Transformation in her blood
Show me what you’re doing for the country and then we can talk
CHANTYL MULDER began 2010 with a R10,5m headache. As the head of the Thuthuka Education, Upliftment and Bursary Fund, she was sitting with matriculants she’d taken on to put through university but no funds. Mulder has made transformation in the finance sector her life mission. Her role at Thuthuka and at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) as senior executive: professional development, transformation and growth, mean her days are spent looking for ways to give underprivileged students a chance for a better future.
Most of the bursary recipients are from rural areas, which Mulder says are often overlooked. On average youngsters who make it through the programme touch the lives of seven people – often educating siblings and even building homes for the families.
With this untapped talent – with the need far outstripping funds going into 2010 – turning away children wasn’t seen as an option. In that instance Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande came to the party and covered the shortfall, which led him to ask for a five-year plan from Mulder and her team to secure funding for undergraduates.
The SA Revenue Service and Auditor General have also been credited with coming on board. The Setas play more of a role with postgraduate students. “Government really plays its part but there’s still so much money that lies unspent in Setas – which is a tragedy,” says Mulder.
It seems the second tragedy is the amount of money tied up in administration costs, with only a trickle reaching the people who need it most. Mulder is convinced Thuthuka has hit on a winning formula. Saica members contribute R4 000/year each through their membership fees, which covers admin costs. All the funds raised go to bursary winners.
Now Mulder’s on a mission to convince Saica’s members to pledge an additional R500/year each, which will total around R15m if every member does. It sounds too much asking more from people who are already giving. Mulder argues it isn’t so much about how much is being given but how much someone still has in his pocket afterwards.
Since establishing Thuthuka in 1992 and growing it into the biggest consolidation of business, universities and employers, Mulder has learnt it’s more than just funding students. Creating an environment where there’s accommodation, food and study material makes all the difference between pulling students through and having some fall by the wayside. Thuthuka also assists institutions to become accredited.
Thuthuka also seems to have completely taken over Mulder’s life and she admits some people can’t understand her commitment to transformation as a white woman. She describes it as her most significant accomplishment, apart from having her daughter. As she heads off on holiday, she takes her laptop with her because that’s when she gets her best ideas.