There are some people you meet in life that really embody the idea of being a Changemaker and who genuinely understand the power of giving and positively touching the lives of others. Penny Mpanza is just that person, an inspirational social entrepreneur who passionately believes that real and lasting change will be driven by a new generation of young people who are well educated and have the tools to find the solutions to the challenges facing Africa today.
LoA had the pleasure of spending some time with the inspirational Penny Mpanza this month and talking the power of education in empowering a new generation of young people in South Africa who will become tomorrow’s leaders and entrepreneurs.
What does your social enterprise do?
Let’s Build Our Country Fund NPC (LBOC Fund) is an innovative Non-Profit Company aimed at addressing the issue of inequality in South Africa by creating 1000 educational and career opportunities for South African youth every year. The fund is underpinned by a cutting edge Holistic Learner Development Programme that focuses on academic excellence, as well as critical care areas outside of the class room. These care areas include student accommodation, food and toiletry hampers, leadership training, life skills orientation, tuition, mentorship and a 24 hour student support line. We are confident that our emphasis on Holistic Learner Development will ensure that our youth are primed in an environment geared for excellence, thereby equipping our young leaders with the skills and expertise needed to become more engaged citizens who foster change in their communities and our country.
"The Let’s Build Our Country Fund (LBOC) is about giving and positively touching the lives of young people who have no hope for the future. "
"For me the LBOC Fund represents the fundamental values I learned from my parents to love and give without expecting anything back, but do it because you care about the next person."
What inspired you to start your company?
My inspiration comes from loving our young people. I was once a young person who found herself at the end of the road after finishing matric many years ago. But someone saw a potential in me and gave me an opportunity to get an education. Since that time I have always been going an extra mile in my life to assist where I can in every opportunity that will avail itself to assist someone else. The fact is that I have been down that road and I know how it feels to have nothing, but experiencing what it is like when somebody decides to believe in you. My kids have been the biggest inspiration as well. They created opportunities for me to positively reach out and touch the lives of other young people by exposing me to them and their struggles in life. They alerted me to their need to find a place where they can be looked after in order to feel grounded and be able to go to school and finish their education without worrying about having enough bread to eat or something going wrong back home. With those opportunities, the passion for helping these young people grew so much within me and reminded me of that young girl I once was, standing in that factory packing boxes after matric. I remembered how it felt and still feels today to be given an opportunity of a lifetime. And one day, when I came to a personal cross road after the greatest tragedy in my life, the heavens opened and my passion for helping young people flooded my life even more. I knew there and then that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, changing young people’s lives through education. And here we are today - the vehicle for change called the Let’s Build Our Country Fund (LBOC) was born and I am living the purpose of my life, and loving it everyday...
Why should anyone support your organisation?
The Let’s Build Our Country Fund (LBOC) is not about buying, but its about giving and positively touching the lives of young people who have no hope for the future. Its about a community of people who cares about the future of this planet and the people who will run it. Its about standing up and saying I want to be counted. I want to leave a legacy that will be carried from one generation to the next. If you are that person, come on board, let us be the doers and not just the talkers because tangible change is needed more than it has ever been at this juncture.
"We are confident that our emphasis on Holistic Learner Development will ensure that our youth are primed in an environment geared for excellence thereby equipping our young leaders with the skills and expertise needed to become more engaged citizens who foster change in their communities and our country."
Tell us a little about your team
My team is made up of different professionals from different industries. I have doctors, lawyers, financial consultants, entrepreneurs, graduates, volunteers and a community of people who believe in Change!!
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I am a daughter of a Maid and a Driver, both of whom had no entrepreneurial skills whatsoever, or that much of an education. But these two amazing people had a dream for us, as their children, to be better people then they were in terms of education. They gave up so much from the little income they had, allowing us to finish high school which was the furthest they could take us. But God had different plans for our lives and opened doors of opportunities for us to become game changers for this generation. For me the LBOC Fund represent the fundamental values I learned from my parents to love and give without expecting anything back in return, but to do it because you care about the next person.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your organisation?
We have 135 students at University this year and the plan is to fund at least 1000 students each year and create just the same employment and entrepreneur opportunities for them. We also need more funding to achieve this and we looking forward to receive more support from different like minded entities, corporates, and ordinary people who believe that Education is the greatest weapon to eradicate poverty in our Continent.
"My inspiration comes from loving our young people. I was once a young person who found herself at the end of the road after finishing matric many years ago. But someone saw a potential in me and gave me an opportunity to get an education."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
My satisfaction comes from seeing a smile on a student’s face and her/his parents appreciating the opportunity that we are giving to them to reach for the STARS that they themselves as parents were not able to give to them.
"Education is the greatest weapon to eradicate poverty on our Continent."
- Penny Mpanza, founder of Let’s Build Our Country Fund @lbocfund
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to become social entrepreneurs or to startup their own businesses?
We all come to this world with a PURPOSE for our lives; look within yourself first of all and then look around you; you will find what it is that you were brought into this world to do. Then, pursue it with every fibre of your BEING! Being is the most satisfaction one can ever ask for!!!
Find out more about Penny or follow the LOBC Fund
Why LoA loves it….
Penny Mpanza’s legacy through her wonderful organisation Let's Build Our Country Fund NPC, will bring hope to so many young people in South Africa who have the raw potential but need academic opportunities and real support to turn it into a reality. Her vision for her organisation is genuinely life changing for the young people who will benefit from it’s support. She is a truly inspirational human being and is harnessing her passion for making a difference, combined with a lifetime of caring for young people, to empower a new generation of future young leaders in the country. She is a real Changemaker! --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa