Through the initiatives and intervention of former Australian diplomats, Di Johnstone and Bruce Haigh, and the Australian High Commission in South Africa, the Ifa Lethu Foundation was launched in November 2005. At that time its major objective was to respond to challenges in the heritage sector in South Africa. These challenges included the location of the country’s heritage such as art and art objects outside the country, the lack of available skills in this sector, and the failure to use heritage to empower communities. To date (2015), the Foundation has repatriated close to 600 artistic works from across the globe, which forms “The Ifa Lethu Heritage Collection”, and which has travelled the world in exhibitions showing how human endeavour can overcome even the severest struggles of a nation.
While the first decade of our democracy correctly focused on redressing imbalances in the material welfare of citizens, it became clear that the neglect of the RDP of the soul had resulted in fractures in our society as evidenced by levels of crime, anger and violence. Lessons learned in the Foundation’s early years have lead to development programmes, aimed primarily at youth, which develop creative skills, provide business knowledge, and encourage creative entrepreneurship.
During the period 2010 – 2015, these programmes spread to rural areas to upskill crafters to export level and to create business ventures in poverty-stricken areas in KZN, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. To date more than 2400 youth and crafters have benefitted by these development programmes, gone on to start their own business ventures, and/or been employed, particularly in our unique fossil casting programme, by museums and other organisations.
Encouraged by these results, the changed lives and the contributions to the economic developments of individuals, communities and the country, in 2014 Ifa Lethu took its first steps into the investment arena. The networks created by the Foundation during its activities both locally and globally, have raised a keen awareness of the economic opportunities available to investors in South Africa. Our country is a fruit ripe for investment in all sectors. After 20 years of democracy, we are producing business leaders of world-class standard, and have an infrastructure to assist investors. This is new ground for the Foundation and we see real synergy between our development programmes and attracting financial investors.
Governance & Infrastructure
The Board of Directors of Ifa Lethu include prominent South African heavyweights from the education, business, legal, media and cultural sectors and these include Dr Narissa Ramdhani (CEO), Dr Anna Mokgokong (Chair), Raymond Louw (Deputy Chair),Michael Judin,Tom Nevin, Kuseni Dlamini
The Global Advisory Council members include former Australian Prime Minister Mr. Malcolm Fraser, Lord Robin Renwick (UK), Ambassador Princeton Lyman (USA), Baroness Lynda Chalker (UK), Tor Sellstrom (Sweden) and Robert Devereux (UK)
Dame Nicola Brewer (UK), Hugh Masekela (SA), Jack Ginsberg (SA), Baroness Patricia Scotland (UK), Amb. Lindiwe Mabuza (SA).