internships provide a host of opportunities, and commonly strengthen key skill sets, they do not guarantee success, nor do they promise to ignite interest. Like most endeavours in life, it is up to the student to make the most of their experience. That said, there are practical challenges to doing an internship, such as the difference between paid and unpaid internships, the duration and location of internships, and the awkward balancing act between internship responsibilities and coursework etc. There are no easy solutions to such predicaments, especially not in South Africa where universities do not always facilitate internship programmes. Furthermore, in a country with uneven economic development and unequal opportunity such as South Africa there are legitimate concerns that individuals with greater access to resources will have more freedom to pursue internships. But those who are able to overcome the aforementioned obstacles should take some comfort in knowing that internships often level the playing field. If administered correctly, they provide equal opportunity to those that want to get their feet wet. The value of this experience should not be underestimated.

 

From ordinary to extraordinary through an entrepreneurial mindset

From ordinary to extraordinary through an entrepreneurial mindset

In the latter part of my high school years, I had a conversation with my father about a fad that was heavily-influencing my classmates and causing them to make life (and body altering) decisions. That fad was body piercing and tattooing. My father listened silently as I justified my curiosity with the trend and tried to convince him that the visual expression of my individuality, through the modification of my physical attributes, would help me leave my mark on the world…and other less obvious places. My father refusal was expressed in the words: “Some of the most extraordinary people are the most ordinary looking.”

Let’s turn our attention from tattoos and body-piercing for a moment and instead explore how the Entrepreneurial Mindset can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

In a ground-breaking presentation, Gary Schoeniger, Founder of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, acknowledged that while there remain challenges in the way in which entrepreneurship is defined – both from an academic and economic development perspective – entrepreneurship begins with a mindset that exposes opportunity and ignites ambition. The Entrepreneurial Mindset is not formulaic; it is a consequence of the common logic, beliefs and assumptions that drive behaviour and transcend business school paradigms.

Schoeniger defines entrepreneurship, very simply, as opportunity discovery. He goes on to say that the Entrepreneurial Mindset inspires regardless of circumstance and that it is choices rather than circumstances that form the foundation for successful entrepreneurs. A point elaborated upon later.

Schoeniger’s convictions in fostering the Entrepreneurial Mindset are not based only on the growing economic justifications for entrepreneurship – such as that all net job growth results from entrepreneurship or that policy makers are increasingly turning their attention to the long-term benefits of entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneurial Mindset is indispensable in today’s rapidly-changing environment and gives us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves by connecting with the environment through the creation of something useful for others. The Entrepreneurial Mindset encourages us to start where we are, with what we have and who we know. It is rooted in the four processes, illustrated below.

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Here are some practical suggestions on how you can kick-start each step in the process.

  1. Interaction – get yourself out there. Join mailing lists, follow the tweets, blogs and social media posts of entrepreneurial networks; attend events; arrange visits to other entrepreneurs’ businesses
  1. Observation – open your eyes and take notes. After visiting different projects and businesses you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. It’s all about flattening your learning curve.
  1. Experimentation – or in the words of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman – Just do it! Take action. Start where you are, with what you have and who you know.
  1. Adaptation – tweak it. After the wonderful (and not so wonderful) lessons you would have learnt from others in Step 2 (observation) and from your own experimentation (Step 3), take time to reflect. Keep what works and change what doesn’t. Ask others for input.

Understanding this process and the eight components of Schoeniger’s entrepreneurial curriculum, below, will unlock your Entrepreneurial Mindset.

  1. Power to choose. This is the most important component as all others flow from it. Realise that it is choices rather than circumstances that determine your success so choose the responses to your circumstances carefully.
  2. Recognise problems as solutions. Successful entrepreneurs solve other people’s problems
  3. Action. Test your ideas in the real world
  4. Entrepreneurship is about self-directed and life-long learning
  5. Financial literacy. Run your business close to the bone – especially in the early days.
  6. Build a brand that delivers and is reliable
  7. Build a success community made up of people who have been on or are on a similar journey as you.
  8. Persistence. It takes years to become an over-night success.

Unlocking the Entrepreneurial Mindset will move you from ordinary to extraordinary by letting you leave an indelible mark on the world rather than yourself. Unless, of course, you are a tattoo artist with a $1-bn global empire – in which case ink yourself away!

