Category 2

real solutions to communities

Zibu Masotobe — bringing real solutions to communities

Impact Story

Zibu Masotobe — bringing real solutions to communities

real solutions to communities

Enrolling at the USB gave Zibu clarity on her purpose, the WHY in her life. It made her question her role in society – and this has propelled her to be part of the solution in a country where there are high levels of poverty, inequality and poor education. This is the life that she knows very well, given her own background. Growing up she did not have any real or tangible
expectations, with very little exposure to the world except that immediately around her.

Through a treacherous road of trial and error and becoming a mother at 17 years old, Zibu, now in her early thirties, has achieved an MBA, has met President Obama, putting South Africa on the world stage and has started initiatives that bring real solutions to communities. Here is an inspiring story of resilience, perseverance and finding the good in oneself and the reflection on the impact of doing the MBA.

The impact of doing an MBA at the USB, Zibu relates her personal journey:

The MBA was and still remains an eye-opener in terms of how Stellenbosch helped Zibu approach her education. That approach had more focus on her development as a human being as opposed to simply giving her information. In her view, personal development made the absolute difference.

Before the MBA programme started, students were required to register for an online leadership style assessment which
was then sent to her colleagues, managers and staff for feedback. When the assessment results were revealed to her, she found out how they experienced her as opposed to what she thought she was. This feedback was crushing in many ways, but it taught
her more about herself – it made her more self-aware, aware of how she was impacting other people. She discovered that she was managing people instead of leading them.

This new awareness led her to make changes in her life and work. Subsequently, two of the executives in her team were inspired to do an MBA as well. Since completing her MBA, she feels that she has become a producer of leaders, more conscious of other people’s achievements and less caught up in herself. She feels she has become more approachable, more open to having faults, and this has had a significant impact on the dynamics in her team and the way in which her staff approach their own work.

The Business in Society module on the MBA made her, for the first time, question her role as a leader in South Africa, honestly
reflecting on the impact she is making in terms of transformation or the lack thereof in industry. Previously, she had looked to
government and authorities for solutions but never at herself. She had never thought of herself as an official in a state-owned
entity and the impact of the decisions that she was making in creating solutions. She reflects that when she joined the MBA programme, she was a portfolio manager in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) for Electrification.

Her responsibility was delivering electricity in rural areas and to schools in KZN, which had the biggest backlog in terms of un-
electrified households. Prior to the MBA, she saw her work simply as a numbers game: how many households were in this area
and how many would be lit by this period.

At the time there was tough resistance from the communities, who would cut down the poles being put up. There was ignorance on her part and the department as to why this was happening. During her time at the USB she instituted community meetings to explain the electrification design principles, spoke to local community leaders about when they would be catered for in relation to other villages. She discovered that when communities were not consulted, this led to aggressive behaviour.

Since then, she has purposefully incorporated stakeholder engagements in her work projects. Zibu brought into her work the approach to engage society as partners, as stakeholders, and not as by-products of the business.

She reflects that the MBA was a full experience – she learned to have self-discipline, and even learnt meditation in an MBA class. She had never tried to quieten her life before. Meditation helped her to stop going against the current, demanding
of people to deliver results and struggling to lead them.

Before completing the MBA, she had never related education to life – education had been about career progression. The personal development, the definition of her role, her story, discovering her true voice, and quieting the ‘other’ voice inside her head, brought about a complete turnaround. She started understanding the resentment she had for people, her need to tell her story and be acknowledged for it. She started taking responsibility for herself and her choices, all of which has impacted on what she went on to do.

Zibu went into self-employment (into public service as she likes to refer to it), as a social entrepreneur. Two years ago when she made a call on Facebook for women wishing to start a revolution to join her, she received an overwhelming response. Women from all walks of life answered the call. MMC Business Advice was born, which she co-owns with
60 other women. She steered away from starting a business on her own, which would just have fed her ego – that had nothing to do with service.

She was inspired to give women a voice, a platform. The start of MMC highlighted some of the women in the network needing
mentorship. One of these owns a business called ‘New Africa’, a marketing and design company.

Another woman who had sewn her a dress two years previously, with which she was rather impressed, was mentored by Zibu and helped to develop a marketing strategy (taught on the MBA programme). Zibu got her a presence on Facebook and linked her up with New Africa, who in turn helped her to do her online marketing, logo and branding. This woman has since tripled her earnings and is able to support her family.

As a result of MMC’s model as, a business association, most of the women are fully employed and have start-up companies as
well. Even though as a collective they all own MMC, Zibu mentors the women in their own businesses. She stresses the importance of a start-up culture in South Africa because of high unemployment levels, and the degree of incompatibility that people experience with their employers and having no choice to leave.

