Brian Sokol/MSF

The rain has started to fall in Nepal: monsoon season has begun. Within two weeks it will pour heavily for two full months. All the cracks in the slopes of the mountains will be filled with water and will create more landslides and mudslides to deal with.

Soon all the villagers we have been trying to rescue for the past two weeks will be faced with yet another nightmare. This terrain is surely the most complicated and violent I have worked with.

The earth moves every day – the aftershocks are quite large. On the ground floor of a hotel in Kathmandu, we are sleeping with headlamps, whistles around our necks ready to rush out every time we feel an aftershock.

My entire field experience is put to the test in this environment, on a daily basis.  We need to be creative, fast and extremely prudent and cautious with what we do and the way we do it.

The earth moves everyday – aftershocks are quite big. Located on the ground floor of a hotel in Kathmandu we are sleeping with headlamp, whistles around our neck ready to rush out each every time it is happening.

Helicopters have replaced cars in this mission and we are flying with two or three helicopters every day. But this multiplies the risks daily - especially in the Himalayas when the weather is unpredictable and volatile from one hour to the next.

The wind in the valley is our worst enemy. Even though Nepali pilots are reputed to be the best in the world, this country has the world record of flight accidents. The Himalayas are feature a paradox: its beauty to me is one of our world’s wonders, but the Himalayas are also a dangerous mistress – unpredictable and violent.

 Brian Sokol/MSF

Yesterday, we landed on a slope of a mountain with no more than just enough space to land the helicopter. After offloading the mobile team and cargo, a sudden loud noise occurred above our heads: a landslide. A rock the size of a car stopped 50 metres from myself, the pilot and the helicopter. We were lucky. It is not an easy terrain to navigate and we are learning everyday.

The large MSF response involves 120 international staff on the ground, working in four districts heavily affected close to the epicenter by the quake. Most of the members of our teams are from Latin America, and they are all used to working at high altitudes.

Based at 3 500 metres high we are surrounded by amazing landscapes and some of the highest peaks in the world – all above 8 000 metres. Of the 10 highest peaks in the world, 8 of them are in Nepal – as relayed by the guides who accompany us.

Working at the Tibetan border in the Manaslu Conservation Area offers striking surroundings. There is water everywhere: torrents, streams, cascades and water falls. Monasteries are everywhere at the outskirts of the villages. They dot the foot paths, lining the trails to the top of every peak.

The Nepalese have now gone from being an already remote and isolated population, to an almost completely abandoned one. Very few people - almost none – have arrived in the area to come to the aid of the people of Nepal.

It is devastating to land and see the scale of the disaster, but we are almost considered as heroes. We have been blessed so many times by the people living here.

I have even collected an assortment of sacred scarves: every time I head to the helicopter to descend to base camp 1000 metres below, I am adorned with the scarves placed around my neck by those peopled wishing us well.

MSF updates from Nepal

This past month has been an insightful journey here at The RealStart Trust, starting with the first phase of our Entrepreneurship Programme. It’s great to get the theory down, but as all well know, the real learning starts when you get practical.

Walking with the students as they critically engage with perceptions around their own skills and dreams, business and the opportunities in their communities, has not only brought some valuable insight to the table, but also raised interesting questions.

Questions of creating true value, finding motivation and bringing people together. From making bow-ties, headbands and sling bags from scraps of material, to interviewing business owners from various nationalities in their communities, the students are being challenged to step outside their comfort zone and discover their entrepreneurial abilities.

I must admit, when giving the first homework assignment to our students to identify a gap in the market in their community, I was expecting easy answers. Selling a straight forward product to make a quick buck. However, the feedback was surprising and thought provoking. Without exception, each business idea had its roots in addressing a social need.

Although the business models may still need some work, this is an inspiring testimony to a new generation of youth that are aware of the needs around them and are willing to work towards building a better future in South Africa. This is not just a nice-to-hear reflection from one youth development programme, I believe this is an urgent call for all in South Africa to actively focus on nurturing and equipping the youth of our nation. I also believe that a mere programme is never enough, we are called to get our hands dirty through relationship to truly see lives change.

Reading the Huffington Post article, The Solution to Unemployment? Turning Job Seekers into Job Creators by Sunnie Groeneveld this morning, the reality of a worldwide call to action struck me harder than my Monday morning caffeine fix.

