Prof Howard Richards / Philosopher and Educationalist
Professor Howard Richards is a philosopher of social science who works with the concepts of basic cultural structures and constitutive rules. His research background covers a broad set of related issues including, educational pedagogy, rationality in cultural and societal structures, the global economy, and the importance of organisation in community development. Howard has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of California; a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School; an Advanced Certificate in Education from Oxford University; and a PhD in Educational Planning from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He now teaches at the University of Santiago and has ongoing roles at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business programme. He is the founder of the Peace and Global Studies Programme and a co-founder of the Business and Non-Profit Management Program at Earlham.
Howard has an impressive publishing record with major works including, The Evaluation of Cultural Action (1984); Letters from Quebec: A Philosophy for Peace and Justice (1994); Understanding the Global Economy (2004); The Dilemmas of Social Democracies: Overcoming Obstacles to a More Just World (2008); Gandhi and the Future of Economics (2011); The Nurturing of Time Future (2012); Rethinking Thinking: Modernity’s “Other” and the Transformation of the University (20120; and Unbounded Organizing in Community (2015), co-authored with Seriti Institute’s Dr Gavin Andersson. He also publishes in Spanish with notable works being Ética y Economía (1987) (Ethics and Economics), and Hacia otras Economias. Critica al paradigma dominante (2012) (Towards other Economies – Critique of the Dominant Paradigm). Currently based in Chile, he is co-chair of the Chilean group Repensar Ia Economía (Re-thinking the Economy).
Tinashe Kapuya / Agricultural Economist
Tinashe is an experienced soft commodities analyst, agricultural value chain and trade specialist who has worked in this capacity both as a researcher and as a practitioner in the private sector over the past 10 years. His areas of expertise include agribusiness and value chain development, market and trade analysis, agro-food system analysis, research and policy advocacy. At the USAID Southern African Trade and Investment Hub he is the Agribusiness Value Chain Specialist, providing technical input and support to SADC partner countries in formulating and implementing strategies which improve the regional competitiveness of agricultural commodities’ value chains, including facilitating commercial partnerships, accessing real-time market information systems and new technologies to promote regional trade and increase profitability for private sector businesses and cooperatives. As the Agribusiness Trade Specialist at Genesis Analytics, he provides agribusiness trade-related technical guidance and support to the Agribusiness, Climate Change and Market Development (AMD) team. Providing input into technical reports, programme design and scope of work development. He is also the Trade consultant at Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) where he manages, participates and ensures representation of the South African private sector and its mandated position on trade policy management areas in conjunction with the relevant subcommittee, with particular focus on the Technical Sectoral Liaison Sub-Committee (Teselico) and NAMA/NTBs task team at Nedlac. He also ensures the production of various forms of reports and materials such as position documents, policy documents, press statements, opinion editorials and speeches on areas related to trade policy. He is responsible for facilitating and obtaining BUSA mandates on policy management areas and related submissions.
Tinashe is also a local organising committee member for the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) Annual conference. He is an active member of the Counter Part Group concerned with future USA-RSA trade and investments relations and the implications of subsidies and support on SA agro-food sector. Tinashe read for his PhD with the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria. His research interests include climate change, agriculture, commodity and sector value chains and the state of grain markets. He enjoys working associations with Trade and Industrial Policies Systems (TIPS), the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), Centre for Rural Development (Zimbabwe) and the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) in Zambia.
Lesley Abrahams / Educationalist and Business Development Specialist
Lesley Abrahams is an experienced educationalist with more than 18 years’ experience in training and facilitation. He has extensive knowledge of the health sector specific to HIV AIDS and TB as he was the senior manager in charge of delivering training. He has over 14 years’ senior management and governance experience. Lesley has also been keenly involved in governance, organisational development and has contributed significantly to various turnaround strategies implemented at organisations. Lesley has extensive experience in client relationship management and has overseen the establishment of stakeholder relationships both locally and internationally. He has worked within the youth sector where he was involved in youth development programs both locally and internationally. His knowledge of funding opportunities and donor requirements is rich and he has been actively engaged with the Departments of Basic Education and Health, respectively, in the social services sector, with PEPFAR / USAID, and the Global Fund, among others. Lesley consults on strategic planning, proposal development and writing.
His background in the education sector, with exposure to policy and practices within the CAPS, NCS, OBE and accredited SETAs, supports his competencies in communication, project coordination, group facilitation, information gathering and report writing. Lesley is experienced in various learning methodologies and continuously hones these skills through collaborative exchange with other facilitators. He is proficient in all stages of the Project Management cycle and is experienced across different educational environments having worked extensively across diverse development contexts. Lesley holds a Bachelor of Arts and Honours in Psychology from the University of the Western Cape. He also has a Higher Diploma in Education from the University of the Western Cape.
Robynn Niemack / Social Entrepreneur and Strategist
Robynn Niemack is a social entrepreneur, strategist and life coach. Her focus areas include strategic change interventions, training and development, and social facilitation. Robynn’s training and corporate experience with local government and in the skills development sector provide a firm foundation for her work in community consultation, local economic development, skills development, and programme design and implementation. She is passionate about inspiring change by empowering people, activating sustainable development initiatives and supporting innovative ideas which uplift communities. Robynn’s hands-on, practical journey has been pivotal in the launching of the nation-building entity – Impact Africa – that has been established on the belief that together we can cultivate, healthy and economically active Africa. The organisation promotes the roles of leadership, personal development, and societal change. She is a strategic In on Africa partner on the Voices Unite campaign. With a wealth of practical experience in engagement, youth development and social facilitation, she interprets campaign data and stakeholder insights into youth employment and entrepreneurship programme design and implementation.
