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Driving change through leadership

In the sprawling village of Kwampukunyoni, the clatter of Mrs Myeni’s pots can be heard as the sun starts to rise over the horizon. Children are up early to get ready for the day ahead. Zodwa Gumede is 12 years old and cares for her three younger brothers. Their mother died giving birth to Zodwa’s youngest brother who is now three and their father left the community to find work some two years ago. Zodwa is fortunate in that she is able to stay with her brothers in their community, as she has an aunt who provides the children with shelter.

The children leave their aunt and set off on the 4km walk to the feeding centre which they rely on to provide them with their only guaranteed meal of the day.

Mrs Myeni set up the Mzondeni Orphan Care Centre some years earlier as there was no provision to help orphaned and vulnerable children. Although she had no money or resources, she managed to put together a small programme to guarantee a meal each day to some 40 children. Government funding was promised and foundations for a proper feeding centre were built, but money ran out – leaving Mrs Myeni with one small room to operate from.

Back in the UK a group of business professionals were also preparing for a new day, having just completed the first stage of a unique leadership development course. While Zodwa and her brothers queued for their meal the group were considering how they could make a difference to her community over their breakfast. During the first stage of the programme they had clearly defined their strengths and where development will help further their leadership potential. Now they were to apply that learning to a real project – ensuring the skills they had developed were directly transferable to deliver real outcomes – the key to success of this programme.

As Zodwa clears away her plates and heads for school the group apply themselves to the brief they have been given. A community project will be delivered in the community of Kwampukunyoni, in rural Africa where Mrs Myeni will see the rest of her orphan care centre completed. The increase in capacity will see another 150 children be able to start the day knowing that they will have a meal before school.

The group’s challenge is to use the leadership skills they have learned to raise the £20,000 needed to fund the project and turn Mrs Myeni’s dream for the future into reality – driving change through leadership. The funds raised go directly to the project on the ground, making a difference to people who have already made a difference to so many young people and securing a future for not only Zodwa and her brothers but many others in the same situation. The Corporate Social Responsibility element of the programme provides the opportunity to engage employees throughout the company to succeed in this initiative.

A year on and the success of the group’s fund raising ensured that a second meal could be provided at the end of the day for those orphaned children and a safe environment provided where children could spend time catching up on school work – exceeding expectations of all involved.

The Leadership Company believe that the best way to learn is by doing, and proving that learning by undertaking a real project that helps poor communities in Africa.

The impact these leadership programmes have had on communities in South Africa has brought the concept to the attention of The Nelson Mandela Foundation. They found the inspiration and skills that these programmes brought to poor rural communities, and the long-term sustainability it inspired was a testimony to both the training and participants. The UN Women has applauded the contribution to some of the Millennium Development Goals such as promoting gender equality, international engagement and education initiatives.

The newly branded Mandela 67 Challenge is a unique global leadership development programme. It offers a demanding but innovative approach to leadership development for business professionals, in all sectors of industry and commerce. Over the next four years 67 programmes will deliver 67 essential projects in African communities.

As the tough economic climate continues to bite the need to deliver results and create growth with less resources is at the forefront in many companies. As ever, it is a company’s people who offer the best opportunity to add that value.

If you are looking for something different to inspire your next generation of leaders, then CLICK HERE for more information.

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