I think we should be wary to take a cookie cutter approach to applying entrepreneurial lessons learnt in a first world context to the dynamic, and sometimes unpredictable, South African context, but the golden thread appears to run true through all continents. Worldwide there is an unemployment crisis and the need to critically engage with the entrepreneurial climate of your country and community is as big in America and Greece, as it is in George and Gugulethu.

Groeneveld refers to Peter Vogel’s book Generation Jobless? Although the book is still on my next-to-read list, the article already gave me a good bite to chew on. Entrepreneurship is not only an answer to youth unemployment, but it can be an exciting, challenging and innovative answer to all unemployment. Groeneveld draws three specific reasons for the importance of youth entrepreneurship development from Vogel’s book:

  • Entrepreneurship creates employment opportunities for those that start the businesses as well as those that they employ, particularly because young entrepreneurs are more prone to hiring other young people.
  • Entrepreneurship helps develop new skills and professional experience that, in turn, can enhance general employability.
  • Entrepreneurship revitalises local communities through new products and services and keeps otherwise young and idle people occupied, which is always better than not having anything to do, leaving them feeling useless and without hope.

The words that personally stand out to me are ‘feeling useless and without hope’. May we fight against the hopelessness that so often knocks at our door in South Africa. Although international books and articles offer valuable insight and knowledge to draw from in this fight, we here at RealStart believe strongly in the power of homegrown stories.

Everyday stories of hope, hard work, community and growth. Through this blog series we will share some of the proudly South African stories that are inspiring our students to becoming change agents, but we also invite you to share the stories that are inspiring you too.

Simple testimonies of ground level entrepreneurial success to big impact organisational best practices. We are excited to share and discover with you to build a hopeful community, working together to enable youth and change the nation.

Share your story below or on Twitter (@realstart) using the hashtag #HomegrownEntrepreneur.


Youth in the black and coloured groups of South Africa have the highest rates of unemployment in the country – that’s according to the latest Stats SA report released in September 2014 titled ‘Employment, Unemployment, Skills and Economic Growth’. The same report indicates that the unemployment rate for those with tertiary qualifications increased from six percent in 1994 to 14 percent in 2014.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) paints an equally grim picture. According to the WEF Global Risk 2014 report, South Africa has the third-highest unemployment rate in the world for people between the ages of 15 and 24. The report shows that 52 percent of young people in South Africa are unemployed. This paints an alarming picture for young people in South Africa who believe that acquiring a diploma or degree will guarantee that they are employed after they graduate.

“As we look back at graduation, which took place on Friday, 8 May 2015, we are confident that we have produced quality graduates who can compete in the workplace because of all the preparation that accompanies their studies, says Indira Govender, vice principal at Rosebank College, Durban. “Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE).  As an indication 1 633 IIE graduates were placed in companies across South Africa during 2014. These include top businesses such as Cell C, SABC, BIDVEST, Paperplus, Standard Bank and Internet Solutions to name a few. This equates to an impressive six IIE graduates per working day who have been placed successfully in full time positions in the South African work force,” adds Govender.

However, there are several factors which determine whether graduates receive employment or not.  This ranges from possessing the right experience, the quality of your qualification and having the correct employment attraction skills, says Lilian Bususu, national graduate development manager at The IIE Rosebank College. “Graduates need to be proactive and need to understand that they are competing on a global stage and not just with their classmates. We have also come to realise that students do not know how to physically search for and apply for employment.”

To address this problem The IIE Rosebank College initiated the Graduate Empowerment Programme (GEP)] in 2012. “Our graduates were graduating but they were struggling to find employment. The GEP was created to prepare our students for the world of work after graduation as we realised that students needed to be career coached and prepared in other ways for employment,” adds Bususu.

Carol Tshabalala graduated top of her class with a three year National Diploma in Public Relations from the Sunnyside Campus in Pretoria. She received employment soon after in a call centre but left because she was not fulfilled in her position. “I was very unhappy and did not realise that things were about to change for the better when I was contacted by The IIE Rosebank College Sunnyside Campus Career Centre administrator.” After leaving her employment, Tshabalala was called in for several interviews but never landed any of the jobs.

“I didn’t know what I was doing wrong until I was asked to stand in front of my peers during a GEP workshop and pretend that I was being interviewed.” Tshabalala received constructive criticism on what she needed to change and positive reinforcement on what she was doing well. “They also look at what you are wearing and your general appearance. They basically polish you up. “You already have your theory, so this helps you put your best foot forward at your next interview.”

