Aiding Government - The Kagiso Trust Story

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Wednesday, 25 March, 2015 - 10:34

Since its establishment, Kagiso Trust continues to be at the forefront of ensuring that the poor and the marginalised have access to higher education in South Africa 

Before democracy Kagiso Trust played the role of government as the then apartheid government looked out for the interests of the minority, placing little if any importance on the needs of the majority.
With the advent of sanctions imposed on South Africa, we were always of the view that our people needed to be protected from the consequences and so between the South African Council of Churches and Kagiso Trust we worked to mitigate the impact of these sanctions by supporting families with a monthly stipend for several years while also assisting to defend cases of those standing in court against the then oppressive government.

In many ways Kagiso Trust was born out of the vehicle of the South African Council of Churches, who in 1987 was accused of treason. It was said in court that we were acting like an alternative government and spent R6 million, which was a very big budget then, for our legal defence.

The Kagiso Trust miracle story was when in 1993 the world decided to pull the plug on South Africa. As a consequence, monies that we had traditionally received from our biggest international funders dried up. The European Union with its total contribution of R842 634 096 and the Japanese Embassy with its total contribution of R107 847 725 to Kagiso Trust were always clear that we understood the needs of our people, but like most non-governmental organisations who rely on donor funding there was a constant push and pull towards furthering the urgent development agenda and sustainability.

It became clear in 1993 that in order to survive we would need to develop a strategy that took advantage of Broad Based Economic Empowerment and the investment space to make us self-sufficient so that we could continue to do the work that we do. This is when the decision was made to develop our own investment company which would build capital and dividends to fund the organisation.
Our forward looking approach has today made us the only African development organisation that survived this period and has made us sustainable with a current net worth of over R7 billion.

Currently Kagiso Trust focuses largely on education because we believe that this is the best intervention to address historical exclusion. By offering our people education we give them a better opportunity to compete in the global market. Through interventions such as the Eric Molobi Scholarship Programme we take students from poor communities and give them a chance at higher education. In the Free State we are saying to government: “we want to help you to solve the education crises.” Our intellectual and replicable solutions to education have helped hundreds of schools achieve remarkable results and turn whole schools around for the better.

By mentoring teachers, students, we make sure that no one is left to fall in between the cracks and that we help government achieve its goals faster. Our approach is to help government resolve the crises that is facing the education landscape in a shorter period of time.  

We are fast tracking change by giving previously disadvantage young South Africans a level playing field and we can produce evidence to show that our approach has succeeded.

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary we look back and also look into the future and ask ourselves, what have we learnt and how can we achieve more impact.
By Reverend Frank Chikane, Chairman of Kagiso Trust

About the Kagiso Trust

The long history of Kagiso Trust (KT) is entrenched in building sustainable partnerships for poverty eradication. For over 20 years, KT has worked with South Africans to achieve a society which offers liberty, justice and freedom from poverty. The core business of KT is empowering poor marginalised South Africans so as to affirm their place and participation in the larger social institution. KT pursues an organisational development strategy that seeks to maximize its unique strength of relating to ordinary people, particularly in rural communities, as well as its’ considerable experience in development facilitation to identify sustainable solutions towards poverty eradication. It currently has three programmes, the Beyers Naude Schools Development Programme, the Eric Molobi Scholarship Programme and the Kagiso Enterprises Rural Private Equity Fund. For more information, refer to

Kagiso celebrates 30 years

In 2015 Kagiso Trust celebrates 30 years of successful empowerment of poor and marginalised South Africans.  We invite stakeholders and the public to be involved in our 30 year celebration activities and events. The next 30 years will be focussed on four strategic strands of development, collaboration, innovation and sustainability.
Enquiries, Mamello Lefefa, Tel: 011 303 7030, Mobile: 078 425 0731, Email:
For more about the Kagiso Trust, refer to

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