Dear colleagues, partners and friends,

I’ve received a flood of emails since sending out my last email in January. Some writers offered words of encouragement; others posed questions. I have been unable to respond to each email due to a frenetic global induction schedule coupled with my regular work, but please be assured that I have read every one.

Please do keep writing; I am listening and will respond to you collectively or individually whenever I can. If I am unable to respond to you personally, a member of the OSF-SA team will be in touch if yours is an email that requires an urgent action.

Several of the emails have been in response to the message in my previous email about the review of our organisational and grant-making strategies. Please note that all OSF bodies are going through the same process.

My team and I are aware of being both relevant to the current issues faced by South Africans today, and of our need to be sustainable well into the future. We anticipate that the strategy review process will last a few months. Once this process is complete, we will communicate with stakeholders and grantees equally. We anticipate that we should be able to do so by the end of September.

Currently, everything in South Africa and globally is urgent and important. The interconnectedness of our world is acutely felt as we watch coronavirus make its way across the globe. The South African government has just confirmed the first Covid-19 case inside our country’s borders, and naturally, we have much cause for concern.

South Africa has many problems, and OSF-SA’s resources are not limitless. Since we can’t solve all our country’s problems, we have to be very strategic in terms of what we do fund. The next decade of OSF-SA should see us focus on burning issues, to invest and intervene in those solutions that will give us effective impact.

In some instances, this means that we’ll partner with other foundations and philanthropic organisations in order to make a difference or bring about positive and lasting change. Ultimately, I envisage that our collaboration with partners and grantees will extend beyond just the provision of funds or grant-making, but that together, we will co-design solutions to strengthen our democracy and to ensure that South Africa is resilient and sustainable.

As many challenges as we face, I remain hopeful that collectively, we can tackle these issues with innovation and creativity. In this, I am inspired by the words of Mama Graça Machel at the recent #AfricaNoFilter 2020 Summit in Johannesburg last week: “You can’t progress in Africa without touching someone else. Human relationships are defined by the way we Africans relate to each other.”

Now, more than ever, I have faith in our ability as South Africans and Africans to find solutions whenever we unite behind a common goal. In this vein, I am pleased to announce that Milly Pekeur-Potgieter, who so ably held the position of Acting Executive Director after the term of the previous ED ended and prior to my assuming the role, has accepted the position of Head of Programmes. Milly and I have worked well together ever since I came on board and I look forward to working with her in her new role going forward.

Over the past week, we at OSF-SA have been very fortunate to host some of our global and regional colleagues. OSF President, Patrick Gaspard, and Regional Director of OSF’s Africa Regional Office, Muthoni Wanyeki, and members of their teams were in the country to participate in the #AfricaNoFilter summit. This visit culminated in an event held on 28 February at which I was pleased to see so many new and familiar faces. I’m looking forward to further opportunities to meet in the coming year.

Best wishes,
Bulelwa