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CIDA City Campus: Taddy Blecher

Taddy Blecher has created innovative ways to motivate and educate PDI students




Taddy Blecher of CIDA

The rise and rise of CIDA City Campus isthanks largely to the irrepressible energy of its founder, Taddy Blecher (CIDAstands for Community and Individual Development Association). Blecher believesresolutely in the innate potential of every human being. “Poverty is a functionof the fact that people haven’t been taught how to solve problems. If wenurture every person’s talent, teach them how to create something from nothingand encourage them to lead lives of humanity and dignity, we could address somany social ills,” he says.

This philosophy fuelled Blecher’s drive toestablish CIDA. Having opened in 2000, the Campus now educates up to 3 000students each year and boasts several hundred graduates who have foundemployment in SA’s leading firms. The Campus has also expanded significantly,spawning a host of foundations, funds and academies aiming to help studentsfrom previously disadvantaged backgrounds further their education. Impressive it may be, but Blecher admitsthat CIDA’s progress had its hiccups.

“Naturally, there were many barriers toestablishing an institution that offers low-cost, technology-based education ona par with the country’s finest universities.” The answer to many of these obstacles layin innovative thinking. For example, to reduce administrative costs, Blecherintroduced a system whereby students assist with running the institution, workingin the kitchens, offices and libraries – in fact, anywhere help is required.

“Not only have we managed to save millionson administrative costs, we’ve also created a system that encourages studentsto take ownership of their campus. More than this, the tasks they undertaketeach them skills which eventually add up to work experience,” Blecher says.The institution also used creative thinkingto get past problems associated with access and funding. “Since most of ourstudents matriculated from disadvantaged schools, many have poor academicrecords. We’ve established bridging courses, vocational courses and academiesto ensure they still have access to further education, and to help them findjobs.“Funding has been boosted throughpartnerships with our corporate donors, whom we repay in kind, withscholarships for employees, free training or PR. We’ve also establishedfundraising foundations in the UKand US, and virtual foundations in Bermuda, Canada and Germany. Then there’s the CIDAInvestment Trust, which owns – partially or wholly – 10 businesses. The profitsof these companies are put back into the Campus.”

CIDA’s culture of lateral thinkingpermeates every aspect of its functioning, including the curriculum. “One ofour primary goals is to create a culture of entrepreneurship, and we encourageinnovative ideas,” Blecher affirms.This is supported by facilities like TheBranson School of Entrepreneurship at CIDA, established by Sir Richard Branson.In addition to implementing mentorship programmes and incubator support, theSchool has set up CIDA Seed, a R4 million fund to provide seed capital forstudents with sound business ideas.CIDA has also taken its spirit ofentrepreneurship beyond the Campus, thanks to the Nelson Mandela Extranet Programme.This initiative sees students taking their knowledge back to their communities,converting venues like halls, schools and churches into classrooms where theyteach the principles of entrepreneurship. “We’ve reached thousands of childrenthis way,” says Blecher.His quest to improve CIDA is unceasing inthe face of continuing challenges. “We have to ensure that CIDA maintains adynamic staff who believe in the vision. That means building a place wherepeople enjoy working. We also have to keep up to date with governmentrequirements and legislation, such as accreditation. The biggest challenge, ofcourse, is securing long-term sustainability, which is why we’ve establishedour various funds and trusts.”Despite these potential stumbling blocks,Blecher would change nothing about CIDA. “Establishing the Campus has been afantastic journey. We will overcome whatever challenges come our way throughinnovation, hard work, passion and our deep belief in the vision. We will nevergive up.”

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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