Our Story

In 2007, Siviwe Mbinda founded Happy Feet Youth Project, an NPO for the children of Langa Township.  Happy Feet Youth Project is an after school programme that focuses on dance, music and traditional instruments that empowers children to work hard towards positive goals and keeps them away from negative influences.

 

Several years into successfully running Happy Feet, Mbinda wanted more for his students. While they were thriving in the programme, Mbinda saw that many of the children were not getting the educational foundation that would open opportunities for them in the future. To solve this problem, Happy Feet launched a scholarship program in partnership with Vamos (township tour operator), another social enterprise run by Mbinda. Fifteen Happy Feet dancers were given scholarships to attend exceptional schools around Cape Town. The goal was to provide the opportunity for the students to receive a better education and be exposed to opportunities not readily available to the youth living in Langa.

 

As the Happy Feet Scholarship Programme moved forward, Mbinda was not satisfied with the results he was getting. While the children, their parents, the Happy Feet staff and the host schools were committed to supporting the children in the schools, the students were not performing at the same level as their more advantaged peers. The programme results were not strong. This was worrisome to Mbinda, as he knew that his kids had the potential and the motivation to do more.

 

Happy Feet was now approaching its 10th year in operations with many successes to be proud of, with a growing number of children in the programme and a growing number still in need of its services. Fortuitously, Mbinda was chosen at this time to be a Red Bull Amaphiko Social Entrepreneur, a programme that allowed him the time and resources to reflect on his 10-year accomplishments with Happy Feet and his other social enterprises with an eye toward the future. Mbinda embarked on a process that led him to a new vision based on his experiences, successes, and challenges to support Happy Feet Youth Project’s evolution into the future. Based on the strong success of the past, Happy Feet Youth Project will continue to work with children in the township with iThuba Innovation Hub taking over the educational efforts.

In 2011, Siviwe met Dr. Diane Flannery, current collaborator in iThuba with her travel company Global Buddies. Together they ran many successful global education trips. Siviwe also traveled to Los Angeles to work with Dr. Flannery in local schools. In 2014, Dr. Flannery’s daughter Maya designed a girls STEM program for Happy Feet. The program’s great success gave Siviwe and Dr. Flannery the idea to expand the Happy Feet programme to include education programmes that prepare students for future opportunities. This STEM program developed into the founding of iThuba Innovation Hub to further support STEM education for South African township youth. As the world becomes further and further shaped by technology and engineering, children coming from under-resourced schools are left behind. The skills and opportunity gaps will only widen further if bridges to STEM education are not built. Not only does STEM open opportunities for employment, it also enables whole new sectors of employment to be created. This next generation of South Africans will be prepared to solve today’s challenges for a better tomorrow.

Staff and Board of Directors

SIVIWE MBINDA

 

Siviwe Mbinda, a successful entrepreneur is a founder of the Langa based non-profit Organisation called Happy Feet Youth Project; owner of Siviwe Tours; and co-founder of Vamos Travel. Siviwe is a 2016-2017 Red Bull Amaphiko Social Entrepreneur.  Siviwe’s newest venture is as co-founder and director of iThuba Innovation Hub located in Langa. iThuba’s mission is to create and engage the community in future technologies, innovative problem solving and introduce STEM programs to the young people of the community through educational opportunities and experiences.

DR. DIANE FLANNERY

 

Dr. Flannery holds a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and an MA in Creativity Development. She is former co-director of UCLA’s Global Center for Children & Families. She teaches in the College of Business and Economics at California State University. She has over 25 years of leadership in education and social innovation, designing programs and enterprises both domestically and internationally with over thirteen years of work with programmes in Cape Town, South Africa.

DR. AMY GRIFFITHS

 

Director of Research and Curriculum

 

Dr. Amy-Jane Griffiths holds a PhD in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a licensed psychologist and a nationally certified school psychologist.

Dr. Griffiths is an Assistant Professor in the Attalah College of Educational Studies at Chapman University and a Research Affiliate of the Thompson Policy Institute. Her expertise and experiences center around systems change, supporting youth and families from underserved communities, STEM education evaluation, and collaborative approaches to academic and mental health intervention.

