Impumelelo - The Stellenbosch Academy for Social Innovation

Finding African solutions to African problems

Former anti-apartheid activist, columnist and former Human Rights Commissioner, Rhoda Kadalie of University Estate is “finding African solutions to African problems”.

Ms Kadalie has been the director of Impumelelo Innovations Awards Trust since its inception in 1999. Impumelelo awards innovative programmes by both governmental departments as well as NGOs in the country that assist in service delivery. Under Ms Kadalie’s leadership, Impumelelo has grown into a national awards programme.

“We reward people who have assisted with service delivery and poverty reduction, but we also reward those who come up with innovative solutions to old problems,” Ms Kadalie said.

She told the Plainsman that many of the projects and programmes that are awarded by Impumelelo annually are run by women.

“In my job I get to meet some of the most amazing women from all over South Africa and I am humbled by them. South Africa is a great country because of the army of women that are uplifting their communities,” Ms Kadalie said.

Although Impumelelo consists of just five permanent staff members, Ms Kadalie often gives her employees the opportunity to attend conferences and said she hoped it would help them to grow.

“There are many NGOs whose directors often hog all the opportunities, especially when a conference requires you to travel. I have travelled quite widely and often send my staff as it gives them an opportunity to grow,” she said.

Ms Kadalie believes in supporting and empowering women who work in their communities but acknowledges that a lack of resources affected the ability of smaller NGOs and Non–Profit Organisations (NPO) to achieve theirgoals.

“What we need in this country is a strong women’s movement, where middle class women come alongside working class women and assist them by sharing resources and training them. I am amazed by how many women in the townships have become entrepreneurs and these are the women that we need to be training and investing in, so that they can grow,” she said.

Ms Kadalie spoke of various projects being run by South African women which address various issues from HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis to sanitation and poverty reduction.

“We need to dispel the myth that we cannot find solutions to our own problems and we have numerous projects that are addressing the issue faced by many South Africans.

“It’s time to find African solutions to African problems,” Ms Kadalie said.

Originally published in The Independent on 6 August 2009

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