Businessman starts R40m bursary fund

2011-02-03 08:22

Businessman Robert Gumede has started a R40-million scholarship to assist poor Mpumalanga highschool graduates to further their studies at tertiary level.

The Robert Gumede Family Keni Foundation has pledged to award the scholarship – which covers tuition, accommodation, meals, residence fees, books and stationery – to 20 matriculants every year starting in 2011.

Gumede, Department of Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande, and Mpumalanga education MEC Reginah Mhaule launched the scholarship in Nelspruit last night.

The businessman, who was raised by his domestic worker mother and started working aged seven as a golf caddy in Nelspruit, said that he chose to benefit Mpumalanga children as a way of ploughing back to the community that raised him.

“Minister (Nzimande), you know that I’m making money, but I don’t get a single cheque from Mpumalanga. I’m doing this independently and I can speak my mind,” Gumede said.

The 20 students would be selected by a panel – which considered, among many criteria, their academic ability and poor background.

“I have told the panel that one of the 20 students should be a golf caddy, and one should have attended one of my former schools – Khaliphani and Thembeka secondary schools and Mgwenyane Primary,” Gumede said.

“I’m doing this deliberately to ensure that we go back and help those people who shaped us,” he added.

Nzimande said he was pleased that Gumede made the condition that the beneficiaries would have to work in government or for non-governmental organisations.

“We love businesspeople who remember where they come from,” Nzimande said.

The selected students would study medicine, biochemistry, engineering, social work, teaching and accounting.

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