J L Zwane: Corporate Social Responsibility meets Social Entrepreneur

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It was October 2007 and more than 13 years had elapsed since South Africa's first non-racial, democratic elections. Social entrepreneur Reverend Spiwo Xapile sat in his immaculate office at the J L Zwane centre, located on the corner of NY2 and NY7 in Gugulethu. He reflected with pride on what he had built up over the past 17 years. His congregation had grown from a handful of people to over 2000 members, and the centre attached to the church ran a number of programmes which benefited the Gugulethu community at large.

While much of the funding for the running of the centre and the church came from Christians elsewhere in the world, particularly the USA, local businesses had also donated large amounts of money to build the centre in the early 2000s. In addition, a very important relationship established early on with Stellenbosch University had been vital to the success of the centre. Yet Xapile believed that business and previously disadvantaged communities were still not speaking the same language as each other, nor were they understanding one another properly.

He pondered a number of important questions: how to create the right environment for meaningful dialogue to take place between business and communities, how to develop the skills within his own community that would ensure the sustainability of the centre, as well as the question of succession and grooming a new leader to take over from him when the time arose.

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