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 NPOs under spotlight in USB-ED Imbizo

2014-11-05 00:00
Issued by MediaVision on behalf of USB-ED

Prof Arnold Smit, Director of USB-ED’s Centre for Business
in Society,  Amini Kajunju, President and CEO of AAI and
Peter Bamkole, Director of the Enterprise Development Centre
(Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos)



Purpose, professionalism, innovation and measurement are of great importance to non-profit organisation (NPO’s), but should not be applied in such a manner that it dilutes the compassionate attributes that make these organisations so different from other business organisations.

The importance of well-equipped, well-managed and governed NPOs in delivering quality services in every society is recognised worldwide.  In South Africa alone there are about 100 000 of these organisations and about R35 billion worth of social investment goes through them annually.

However, the success and sustainability of NPOs depends to a large extent on leaders who have the capacity to deal with the myriad of challenges they face on a daily basis, and on the quality of the strategic partnerships that are formed with different sectors in order to unlock and harness scarce resources.

This is according to Prof Arnold Smit, director of the Centre for Business in Society at USB Executive Development, the public executive development and training company of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

USB Executive Development (USB-ED), in partnership with the Africa-America Institute (AAI), recently presented a NPO Leadership Imbizo in Johannesburg with the aim to explore strategies for NPOs to achieve greater sustainability through attracting support and investment together with strengthening the capacity of leaders.

The event was the culmination of more than 80 NPO leaders and managers who, over the last two years, attended USB-ED’s NPO Leadership and Strategy Programme as part of the Africa America Institute's broader initiative called the Transformational Leadership Programme (TLP).

The Imbizo were attended by the AAI’s management team, programme partners from Nigeria, programme facilitators, programme alumni, representatives of various NGOs as well as corporate sponsors and CSI managers.

Commenting on why a business school would be mindful of the management development needs of NPO’s, Prof Smit said: “We believe that society needs good leaders and managers across all sectors, we believe that social sector empowerment is essential for a skilful, productive and prosperous country and we believe in the necessity of collaboration between business, government and civil society if we want to overcome the challenges of our time.”

Amini Kajunju, the president and CEO of the AAI, highlighted the organisation’s involvement in capacity building in education over a period of 61 years, especially in higher education on the African continent.

“The AAI therefore finds the partnerships with USB-ED, and so also with institution in Kenya and Nigeria, to be a natural continuation of this very mission, in fact it wants to contribute towards tripling the number of top notch universities on the continent in the years to come.”

Varkey George from Multiple Income Generating Strategies (MIGS) and a programme facilitator at USB-ED, said given the state of the world, our societal challenges are going to increase, resulting in NPOs becoming even more important in the future.

However, with most NPOs already under financial strain, one might well ask where the resources are going to come from.  For this, more innovative and entrepreneurial frameworks will be needed.

Shelagh Gastrow, the Executive Director of Inyathelo, said for NPOs ‘attracting’ money is far better than ‘asking’ for it. The best position to be in is to get money without proposals.

“This, however, does not happen overnight and goes with the understanding of a number of very important principles, one of which is the role of leadership.  The leader or CEO of a NPO needs to focus on vision, organisational image, relationships, profiling, fundraising and prioritisation.”

David Newby, the Managing Trustee of SEED Educational Trust, said NPO’s should stay true to its purpose, withstand the temptation of pursuing too many different priorities at the same time and to learn how to achieve a significant impact with a low cost operating model that delivers great value for beneficiaries and the sponsor alike.

In a panel discussion Jennifer Bisgard, the Director of Khulisa Management Services, together with Amini Kujunju (AAI), Peter Bamkole (Nigeria) and Rhoda Kadalie (Impumelelo) tried to demystify what is often the bane of NPOs, namely, monitoring and evaluation. But “what you don’t measure, can’t be managed.”
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Business in Society