Robynn has worked at Services SETA, the Independent Electoral Commission, UGU District Municipality and the Institute of Local Government Management and has consulted in various capacities to the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, the Jobs Fund, Youth Employment Services (YES) and the Baviaanskloof Development Initiative. These platforms have informed her knowledge and experience of local government, the corporate sector, and grassroots community engagement.
Dugan Fraser / Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist
Dugan Fraser is an experienced professional in strategic planning, learning, and monitoring and evaluation, with over 25 years’ experience in the non-profit and public sectors. His special focus is on interventions targeting inequality and advancing rights. He specialises in providing leadership in institutional development, evaluation for learning and strategy development. An exceptional facilitator and communicator, Dugan has an inclusive approach and extensive experience in leadership, transformation and change management. He has extensive experience in providing support to a range of institutions, including, donor agencies, government departments and oversight agencies, conventional non-profits, social movements, networks, as well as collaborative entities. Dugan has extensive experience working internationally in diverse contexts, supporting various types of initiatives, including in, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Fiji, Philippines, Peru, and the Netherlands. His roles have included evaluations, institutional development and support, and program design. He holds a Masters in the Sociology of Development from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. A Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Sociology and Law, and an Honours in Sociology both from the University of the Witwatersrand.
Ximena Gonzalez / Economist
Ximena Gonzalez is an economist with almost 20 years of experience in the economic development space. She has a Master of Commerce degree in economics from the University of Witwatersrand. Over the years she has acquired a diverse range of experience having worked in a number of organisations ranging from the public sector, such as the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa, as well as the National Treasury in South Africa, through to various private sector consultancies and a number of Not-for-Profit companies, including being Executive Director of TIPS, a South-African based economic policy research organisation, for a number of years.
She has a multi-faceted skill set that ranges from project/programme design, management and M&E through to all aspects of organisational management, including strategic leadership and fundraising, as well as the ability to provide robust economic research to support policy strategy formulation and implementation. Her experience covers a number of areas including: development finance; international trade (including regional integration); industrial development; local economic development; employment creation; enterprise development and regulatory burdens to small business development, among others.
Ximena is currently part of a team working to put together a robust baseline picture of the SME landscape in South Africa. This work aims to develop a realistic understanding of the SME context in South Africa, based on sound evidence, to better inform policy and other support interventions in this area. She is progressively interested in the area of education and is currently doing own research trying to unpack the role that education policy and approaches to childhood development should play in helping the youth of today prepare for an unknown future with an entirely new landscape including elements such as artificial intelligence and occupations that are yet to exist.
Basil Manning / Facilitator and Consultant
Basil Manning is an accomplished consultant whose areas of speciality lie in change management, community development, organisation development, facilitation and facilitator training using participatory methodologies. In addition to being an ordained Minister and former President of the United Congregational Churches of Southern Africa, Basil has been instrumental in formulating a model for understanding racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination. This model has been widely applied in various contexts around the world (in Africa, Europe, the USA and Canada) through several institutions (NGOs, churches, academic institutions, corporates, parastatals and government). Further to this, his work has been widely published in various publications, and he is regularly invited on panel discussions, including by the media.
He is a former Executive Director of CARAS Trust and his work history included campaigning work on racism, theological education, counselling and chaplaincy work. Freelancing as an independent consultant on social inclusion and change management, acting as a specialist advisor on issues of human rights (especially racial and gender justice); he was also the coordinator of the framework for the National Action Plan and Strategy to Combat Racism (commissioned by the SAHRC after the WCAR). In addition to his impressive employment record, (as a community development worker, community organiser, tutor and Principal of Kgolagano College – Botswana), he serves in a voluntary capacity in several organisations, including with Seriti Institute, DPME, the Trevor Huddleston Centre, the OSDC and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Miranda Simrie / Enterprise Development Consultant
Miranda Simrie holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business. She has a Bachelor of Social Science and an Honours degree in psychology. She has more than 20 years’ experience in research, technical advisory, project/programme management, business development, marketing and communications, and committee relations. Her background in psychology makes her highly proficient in human relations and adept at multi-stakeholder engagement and conflict resolution. She has advanced expertise from her time as a senior technical advisor on the Jobs Fund. This work related to technical reporting standards and ensuring project management outputs conformed to funding criteria and guidelines. During her career, she has demonstrated a keen interest in women empowerment, job creation and innovative technological solutions to operational challenges related to social entrepreneurship and start-ups. She is tech-savvy and is experienced in HR matters and operations management. Miranda is currently a consultant working with both public and private sector clients on projects in the areas of enterprise development and entrepreneurship promotion/support.
Madoda Mbatha / Human Resources Specialist
Madoda Mbatha has a career in Human Resource Management that spans 35 years. As an HR Executive, he managed the HR Departments of five different organisations which included a university, a development corporation, two insurance companies and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). He is proficient in all aspects of Human Resource Management, industrial relations, and performance assessment and strategy. He is the recipient of the Institute of International Education/South African Education Programme Meritorious Scholarship, recipient of the New York Institute of Technology Graduate Scholarship and he was awarded a Harvard/South Africa Fellowship by Harvard University. He holds a Master of Science degree (in Labour and Industrial Relations) from the New York Institute of Technology, a Higher Diploma in Personnel Management from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Zululand.