It is not often that one has the pleasure of doing what you love for a living. Joining the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation allows me to extend that pleasure beyond working with startups to making a small contribution towards the development of high-impact entrepreneurship in South Africa. This is the first time that I am joining a public benefit organisation and it is such a privilege to play a part in a journey that can take a deserving individual from the dusty streets of a rural town to the corridors of power in corporate South Africa. My personal story is not much different from such a journey and this makes it easy to relate to our mission.
My own journey with entrepreneurship capacity development started in 2009 when I was part of the inaugural team at Wits Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. We installed the first management team, drafted the first programmes for delivery and hosted the 13th MIT Global Startup Workshop. This experienced inspired me to make an active contribution in the local entrepreneurship ecosystem and I started the South African Startup Index (SASi) to track startup companies for venture capital investment readiness. SASi opened up many opportunities to take entrepreneurship capacity development to the rest of the continent with collaboration in Namibia, Kenya, Tunisia and Ghana. A definite highlight of this work emerged through the launch of the African Startup Index (ASi) at the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2011.
Before joining the Foundation, I had the pleasure of working in the public sector as an executive at Africa’s first international accredited science park, The Innovation Hub. My portfolio, which included the Maxum Business Incubator, The Climate Innovation Centre, mLab and CoachLab, offered an exciting combination of commercialisation and skills development. My work there gave me a different perspective on long-term investment for innovation and some practical experience around practicing innovation.
I am extremely excited about the challenge that lies ahead as the head of Impact Assurance at the Foundation. Given the good fortune of joining a highly competent and professional team who are all passionate about their work and their personal contributions towards entrepreneurship capacity development, it will be hard not to succeed. Our long-term focus and desire to be the best in the world is what excites me most about our mission and I am committed to ensure that our work makes a contribution that will be globally significant.