Corporate citizenship

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation update: leaving a legacy

American leadership coach Peter Strople once commented: “Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.” This quote resonates with Yogavelli Nambiar, from the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, as she pays tribute to Mr Allan Gray by celebrating some of the Allan Gray Fellows’ successes.

Looking at the activities and achievements of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and its beneficiaries over the past year, the spirit of Mr Gray – one of empowerment, of humanity, of servant leadership – is evident in those who have received the benefits of his endeavours. It is this spirit that continues to drive us forward, every day. It is very much alive. 

Committed to making a difference

While it is obviously pleasing to know that we are helping to build entrepreneurship in South Africa, it is far more satisfying to observe that we have contributed to the development of values-driven entrepreneurs with a “spirit of significance” who are committed to making a difference to their communities and by extension, their country. It is equally rewarding to see those entrepreneurs thrive and prosper financially, in turn uplifting their families and paying it forward to others.

Success stories

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation programme participants garnered acclaim at various competitions this year. One of these was the inaugural Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition, where all four categories of the national student pitching competition were won by our Candidate Fellows. The challenge was initiated by the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education programme (a division of Universities South Africa) with the purpose of identifying top student entrepreneurs at each of the country’s public universities, showcasing their businesses and inviting investment into their start-ups. 

this legacy has been created in them and will live on

The businesses run by these winning Candidate Fellows are inspiring. Denislav Marinov was named winner of the Existing Tech Business category with his start-up, DVM Designs, which seeks to democratise access to 3D printing throughout Africa. Musa Maluleka won the Existing General Business category for Disktjie, which provides soccer boots designed to allow players to withstand rough gravel pitches prevalent in most townships. Then there’s Penang Shirindza, who took home the prize for Innovative Business Idea for his digital advertising company, Urban Play. Finally, Mvelo Hlope was named the overall winner out of 1 153 participants for creating Zaio – a free platform which teaches users how to code and finds them employment. 

Ntandoyenkosi Shezi and Prince Nwadeyi also flew the Foundation’s flag high when their market research company, the iSpani Group, was awarded R2.5 million in the Diageo Empowerment Trust’s Social Tech Startup Challenge. 

In addition, some of our Fellows have proven themselves to be winners in the business environment. African technology company Yoco came into the spotlight when it was announced that the Partech Africa Fund would invest in the company. This was not the first round of investment attracted by the company, which was co-founded by Allan Gray Fellow Bradley Wattrus and provides point-of-sale technology for small businesses, thus helping to support South Africa’s entrepreneurs. Melvyn Lubega, director at eLearning platform G01, made his way onto the prestigious Forbes Under 30 list (alongside four other Fellows) and was invited to participate in the Award’s Summit, which took place in Detroit. 

HouseME, co-founded by Fellow Benjamin Shaw, who was later joined by Fellow Lorne Hallendorff, first made the news when it was established as a property management entity which disrupted the market by charging landlords a much smaller commission than usual. Now it is in the headlines again, having been appointed the managing agent of the Cape Town V&A Waterfront’s residential “to let” portfolio, which includes 259 apartments. 

Fellows Dineo Lioma and Daniel Ndima also proved themselves newsmakers when their biotechnology company, CapeBio, was reported on in Forbes Woman Africa. This African innovation start-up, which was named among the Businesses Of The Future: 20 New Wealth Creators On The African Continent, manufactures reagent enzymes for use in molecular biology research. 

The Allan Gray Fellows are changemakers beyond the creation of their own businesses. Suzy Nkambule showed that an entrepreneurial spirit can have important ramifications on business success and job creation within organisations. She purchased Aveng Water, part of the international Aveng Group, in partnership with E Squared, which was set up by Mr Gray in 2007 to offer business support and funding to Allan Gray Fellows and social entrepreneurs. Coming from a small township in Mpumalanga, Suzy’s story demonstrates how the Fellows are creating significant socio-economic impact. 

Mtha Nzo is also proving that our faith in our high school Scholars is well founded, having set up a radio show in East London that deals with critical issues facing youth. 

The future is here

Fourteen years ago, the Foundation, on the back of Mr Allan Gray’s grand vision, affirmed: “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.” 

Indeed, the time has come, and the future is here. Our programme participants give us great hope that this legacy has been created in them and will live on as they continue to contribute to building the South Africa we all desire and envision.

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