With her commitment to using education for service, she was inspired to write a book, ‘The Personal Finance Evolution’,
due for publication in August 2017. This book is intended to help people get out of debt. The biggest problem in South African
society, she feels, is the high debt culture, lack of information about money and lots of ill-discipline supporting poverty habits
driving poverty decisions – something she knows about through personal experience.

The book supports the new division within the association, MMC Invest. The aim is to tackle the lack of investing in South Africa. Through MMC Invest, Zibu tries to promote an investment culture as opposed to a consumption culture. MMC offers seminars to encourage people to review their savings.

The result is that every 36 months women take stock of their investments and are equipped to decide whether to invest in
long-term assets such as property, or to cash out. In addition to the seminars, Zibu runs a broadcast on her Facebook page
every Tuesday at 19:30. The last topic she presented was a debt review.

As part of an MBA assignment, students had to form a Facebook group. Zibu had not been on Facebook before; in fact she was
against it. Today she has 40 000 followers. She has found it to be a mine of information. The USB introduced her to Facebook and her work impacts 40 000 people, a massive number for one person.

The MBA challenged her worldviews and the decisions she was making. Her mindset is now driven by problems she sees in society, asking herself what her role in it is, how she can help. Facebook is giving her the platform to effect change.

The MBA changed Zibu’s life significantly. By the time she finished studying, she had many community development projects.
She had adopted a school and many other facilities to uplift the community. When Barack Obama initiated the Young African
Leaders Initiative, she was selected to represent South Africa as one of the young African leaders for the Mandela Washington
Fellowship.

The Fellowship chose people who had the privilege of education and were using this gift for the greater good. This is one of the things she thanks the USB for. The honour of meeting President Obama and how that opened her mind, changed her life immeasurably.

She talks of this 100-year-old ‘white’ institution, the University of Stellenbosch, and through it, the USB that
has cornered the market of knowledge and opened its doors for her – giving her the privilege of education. She used and still uses that privilege and transfers it to others. She has learnt that privilege is transferrable and that learning from each other is the best form of education.

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Maxwell Saungweme — making sustainability work

Impact Story

Maxwell Saungweme — making sustainability work

Maxwell is a political commentator and an operations management professional. He has over 16 years of program design, development and management experience in many countries, including Zimbabwe, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Afghanistan. He holds both a Masters in Development Studies as well as in Development Finance. Maxwell currently resides in Nigeria and works for an NGO called Search for Common Ground.

The impact of studying development finance at the USB:

What has impressed Maxwell greatly is the diversity of lecturers at the USB – scholars from all over the world. Black African scholars, white scholars and visiting professors allowed him to gain an international and a Pan-African perspective, which is particularly useful in his field of work.

Graduating with a Masters in Development Finance from the USB gave him a greater level of authority and respect in industry.

From a career point of view, he finds that people are more interested in him because of the combination of his degrees: a Masters in Development Studies and a Masters in Development Finance. Maxwell found employment immediately after graduating from the USB. He firmly believes that this was the result of his degree and the respect that the University enjoys world-wide. Maxwell currently holds the position of Deputy Director for a large international NGO in Nigeria, Search for Common Ground.

In terms of his expertise and working for an NGO, studying has helped him to become a more rounded person, moving him from Operations Management to understanding Finance as well. He started appreciating that for development to happen one needs to understand how important access to finances is. As an NGO they receive money, such as bilateral grants from outside donors, but there is also a need to be financially sustainable. He is able to discuss this with his Finance Director and help shape the course of finance in his organisation.

The research he conducted as part of his degree fulfillment was on the financial sustainability of local NGOs. Since his graduation, Maxwell has been able to put into practice many of the findings and recommendations from his studies. Learning
the financial side of development has made him drive this vision of a financially sustainable NGO, inculcating a culture
of social corporate responsibility, and of raising funds within the organisation while reducing operational costs.

Maxwell is able to give examples of effective and financially sustainable NGOs in South Africa based on the exposure to these NGOs through studying at the USB. Examples include: Running services and charging fees for those services. With this insight, NGOs are starting to raise money by selling products and ploughing that money back into their nonprofit work. His current organisation owns big open spaces, part of which they now rent out for a fee to support some of their institutional structures.

He has learned about the delicate link between the profit-making aspects of NGOs while maintaining their nonprofit status.

The insistence on financial sustainability has led to frank assessments relating to budgeting and financial planning for the
organisation as the focal point in assessing whether they are able to generate some form of income with the resources available
to them. Maxwell has started to ensure that the sub-grants which Search for Common Ground provides, support institutional
capacities of other NGOs and promote their long-term financial sustainability.