Not only was Tshabalala assisted with how to perfect a job interview, she was also advised on the importance of using the correct grammar. “A lot of what people get wrong during interviews is related to their grammar. How you speak is very important. When I stood in front of the group, I spoke very fast because I was nervous. This was pointed out to me and I had to learn how to slow down and this has boosted my confidence.”

During career coaching sessions, graduates are taught how to effectively search for a job. They are advised not to randomly send their CV’s to possible employers but to rather focus on what they want to do and how to tailor their CV’s for the position that they are applying for.

The GEP aims to empower graduates with tools that will allow them to find employment that matches their skill set and qualification. Lehlohonolo Tseke is such an example. Tseke studied towards a Diploma in Public Relations and is now employed by the Institute of Municipal Finance Officers in the Marketing & Sponsorships Division as an intern. He attributes his success to all the tips and support he received from The IIE Rosebank College.

“I'll forever be grateful to the opportunity given to me by The IIE Rosebank College Braamfontein as well as the Rosebank College National Office, thank-you to my principal, my programme coordinators, my academic assistants, my lecturers and my career centre coordinator. I’d like to say continue with the great work you are doing in placing graduates.”

The IIE Rosebank College has partnered with over 600 corporates and is always looking for more companies to collaborate with. “We supply these corporates with The IIE graduate CV’s and make sure that we fill their posts with our best IIE Rosebank Graduates who match the requirements and culture of the company.”

To date The IIE Rosebank College has placed over 3000 students in employment since the programme began in 2012.

“We make sure that The IIE Rosebank College graduates get the chance they deserve to realise their dreams, by making sure that they are quality and employable graduates,” says Bususu. 

For more information contact:

Karabo Keepile
Tel: 011 403 3680

About IIE Rosebank College

The IIE Rosebank College is dedicated to providing students with a solid foundation, creating future thinkers to build successful careers. Our quality, accredited courses have a strong technological focus enabling you to thrive in today’s working world.

Whether you study at our Braamfontein, Auckland Park, Pretoria CBD, Pretoria Sunnyside or Durban campuses, and enrol for a degree, diploma or higher certificate. We are a worthy higher education partner for all students who entrust us with their career development. For more information, refer to

Follow us on Twitter @RosebankRC

Risk is inherent to the life in general and in the nonprofit organisations (NPO) field in particular. In the NPO field risks cannot be avoided and are part of our everyday organisational life. This has always been the case - The future is always uncertain and the outcomes of events unpredictable. Why then the perpetual surprise in the NPO field when these risks pop up.  Why then the resistance in developing plans to address the risks and the tendency to year after year raise the negative impact of the same risk as opposed to yearly evaluating the impact of our plans/activities to address the risks. 

Is it because action is then internalised in the organisation, and evaluated as such - as opposed to the NPO being a passive recipient of negative external actions? Is it because the possible action is going to take us out of our comfort zone? Don’t we want to ask the questions because we don’t like the answer’s that is going to be produced?

In our work with NPO and other civil society organisations in developing risk management plans the resistance to developing action plans to prevent risks or limit the impact of risks is unfortunately quite too often clear. Many organisations can give detailed and comprehensive descriptions of risks they face, can detail the triggers and impact.  However, if they have to develop plans to address the risks on an organisational level, detail and clear actions are quite often superficial.

NPOs and civil society organisations who shy away from developing comprehensive risk management plans (with clear actions that they are going to take) are setting themselves up  to continue being passive recipients of other’s actions and decisions. In addition, aspects such a strategic planning and change actions are going to continue being repetitive process of discussing the impact ‘old’ problems, as opposed to discussing the impact of actual actions undertaken by the organisation in addressing the “old” problems.

  • Pauline Roux is the managing partner of The Organisational Puzzle.

A few years ago Laurie Owen was attacked in her Kyalami, Johannesburg home.

Returning from dinner one early Friday evening, she walked down her driveway to find three men waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs.

Beating, robbing and gang-raping her for hours, the perpetrators escaped after Owen managed to get to a panic button located in the room. After the initial shock, Owen decided to do something positive with her traumatic experience and to help prevent others from experiencing a similar fate. Her family and a team of volunteers have since developed WARear an anti-rape, gender-based-violence non-governmental organisation based in South Africa. She has since been interviewed on Sky News and is currently developing a personal security device that has the potential to revolutionise the crime rate in South Africa and worldwide.

For more information, refer to (video).


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