There was a particularly challenging period of time for me during my studies when I had lost confidence in my abilities and became unsure of what the next steps would be for me. I had a conversation with a friend who said, “You have all that it takes, you just need to get some runs on the board.” I knew then that I needed to put myself out there and get some wins. I became part of Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ), and I volunteered at the UCT Refugee Clinic. I coordinated food drives, clothing drives, weekly legal clinics for the greater Khayelitsha area and provided legal advice to refugees seeking asylum.
This gave me the confidence to start working for an NGO called World Merit, where I continued planning, coordinating and participating in community upliftment projects. I was getting “runs on the board”, my self- confidence grew exponentially and I could finally see the link between my passion and what I was studying. Somehow, the next steps seemed clearer.
I started my own organisation, called “projectxfemme”, aimed at empowering young women. This developed into Athari Bantu, an incubator programme and fund for NGOs. It aims to support grassroots-level NGOs through various capacity-building interventions and access to capital, and it ensures that these initiatives are ready for funding, scale and impact.
Starting an organisation centred around impact requires grit, a conviction about your passion and unique contribution to the world, and the ability to put yourself out there
The mission of Athari Bantu is to encourage the substantial participation of African NGOs in matters of global governance and the development of a unified African non-profit ecosystem. Through this, I have had the ability to meet incredible people, work in the area of my passion, and contribute substantially to the development space. I have had the privilege of working at organisations like the World Bank and YES4Youth. I now balance my work as an African NGO ecosystem builder with a full-time management consulting career where I consult large corporations on impact and shared value.
To date, Athari Bantu has assisted over 20 NGOs to make a bigger and better impact across different regions in South Africa, spanning interest areas in education, substance abuse, advocacy and female empowerment. It has been a pleasure seeing how many people are committed to solving problems and making changes in their communities.
Impact work can be likened to dominoes. When one person takes a big leap and starts an organisation, or when another volunteers, and when another donates, they have no idea who their ‘yes’ has helped down the line. Starting an organisation centred around impact requires grit, a conviction about your passion and unique contribution to the world, and the ability to put yourself out there. All of which are lessons I learnt using the opportunities I had available at UCT, coming out of a very difficult period in my life. Each of us can make a meaningful contribution to the continent. Your ‘yes’ is the beginning of impact.