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Winning Women: A passion to develop

Jun 25 2017 07:09
Sue Grant-Marshall

A passion for meaningful development, combined with a deeply caring personality and a determination to see South Africans succeed in an increasingly complex and changing world, is what drives warmly welcoming Mankodi Moitse.

The Kagiso Trust CEO makes you feel, within minutes of meeting her, that you’ve known her for years. This doubtless helps to maintain the strong relationships forged over 30 years with others, working in the fields of socioeconomic development – particularly helping small business start-ups – and education, and helping municipalities to run efficiently through revenue management solutions.

Last year, through a partnership forged between Kagiso Trust, the Free State department of education and the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, the largely rural province achieved an 88.2% matric pass rate. It beat Western Cape into second place and Gauteng into third place.

The process in the Free State started with a needs analysis. “We don’t adopt a top-down approach,” says Moitse. “The trust goes in from the ground up to work out what problems need addressing. You can’t impose solutions without understanding the challenges.”

One of those was schools with no toilets, where teachers had to urinate under trees with their pupils. The trust found children with no shoes and others who were so short-sighted that they couldn’t see what was written on the blackboard. It helped provide footwear and spectacles.

With its partners, it also set out to ensure that schools were reasonably comfortable environments and thus conducive to better learning.

“We work in provinces that welcome us,” emphasises Moitse. “It’s a receiver-hungry approach.”

When asked if the trust would need to intervene if the South African government did its job better, she responds frankly.

“We often ask ourselves that question. But, no matter what the government does, rural schools will still require support.”

Moitse points out that the trust’s Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme has supported over 200 000 school children in 166 schools, with an investment of R200 million in the programme.

“Kagiso Trust is self-funded with over R7 billion in net assets and we use the dividends from our investments to fund our programmes.

“Although that might sound impressive, in reality it’s a drop in the ocean of needs and we need to collaborate with like-minded organisations in order to make a broader impact.”

Moitse is passionate about helping to create and support small businesses for, after all, they are part of the solution to South Africa’s jobs crisis.

She talks about some young women who developed a small business from freezing fresh produce. But they faced formidable obstacles when trying to sell into big stores.

“We suggested they try different markets. And, when they decided they wanted to farm themselves, they struggled to obtain funding due to a lack of collateral.”

Now the trust hopes to help them obtain funding. It will also help them identify different markets for their produce.

The results of their efforts are impressive. The Kagiso Enterprises Rural Private Equity Fund has invested over R50 million since 2002 in small to medium-sized businesses. It has funded 11 companies that have created over 3 100 jobs.

The lively mother (53) of two grown-up children grew up in fairly challenging circumstances in Soweto.

Her father, a driver, only had a few years at school and her mother, who matriculated in the same year that Moitse did, was a teacher.

The Kagiso CEO knows what it’s like to be demotivated, for she was a teacher at Namedi Secondary School in Diepkloof, Soweto, “where there were no ceilings and consequently teacher morale was low”.

Nothing, however, could hold back the determined young woman from obtaining her BCom honours at the University of the Witwatersrand, before obtaining her master’s in Business Leadership from Unisa in 1995.

Over the past 20 years she’s been an accountant for several companies, the group chief financial officer for the City of Johannesburg and the head of integrated residential developments for Standard Bank.

She relaxes by walking to keep fit, and occasionally plays golf and the piano.

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