 

Entrepreneurship in schools Part 2 | Gabriella Geffen

Entrepreneurship in schools Part 2 | Gabriella Geffen

On Tuesday, I wrote about the organs of an Entrepreneurial culture, and the need to develop entrepreneurial mindsets from a very early age. Today I will contextualise the Entrepreneurship in Schools Initiative within the national macro strategy for Entrepreneurship in South Africa.

In 2011, former Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, together with the Human Resources Development Council of South Africa (HRDC SA) established nine task teams to address some of the main issues that South Africa is facing. One of these, was the Enabling Entrepreneurship Technical Task Team, which Dr. Taddy Blecher was asked to chair. The mandate of the task team was to develop a set of national recommendations to make South Africa more entrepreneurial and vastly reduce youth unemployment, which is the third highest in the world.

The Task Team is working across the entire ecosystem – from schools, universities and colleges, to the small business space – because enabling entrepreneurship requires a multi-pronged, multi-faceted strategy. Furthermore, to achieve maximum impact, all stakeholders, from the social, private and government sectors need to be involved and connected in their vision and strategic implementation.

The following interventions have been created, and are being continually revised, in order to develop South Africa into an entrepreneurial nation.

In schools:

  • Through the Department of Basic Education, Entrepreneurship is going to be implemented as a key mindset within each subject
  • There is going to be significant focus (curricular and extra curricular) on developing entrepreneurial skills in learners through business clubs, competitions, entrepreneurial olympiads and entrepreneurial teachers’ awards
  • The approach is to reach students and teachers through education technology in order to have maximum efficiency, reach, minimum cost, and undiluted impact. Specific tech-enabled solutions are also being developed for lower income schools with limited access to resources

kids with ipad

  • The aim is to generate excitement around Entrepreneurship among the youth, by including gamification and practical, hands-on learning
  • Schools are going to be motivated to form partnerships with local businesses to bring industry into the classroom, thus making education more relevant to the world of work
  • Partnerships between schools and businesses will result in entrepreneurs coming to talk to learners; workshops for teachers; learners and teachers doing mini internships at their local businesses

In universities:

  • A body (The Forum of Entrepreneurial Development Centres at Higher Education Institutions – FEDCI) has been established to develop entrepreneurial centres at each of the universities in South Africa, beginning with the University of Johannesburg
  • The aim is to shift universities into innovation hubs and to incentivise practical research that leads to new patents and businesses being created

In the small business space:

  • bangle saleA National Virtual Incubator (NVI) – a ‘one-stop’ information portal for entrepreneurship and small business – has been created under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry. More tools for the National Virtual Incubator will continue to be developed.
  • Through this NVI, already 65,000 free websites have been created;
  • 500 000 Entrepreneurs have had access to free online MBA and BBA content through Regenesys Business School;
  • Finfind will be launched in October 2015: a free access site that will revolutionise the finance readiness process for entrepreneurs, while connecting them to various lenders in the market;
  • A National Mentorship Movement is being created to get 100 000 successful entrepreneurs to mentor 1 million businesses per year.
  • The task team has also recommended that government create stimulatory policy for small businesses and to reduce red tape and unnecessary obstacles.

A country’s entrepreneurial activity is strongly correlated with increases in GDP, reduction in unemployment and reduction in poverty – particularly in South Africa, where over 70% of the formal sector is made up of small businesses (those that employ 50 people or fewer).

A nation’s entrepreneurial activity is directly related to the quality of education, as this leads to an increase in citizens’ perceived entrepreneurial capabilities and their ability to spot opportunities. Entrepreneurship education needs to go hand in hand with improvements in the fundamentals of education, particularly Literacy, Numeracy and the STEM subjects.

If we want to achieve different results in our education system, we need to start doing things differently: starting with approaching our education system with a creative, action orientated, problem-solving, socially conscious mindset – the mindset of an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship in schools Part 1 | Gabriella Geffen

Entrepreneurship in schools Part 1 | Gabriella Geffen

Gabriella Geffen is a member of the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) Enabling Entrepreneurship Task Team and is also responsible for Business Development at the Maharishi Institute. In this article, she introduces the thinking around the Department of Basic Education’s Entrepreneurship-in-Schools initiative. Catch Part 2 of her article this Thursday.