He has become a recognised voice on sustainability topics in the development sector, thereby driving policy changes for
NGOs and influencing donor policies in Africa. He has influenced funding decisions by donors in Nigeria and Zimbabwe to
support local NGOs and has ensured they also provide funding that helps develop financial sustainability systems.

He develops weekly context updates in Nigeria which are sent out by his organisation to current and potential donors. He does commentary in the South African and Zimbabwe media on social, economic and political issues. Some of the ideas, level of analysis and the skills to do so he believes he gained at the USB. He is a known commentator on key issues in the development sector and his analysis has improved significantly since he completed his studies.

The richness and relevance of his experience at the USB is evident in that his work is recognised and applicable not only in
Nigeria, but spreading to other countries, such as Zimbabwe and Ghana. The Pan-African influence and exposure gained through the various USB Development Finance lecturers has had a lot to do with this.

Maxwell appears in various media platforms – interviews on CNBC Africa, newspapers like The Herald, and online platforms such as Bulawayo24, allafrica.com and others, again influencing public opinion.

This story is a demonstration not only of the USB values in action, but of Maxwell espousing responsible leadership in all its facets: responsible management in the NGO sector, encouraging good practices and appropriate management of funder/donor money as well as speaking up for long-term financial sustainability of these not-for-profit organisations. Policies to improve marketplace practices and enhance reach for the communities that the development sector serves are also a focus of his work through his commentary and his engagements.

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Wiehan Visagie and Werné Kritzinger’s NoobSwitch

Impact Story

Wiehan Visagie and Werné Kritzinger’s NoobSwitch

Academic Programmes

Wiehan and three others in his profession applied for the MBA programme. As animal nutritionists, at first they didn’t believe they would be accepted into the Business School programme, but to their delight they were. One of those other three was Werné Kritzinger who went on to become Wiehan’s business partner. Wiehan and Werner continued practicing as animal nutritionists, but early on in their studies they started a business called Noobswitch, which they run on a part-time basis.

The impact of doing an MBA at the USB, Wiehan relates their story:

In the first week of their MBA classes, Wiehan and Werné both felt inspired to explore their entrepreneurial side. The meeting of minds came when it occurred to them that most young university graduates find the time between graduation and their first encounter with the work environment difficult, as they did. The transition from being a student to a professional is decidedly daunting. The idea for their business came from this realization – and so followed the birth of Noobswitch in 2014.

The relevance and practicality of the MBA programme meant that they could apply what they were learning to empower others. Noobswitch offers their participants, who are undergraduates, a scaled-down version of the MBA in one week. The two owners created a short course incorporating some of the learning that they were experiencing on the MBA programme. Sessions on their programme include leadership, financial planning and business communication.

A wide variety of people have offered their time to lecture or mentor the students. In the first year, several of the 17 speakers were fellow classmates from the MBA programme at the USB. Additionally, after that first week, some of these volunteers from the MBA class employed some of the students in their businesses.

Wiehan and Werné found the experience of having diverse lecturers and guest speakers in class enriching as they received content from different perspectives. The exposure to these different people on the USB MBA encouraged them to think more broadly and they created a new business model with Noobswitch. It is evident that the network the two owners created in the MBA class has been useful to them and the Noobswitch students.

The MBA taught them to have patience and discipline in the world of business. In the first two years of running Noobswitch they were unable to generate any profits, but had the grit and patience to keep running the business as well as maintain their full-time jobs. In the first two years, the business was run solely by Werné and Wiehan. Recently, they appointed their first full-time employee – an alumnus of the 2016 Noobswitch week. The first staff member is in charge of Business Development. As a business Noobswitch is starting to create employment, which means past students are the beneficiaries of this growth. They have also started to generate profit in 2017.

They found that the USB MBA modules were versatile and could be used in most situations. For example they apply the skills from the leadership module both in Noobswitch as well as in their full-time jobs in the farming industry.

Thanks to his studies, Wiehan is able to contribute to strategy and marketing plans, and he has implemented some cost management processes within the organisation he works for full-time. He feels that before embarking on the MBA he used to work with a silo mentality. Nowadays, he is able to understand the interconnectedness of functional areas and works at a broader level. He has moved upwards and joined the operations committee, where his input is valued.

The organisation currently manages two main streams within the business. One constitutes about 75% of the business, the other the remaining 25%. There is a need to grow the latter to estimates of about 40 to 50% of the total business within the next four or five years. Wiehan is part of the team drawing up the strategy for this strategic growth and implementation plan, while also bearing in mind the effects of change among staff in the organisation. To this end, he is able to help people to manage the change better and where appropriate, call on other providers for assistance.

