Allan Gray Orbis Foundation: Growing new leaders

2013-07-15 11:00

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He was working as a merchant banker in London when he got a call from Allan Gray with a vision for an entrepreneurial foundation.

What does the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation do?

We identify and develop talented young people with entrepreneurship potential. We support them through providing scholarships in high school or at university. Once they graduate from university, they become an Allan Gray Fellow.

How do they qualify for the scholarships?

We select about 30 to 40 people for high school scholarships and about 80 for university ones. They need to demonstrate intellectual ability, a desire for excellence, initiative and creativity. They also need to show commitment and take pride in their work.

What motivates you?

The desire to develop the talent of these young people and their entrepreneurial ability drives me.

What challenges have you encountered?

The main challenge was to make Mr Gray’s vision a reality and to find the right people to work with. We found that a lack of education and skills and the lack of access to university to be a challenge for youth. We’ve had to release youngsters from our programme who were not doing well and who have failed an important subject – this is sometimes a result of poor choice in selecting a suitable career.

What career advice would you give young people?

I believe you should identify your specific strengths and interests and use these as a guideline. If people are committed and passionate about what they want to do, they are guaranteed to succeed. Excellence, which is a result of dedication, will set you apart from your peers. Pursue something that you enjoy doing.

What have been the foundation’s achievements?

One of our alumni, Ludwick Marishane, was named one of the 100 World Class South Africans by City Press. We took him on at the end of his high school career. Ludwick is actively promoting his invention, DryBath, as well as interning at Technology Innovation Agency.

I admire

Jonathan Jansen, rector and vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State, and mobile communications billionaire Mo Ibrahim.

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