Mankodi Moitse is CEO of Kag­iso Trust, one of SA’s lead­ing de­vel­op­ment agencies. It works for free­dom from poverty and has been in ex­is­tence for more than 30 years, writes Sue Grant-Mar­shall

CityPress - - Business -

Apas­sion 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 short­sighted 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 like­minded 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.

PAS­SION Kag­iso Trust CEO Mankodi Moitse

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