On the entrepreneurial side, their knowledge and skills are advantageous because both have been doing the marketing and finances as well as the sales function of their business. The impact of this is that during the first two years they incurred none of the overhead costs of paying service providers, but used their knowledge gained from the MBA.

The network of friends and acquaintances made on the programme has been of great benefit. Their network has extended beyond just engineering – again stretching their thinking and knowledge, something that wasn’t the case before.

Wiehan sees in himself significant growth in confidence, belief in his capabilities and leading differently because now he understands the language of business better and applies it. The MBA has given him a voice in his organisation.

Wiehan further reports that by being on the MBA at the USB, he has developed a different perspective on community. The strong focus and perspective on South Africa and that everyone has a part to play in the direction of the economy, social issues and transformation was remarkable in the programme and it compelled one to act. Instead of thinking that he would do something for the community one day when he has the money, he now believes in starting small. He does small acts – cleaning people’s gardens or looking after children. Furthermore, at Noobswitch, they highlight this aspect and encourage students to pay it forward by helping out in their local communities.

Noobswitch is a story of application, of multidisciplinary use of learning and passion fueled not only by content but by every person the two founders encountered on the MBA programme. The value commitments of USB are demonstrated by Wiehan and Werné:

  • Innovation is evidenced through Noobswitch’s imaginative inception.
  • Engagement with the business community is encouraged and rewarded by interaction with the wider society to promote public good.
  • Sustainability is seen through the ongoing support of the well-being of their students, to help them with their transition and become better members of the corporate community.

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Greetings from the Alumni Office

Impact Story

Greetings from the Alumni Office

  • OCT 27
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

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A time to reflect and to look aheadPlanning for 2018 provides the USB Alumni Office with the opportunity to reflect on the wide range of contributions from alumni during this year. As we enter the final quarter of 2017, our thoughts shift towards achieving annual objectives, preparing for exams, developing strategies for 2018 and perhaps arranging a holiday break. Regional chapters such as Gauteng, the Western Cape and Mpumalanga are finalising their activities for the year. Also, we still have planned events for Namibia and East Africa during November and December respectively.

Alumni’s participation in accreditation assessmentsIn September and October, USB hosted the peer-review teams from two of our three accreditation bodies, namely AMBA from the UK and the AACSB from the USA. These reaccreditations are highly important for USB. USB’s leadership team and stakeholder groups were assessed to ensure that our strategies and plans are aligned with our vision and mission, and that these are monitored for appropriateness and effectiveness. Thank you to those alumni who have attended the accreditation panels of both AMBA and AACSB, and for your positive contributions. During this process, USB has collated stories from alumni as a measure of positive impact and we look forward to share these and other success stories in AlumNet.

Ongoing learning and engagementThe growing number of masterclasses and speaker events over the past five years indicates progress on continuous learning and sustainable engagement. Masterclasses increased from one in 2012 to four masterclasses in 2016 and seven in 2017. In 2017, for the first time, three of these took place outside the Western Cape: one in Gauteng, one in Ghana and one in Nigeria. Alumni Business Dialogues in regional chapters increased from 23 in 2012 to 48 in 2016 and to 55 in 2017, with an increase in attendance in many chapters. Contributing to this increase were events hosted in partnerships, notably with USB Executive Development Ltd (USB-ED), Institute for Futures Research, Resource Alliance and US, INNOVUS, Rand Business Club, Citadel and the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE).

Masterclasses increased from one in 2012 to four masterclasses in 2016 and seven in 2017

We thank our partners, regional chairpersons, committees, alumni and USB faculty for their commitment to reach out to alumni and to increase engagement. Thank you also to all alumni who are delivering testimonials at MBA and other information sessions, and who have served on industry panels at major events. Sharing business knowledge and success stories at masterclasses and regional events helps to increase our sense of belonging to the USB Alumni Association.

USB’s Alumnus of the YearIn September, the USB Alumni Association called for nominations for Alumnus of the Year 2017. Thank you to those of you who have nominated fellow alumni. A selection panel reviewed the nominations based on criteria of “being a graduate from USB, or USB-ED’s comprehensive executive development programmes, who has excelled as responsible leader, who supports the values of USB, who has achieved visibility during the past 12 to 18 months, and has showed strong leadership in business with strong environmental, social and ethical governance”. The recipient of this award will be announced at a prestigious leadership-themed gala dinner in association with the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation in Cape Town on 27 October. We wish the 2017 Alumnus of the Year every success and look forward to a life-long partnership with him or her as ambassador of USB.

Greetings from the Alumni Office
Christélle Cronjé

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