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Social Entrepreneur Richard Mabaso Keeps Girls In School

Social entrepreneur, Richard Mabaso, is ensuring that young girls receive the education that is their right with his Imbumba Foundation.

Monique Verduyn

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Imbumba-Foundation_Self-Development_Snapshots_Success Stories

Vital Stats

  • Player: Richard Mabaso
  • Company: Imbumba Foundation
  • Passion: Working with and developing rural communities.
  • Contact: imbumbafoundation.org ;+27 (0)73 557 2189

It’s estimated that more than two million young girls, aged 12 to 18, live below the poverty line in South Africa, which means they cannot afford sanitary towels.

Without these basic products, they are simply too embarrassed to go to school. This puts them at a disadvantage and the consequences are disastrous:  They miss a few days of class every month, or drop out of school altogether.

The plight of young girls in these circumstances is one of the social concerns that drove social entrepreneur Richard Mabaso, who has a passion for working with rural communities, to set up the Imbumba Foundation in 2010, with the support of leadership expert Duncan Burman, and funders from the UK.

In July 2012, Mabaso teamed up with experienced climber Sibusiso Vilane, the first black person to complete the Three Poles Challenge — comprising the North and South Poles and Mount Everest — to climb Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Imbumba-Foundation-for-girls_Snapshots_Success Stories

This winning team undertook the challenge to collect 67 000 sanitary towels for girls from poor communities throughout the country, as part of the ‘67 minutes for Mandela Day’ campaign. It was such an extraordinary success that they did it again in 2013.

“Over the past two years we have raised over 130 000 packets of sanitary towels as part of the Caring4Girls initiative, and we have reached at least 10 000 girls,” says Mabaso.

“Caring4Girls operates in impoverished areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. We are always seeking sponsors to help us provide sanitary products. The sponsor simply has to identify a school of their choice, and we do the implementation, execution, monitoring and evaluation.”

In a country where historical and economic prejudice against women is high, black girls are doubly disadvantaged as a result of their race and their gender. Mabaso is helping to ensure that a greater number of them get to finish school and realise their dreams.

“Our goal is to empower girls, and enable inclusive community development as a result,” he says.

Strength in Partnership

  • When you have a goal, look for individuals you can team up with who share your outlook and vision.
  • Show that your cause has the power to bring positive change and people will buy in.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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