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Unless we get the foundations right, all future efforts to stabilise the building will fail. What is the foundation of entrepreneurship? It is a mindset – an enterprising way of looking at the world such that every problem becomes an opportunity that can be solved with effort and dedication.

Pair this mindset with the skills required for running a business, such as managing finances, and you have, not only an entrepreneur, but an individual who adds value to any working environment – an individual who is empowered and self-sufficient for the rest of his/her working life in this rapidly accelerating 21st century.

In order for South Africa to evolve from its current position of having one of the lowest levels of entrepreneurship in the world and the lowest level of all African countries, the entrepreneurial mindset needs to be taught from a young age in order for it to become a natural way of perceiving the world. Creating a strong entrepreneurial culture in this country depends upon the development of entrepreneurial habits of thinking from the beginning of the education process.

What is the first shift that needs to take place to create an entrepreneurial culture? The easiest and most important step to fostering an entrepreneurial culture is learning to question. If the essence of entrepreneurship were summarised, it would be, in my opinion, the habit of asking why and coming up with better solutions diligently.

It is for this reason that the Department of Basic Education is embarking on a 15 year plan to embed practical Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship and Employability Training into the National School Curriculum from Grades R-12. The aim is to incorporate Entrepreneurship into each subject as a core competence, rather than to create another purely theoretical discipline.

The initiative has nothing to do with changing the curriculum, but everything to do with strengthening the manner in which the curriculum is taught and bringing the content to practical life. Hence, the focus is on pedagogy and methodology –  transforming traditional methods of teaching to methods that bring out the inherent creativity and potential in each learner, thereby transforming the quality of education in South Africa by evolving the way that teaching and learning occurs.

The goal is to make learners think as opposed to merely memorise; to engage the teacher as a facilitator along the student’s own inspired developmental journey. Gone are the days where the teacher was the sole access to knowledge. Rote learning in the age of information is redundant. What matters is what learners are able to do with information.

Admittedly not every learner will become an entrepreneur, however the characteristics of entrepreneurship – problem solving, action orientation, creativity, being socially-conscious and responsible – are critical for anyone in the 21st century. The nature of work in this era is about the intelligent assimilation of the plethora of information and using it practically and creatively to manifest results. Hence the target for the Entrepreneurship in Schools initiative is to see 100% of all school-leavers employable, studying further, or equipped to start their own businesses in the future.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.51.14 AMIf we look at Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning – our current education system (which continues to prepare people for the Industrial Revolution) – is still based on the bottom three levels of learning: Remembering, Understanding and perhaps a mild degree of Applying. However, in order to survive in the coming creative century, whether as entrepreneur or employee, the skills of Analysing, Evaluating and Creating need to be honed from a very young age.

This needs to be done on a systematic level to ensure that each child is empowered with new tools of thinking in order to propel him/her into a new reality. To find out how we are planning to do this, see my upcoming post on implementing Entrepreneurship into South Africa’s National School Curriculum and the broader National Entrepreneurship Strategy that includes Universities and the Small Business Sector.

We are not a generation of bystanders, we are Global Citizens

We are not a generation of bystanders, we are Global Citizens

 “In 15 years, we went from no space program … to boot prints on the moon. I remember the day, because that was made possible … everything else was possible as well.”

– American astronomer and author Neil deGrasse Tyson

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 8.12.57 AMIf human creativity can historically achieve that sort of progress in 15 years, why should we not be able to do it again, but this time not with the aim of reaching the moon but ending extreme poverty.  For the first time ever this is a generation that has such an ambitious goal within its grasp. 2015 is thus an extraordinary year. In fact Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, has said that it is the most important year for the United Nations since its founding 70 years ago.  The reason for this is the launch of the 17 Global Goals [AF1] to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change.

From the Foundation’s perspective job creation and entrepreneurs is clearly articulated in Goal 8 of the Global Goals: Decent work and economic growth.  Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell is the United Nation Foundation’s first Global Advocate for Entrepreneurship in support of this goal. In this role, he has set the mission of paving the way for the next billion jobs by advocating for the No. 1 creator of jobs: entrepreneurs.

