Media Statements

For immediate release: Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The South African Institute for Advancement - Inyathelo - says the ongoing global economic crisis coupled with dwindling international funding is threatening the future of many civil society organisations who support the most vulnerable and needy in our country. The institute says South Africa desperately needs a new generation of social activists and philanthropists to fight the ravages of poverty and unemployment, and ensure that our civil society sector continues to thrive and provide a much needed safety net for millions of South Africans.

Inyathelo Programme Director Gabrielle Ritchie says we can’t continue to take for granted the thousands of organisations that currently provide vital services to those needing social protection. “We need a complete change of mindset and a bigger involvement by individuals and society as a whole if we want to live up to the aspirations of our Constitution - which is our social contract to forge a society based on equality, human dignity and the advancement of human freedom. South Africa remains the most unequal society in the world, plagued by unacceptably high levels of poverty and unemployment. We need to evoke a renewed culture of giving in our country to bridge the shocking gap between those who have and those who don’t. We believe private philanthropy has the capacity to serve as the engine room of social change in South Africa,” says Ritchie.

As part of their efforts to promote social investment, entrepreneurship and giving, Inyathelo is currently searching for nominees for its annual Philanthropy awards which honour those who give their time, talent and personal resources to help people in need. Adrienne Coetzee, Inyathelo Manager of Communications and Philanthropy, says the primary objective of the awards is to inspire all South Africans to take responsibility for the country’s social development by giving and contributing what they can. “Philanthropists come from all walks of life. Social giving is certainly not just the realm of rich. You don’t have to be a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffett or an Oprah Winfrey to make a difference in your community. There are thousands of people across all economic classes who have given - to causes, issues and institutions that mean something to them, contributing to the public good. We want to know who they are as we believe that by highlighting their achievements will inspire others to make a contribution,” explains Coetzee.

Last year’s awardees include the likes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Linda Clement Twala (who started Phuthaditjaba, a Community Centre in Alexandra township), Francois van Niekerk (Head of the Mertech group who established the Mergon Foundation in 1982), best-selling author Richard Mason (who set up the Kay Mason Foundation in memory of his sister), Jonathan Schrire (Chairperson of the Vrygrond Community Development Trust which has built houses, schools and a library with the help of a Cape Town community) and Refiloe Seseane (a former soap opera star who started the non profit organisation 18twenty8 aimed at empowering young women).

Seseane is currently completing her masters in Economics and has worked as a Business Analyst for Allan Grey and BoE. “I’m more interested in living a life of significance as opposed to success because success is something that you do for yourself. You have a nice car, the clothes, the recognition etc. but a person of significance is someone who touches the lives of others, and I’m really working towards that. That is why I got into the field of philanthropy . A lot of the times we feel overwhelmed by the problems and the challenges that we experience on a day-to-day basis. But one person can make a difference, and when you do make that difference and they see you as that shining example, other people will join in,” says Seseane.

Jonathan Schrire agrees that individual philanthropy is one of the most powerful and effective ways to support social development in South Africa and make a significant impact on reducing the concentrations of poverty and inequality. “We can’t wait for the government to do everything. Each South African has to look at the people around them and think: what can I do? If individuals across the country start to ask themselves that question, start to try to imagine what life is like for other people, then South Africa is going to really fulfil its potential,” insists Schrire.

Nominations for the 2011 Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards close on Thursday, 30 June. Award categories include arts, media, youth, family, community, lifetime, international and health. For more information, call 021 465 6981 or visit

Find out more about the Nomination Submission Process and read the Nomination Criteria and Rules.

Submit a nomination online by completing the Online Nomination Form or print out a nomination form and send to Inyathelo, PO Box 43276, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915.

For more information and interview requests, please contact us.