Kholofelo Mashego grew up with a desire to see people not being defined by their past struggles. Her passion for social justice started at a very young age – even though she didn’t quite know that it was called “social justice”. After a while Kholofelo also started asking questions about sustainable change – what it looks like and what a journey towards it would look like.
These attitudes and questions led her to the development sector where she worked with young people for a number of years. Her efforts were driven by the belief that “development work … can never and should never be planned or executed without the young minds of a nation.” Now her position in the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation ensures that she continues living out this belief. As a Scholar Development Officer she helps young people from financially needy homes become the voices, hopes and faces of sustainable change. “For me this is one of the many steps towards social justice,” says Kholofelo.
The Foundation’s Scholarship Programme aims to develop the untapped potential within young learners so that they can become eligible for the Foundation’s Fellowship Programme. Her role, she explains, is to groom that young person by developing their personal mastery skills during their high school career and ensuring that through the programme offering they develop the necessary entrepreneurial mindset and are able to successfully transition into university.
Kholofelo recognises that each Scholar comes with a story that is reflective of the South African reality. They come broken, they come as adults denied the chance to be a child and they come carrying the dream of a better future for their families. In their brokenness there lies hope; in their adult-like minds lie the ability to innovate. She believes that her role at the Foundation is to “ensure that the Scholars we have in our programme know how to articulate their generation’s struggle and [become] the solutions to those struggles through entrepreneurship.”
What drew Kholofelo to the Foundation is a dream that is also driving her to leave her mark or as she puts it, “[her] footprint in the African soil.” When she first read about the Foundation and saw all the YouTube videos about what the Foundation’s activities and beneficiaries, she couldn’t deny wanting to become part of such a long-term legacy. She recognised the Foundation as being a place where one can see transformation happen before one’s eyes and live out a South African dream.
For Kholofelo that dream is to one day see South Africa as a country where even the ordinary person’s story matters, where quality education is not a matter of affordability and where families no longer need to send their children out to beg on the street and become invisible to the successful eye. She wants to be part of a South Africa where the world’s greatest inventors and solution makers are birthed, where entrepreneurship is valued and people’s dignity is restored through work. “Through the Foundation I have a chance to influence the South African story one Scholar at a time.”