As he says: “The overarching goal of the Global Goals is to end absolute poverty by 2030. How is that possible without new and better jobs? And who is creating those jobs? Entrepreneurs. Start-ups and fast-growing, new businesses create 70 percent of the net new jobs in the world (up to 90 percent in some emerging economies)”

The launch of global goals was celebrated in unique way the day after being approved at the United Nations on 25 September 2015, with the Global Citizen Festival [AF2] in Central Park, New York.  This event brought together star studded musicians, including Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Cold Play and Pearl Jam, with a number of world leaders such as the First Lady of America, Vice President Biden, Secretary General of the UN, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala, Bill Gates and many others – all united in the cause of ending extreme poverty. It was an extraordinary event attended by over 60,000 people, not least because all those attending had not bought their way into the festival but had earned the right to attend, by taking action as global citizens.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 8.13.16 AMIn the 2014 Global Citizen Festival it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India who had explained how this change will happen:

“Some believe that the world changes with the wisdom of the old. I think that the idealism, innovation, energy and “can do” attitude of the youth is even more powerful. To put the light of hope in every eye, and the joy of belief in every heart. Lift people out of poverty. A roof over every head. I know it is possible”

So in support of this generation defining moment, we are encouraging our community and friends to join these passionate individuals working together to effect a movement of change – to heed the words of  Bill and Melinda Gates in his newsletter earlier this year: “We want to raise the visibility of these problems. We want to give global citizens a way to lend their voice, urging governments, companies, and non-profits to make these issues a priority. ”

Don’t be generation of bystanders, be a Global Citizen.

Sign up at www.globalcitizen.org

Entrepreneurial principles for principals | Tom Hamilton

Entrepreneurial principles for principals | Tom Hamilton

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.15.35 AMLast weekend, we proudly hosted the 6th annual Circle of Excellence (COE) Conference which brought together 55 of our 100 member schools. The COE  celebrates and promotes the development of holistic educational excellence in Southern Africa. It was launched in 2008 to identify and celebrate the region’s top secondary schools for their excellence in education and their consistent delivery of successful candidates to the Fellowship. 

The COE is a diverse group of schools that is committed to producing the region’s next generation of high impact entrepreneurs. The COE also provides the pool from which the placement schools for our Scholarship are chosen.

Tom Hamilton, Headmaster at St. Alban’s College (a Foundation placement school and COE member school), graciously consented to our posting his reflections on the 2015 COE conference.

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 “We live in the world our questions create.” David Cooperider

It surely wasn’t a coincidence that the first boy I met as I walked the grounds on this closing afternoon of the long August holiday was one of our Allan Gray Scholars, Mongameli. He made his bus bookings a little too enthusiastically and has arrived back from his home in KZN a whole day early.

Still, Mongameli’s enthusiasm, ambition and excitement were palpable before we even got close to a handshake and a welcome. He has had a tough year, having to go home to recover from a serious illness for almost three months, an illness for which he will be on medication until the end of the year.

I asked him how he felt, whether he had done enough to catch up on all the missed work, whether he was ready for the challenges ahead. “Sir, my July examinations were the best I have ever achieved since I came to St Alban’s. I believe that I can do even better by the end of the year.”

“But what about all the other things you do here, will you be able to keep a balance?” I ask. “That’s the challenge of being healthy again, Sir. There are so many opportunities to learn and extend myself. And there is the exchange to Ireland!”

“I have just come back from a three-day conference of the Allan Gray Circle of Excellence Schools and we have been challenged at a high level. One of the issues we discussed was the Fellowship Programme. Mongameli, do you intend to be a strong contender for the Fellowship when you get to university in 2018?’

“Sir, whenever we meet those guys (I am sure that he using “guys” in the generic boy-girl sense) we are blown away by them. I would love to be a Fellow. They think big!” he says.

They do indeed.

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation (“Foundation”) was launched in 2005. The first trustees were appointed that same year – Prof Jakes Gerwel (Chairman) and Mahesh Cooper (Director at Allan Gray and an Old Albanian from our Class of 1994).

St Alban’s College was one of the original schools on the 2008 COE list. To be a Foundation COE School means something – it brings expectations that the school will strive to improve continually too. Certain of those schools were selected as placement schools for Allan Gray Scholars, and we were delighted to enter such a partnership in 2009. Our first Allan Gray Scholars, Katlego and Aviskar joined us in 2010 and matriculated last year. Katlego was successful in being selected for the Fellowship Programme, and was joined on that programme by Buni, who had attended St Alban’s College on a Don MacRobert Bursary, courtesy of the St Alban’s College Foundation.

