The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.