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The Nelson Mandela 7th Annual Lecture took place at the City Hall in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the 11 July 2009. This had to have been one of the most significant events on the calendar for the year. To give you an idea of significance of this event, guest speakers at this event over the years include the likes of the ex US President Bill Clinton, Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu and ex UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to name a few. Having a guest speaker of the status of Nobel Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus and being graced by the presence of Nelson Mandela himself was something to behold. Nelson Mandela has significantly reduced the number of public appearances he makes and is sure to reduce this even more as the years pass by.

Professor Yunus also gave a stellar performance in conveying his message. He won the Nobel Prize for the internationally acclaimed Grameen Bank initiative which has been blogged about several times on SDN. I was gob smacked at the high level of abstraction he applied when dealing with challenges that may seem insurmountable. He also emphasized sustainable social businesses and how they could aid in eliminating social injustices. I couldn’t help thinking that we are in the presence of greatness and that I may never see people of this stature together on the same platform in my lifetime.

Also attending this phenomenal event was a string of influential politicians in the South African context and from outside South Africa.

Then, the cherry on top, was the team of volunteers from SAP South Africa that assisted to ensure that the event went off smoothly.

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    Trevor, I am so delighted to see you here and to know that you are engaged in and inspired by this kind of work.  I found a link to the website and the actual contents of the talk here

    Perhaps you would expand on your personal take-aways and learnings.  Help us understand if there is a “call to action” from our side and what we can do to engage more actively.

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    1. Trevor Naidoo Post author
      Thanks for the great feedback & the link to the speech Marilyn. There will be a follow up blog with my learnings & a call to action. For now, points that the Professor raised that really resonated with me is how easy it is (without over analysing) for a person (any person) to effect change & I loved his practice of social businesses. Suffice to say, the Professor blew my proverbial socks off with the lecture he delivered!
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  2. Heino Kantimm
    Hi Trevor,
    congratulations for having the opportunity to attend an event with such influencial people. I am a little envy I have to admit 🙂
    I believe that a social business as Prof. Yunus and Grameen are defining it, is the gold standard for sustainable socio-economic development. We currently see a shift from pure philantropy ( which is neither sustainable for the donor nor for the receipient), towards philantropy with a clear link to a doner’s business and a long term pay back expectation. The support for micro financing and the Shea project in Ghana are examples for that. However, ideally one could design and sell products and services, which have an immediate value for the poor AND provide sufficent pay back for the ones who are offering these products and services. Inspired by the idea of a social business we are thinking how this could apply to SAP. Any ideas are welcome.

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    1. Trevor Naidoo Post author
      Thanks for the comment Heino, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m anti philanthropic efforts (in the context of social challenges) because it’s like putting a band-aid on a huge gaping wound & hoping it heals. Solutions have to be sustainable & appeal to both sides. ‘Social Businesses’ would also get more buy-in from the capitalistic business sector. The knock-on effect of this would be phenomenal. My thinking cap is on regarding SAP and Social Business 🙂
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