There are currently twelve Allan Gray Scholars (all boarders) at our school. These boys were selected from several thousand applicants for the Scholars Programme and went through an intensive multi-stage selection process. They were selected with a view to their living the Foundation vision, which we share:

‘In the coming years, there will emerge from diverse communities a new generation of high impact entrepreneurial leaders. Individuals of passion, integrity and innovation, who will be at the forefront of the continuing economic and social transformation of this region. These individuals will be ambassadors of the power of initiative, determination and excellence, acting as role models so that many more will follow in their pioneering footsteps.’

The investment being made by the Foundation is substantial. They pay 50% of tuition and boarding fees; books and stationary; uniform and equipment; trips, tours and transport. In addition the Scholars are given regular mentoring and extension, which is aimed at preparing them for the Fellowship programme and university study. In simple terms, the Foundation invests approximately R150,000 per annum per Scholar, and we invest approximately R90,000 per Scholar by way of a bursary.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.10.25 AMSchools like ours are often prisoners of our own success. Why would you, how could you, change the way you are when you are successful? The CoE Conference gave us distance and space from our successes. It helped us to see ourselves as we really are, it helped us to begin to imagine ourselves as we might be in the future. Fundamentally, it reminded us that individual success just isn’t enough, there is an overarching need for us to build a better society.

Our school, no matter the bursary programmes and the history of community service and social responsibility, is a social construct as much as anything else. In large measure, our underlying ideology is one of privilege, advantage, and entitlement. There is a real danger that we can begin to feel that catering for the ambitions and needs of the well-to-do is sufficient for our continued existence. Significance always require more than that. The Scholarship and bursary recipients who have come through the College over the years have played an extraordinarily powerful role in our society, way beyond their numbers would suggest. We can’t lose that.

Change is rarely linear but is often unpredictable, messy and it involves entering unchartered waters. Leaving politics, activism, ideologies aside, what the Foundation challenged us to seek this weekend were new ways of inculcating entrepreneurial and ethical leadership mindsets in our scholars. Young people who forget the entitlement, and privilege, who go out there to create new futures.

Cooperider encapsulated the issue in that pithy statement: “We live in the world our questions create.” There is a real danger in South African society that we don’t ask the important questions, that we settle for being champions in our own suburbs. Schools like ours have the ability (and have already demonstrated the ability) to make an impact far beyond what our numbers would suggest. Strong leadership at all levels is required if we are to reach our full purpose and potential.

So what are the questions that we should be asking ourselves if we are to create a future of which we can all be proud, in which all will be better off, in which we fix what needs to be fixed and do what needs to be done? It may involve taking risks, presenting ourselves with new challenges, seeking innovation in our ideas and our practice. It will certainly involve giving more responsibility to our youth, to ‘empowering’ them, to use a very common phrase. This will fly in the face of what many of our constituency prefer, for modern parents tend to disempower their children by over-parenting and for far too long. In this particular conference, empowerment of our youth to develop the mindsets to become change agents in society was a central theme; that is significantly different from what many of our parents seek, which is for their children to acquire the skillsets to be successful in our society.

IMG_1040Leadership is a very personal journey; it requires a person to ask deep questions of himself/herself. We are much more opaque than we think we are; and not just to one another, but we are opaque to ourselves in the first instance. We might deny it, but we are. So much goes unsaid, unchallenged and untested in our public and private discourse. We trade in myths – whether they be the panacea of the ‘Rainbow Nation’, or the myth that apartheid is long past and is no longer relevant, or the fallacy that all good schools need to do is to continue to be like they always were.

Does that mean that what we are doing now is wrong? Maybe, maybe not.

Prof Pedro Tabensky of the Allan Gray Centre for Ethical Leadership at Rhodes University put it powerfully: “You will never find someone doing something wrong, thinking that they are doing wrong.”

If we want to become more ethical leaders, then we need to be putting something very different in place, we need to accept our darkness and our complexity as individuals and as a community, and see it as part of our richness. If the adults in our community can become more effective ethical agents then there is a chance that we can create a new generation of young people who can become the change agents to transform this country and this region.

The conference was powerful. It has certainly given us the seeds of our future thought. It demanded that I ask these questions of myself, and that I help us to create the space for all of us to ask the same questions.

I am confident that we will find the right questions; that we will become what our questions require us to become.