She grew up in South Africa and is dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for South African youth.

SHADRACK SHOOTER DANO

 

Design and Engineering Teacher

 

Shooter was born in the Eastern Cape in a small town called Cradock where he passed his matric. He has worked in Edgars Shop, as a police officer in Gugulethu for many years and for the Blood Bank. He has lived in Langa since 1996. Shadrack is a master craftsman and can build just about anything. He currently teaches building, design and engineering classes for iThuba.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

IAN CALVERT

 

Ian is the Global Project Leader of Red Bull Amaphiko, an international programme aimed at giving wings to social entrepreneurs who are using their talents and creativity to make a difference in their communities, and inspiring a broader audience to do the same.

Ian has 28 years of business leadership, brand strategy, communications and research experience, both locally and internationally.

He joined Ogilvy & Mather London as a graduate in 1986, responsible for clients such as Ford, Guinness and Unilever. He moved to Ogilvy in Cape Town in 1990, becoming the youngest ever Board Director at the age of 29, responsible for the SAAB, Audi and Syfrets accounts. In 1996, he left O&M to start a new agency, Bull Calvert Pace, in conjunction with the Lowe Group, one of the world’s leading advertising agency groups. In 2000, the agency took over the Lintas agency in Johannesburg. In the same year, it won the Financial Mail award for Small Agency of the Year, and by 2001 became the top ranking South African creative agency at the Loerie and Cannes awards. In 2002, Ian was appointed to the Board of the Association of Communications Agencies of South Africa.

At the end of 2002, he left the agency to start Instant Grass, South Africa’s first specialist youth insight agency. At the 2004 AdFocus awards, SA’s premier marketing awards, Instant Grass won the award for both Newcomer of the Year, and also overall Marketing Agency of the Year. Ian drove the expansion of Instant Grass into Russia, Japan, Middle East and other African markets. It is now recognised as a global authority on youth in emerging markets. Ian has a passion for youth development and has a deep understanding of the dynamics and social context of township youth in South Africa. He is a regular speaker at Leadership conferences, and is a mentor to a number of youth-focused social enterprises.

ADHIL PATEL

 

Adhil has 20 years experience in brand & shopper research, and supports the Kantar TNS brand & shopper offer globally

During the course of his career, he’s headed up the brand equity Research & Development unit as well as the Training and Knowledge Management functions. Adhil has consulted on studies for some of the world’s leading and most valuable brands across a wide range of sectors and product categories. He has authored numerous papers and spoken at conferences including ESOMAR Congress, ESOMAR 3D, IIEX and the South African Market Research Association (SAMRA) Convention on various topics, ranging from storytelling to tracker renovation to image recognition. He won the WPP Atticus Award 2010 for his contribution to ‘Research in Practice’ and Best Paper at the SAMRA Convention 2016. Adhil is a graduate of the University of Cape Town, where he majored in Statistics and Economics, with a minor in Mathematics, and currently resides in beautiful Cape Town with his wife and their plucky bull terrier.

FADLI WAGIET

 

Fadli is an expert and specialist in leadership and management of the South African school system. His skills range from curriculum development, school improvement, teacher development and new approaches to education. Fadli studied at the University of the Western Cape in the field of Zoology and at Rhodes University in Environmental Education. The topic of his research at Rhodes University is “In Search of Quality Education for All: The Potential Role of a District Office". Fadli taught for twenty years as a Biology teacher for grades 10 to 12. During this period, he held various management and leadership posts including Head of Department, Senior Head of Department, Deputy Principal and acting Principal. In 1998 he joined the Western Cape Education Department as a Biology/Life Sciences Curriculum Advisor to improve teaching and learning. He then was promoted to General Education and Training Coordinator working with 22 Curriculum advisors supporting the primary schools from grade R to 9. Fadli lectures part-time at Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape. At Stellenbosch University he lectured in Environmental Education, whereas at the University of the Western Cape in Zoology, Method of Biology and the Environmental Crisis and Integrated Water Resource Management. Internationally, Fadli has worked with the University of Wisconsin Madison and Stevens Point campuses.

GCOBISA MNGANGWA

 

Gcobisa holds a B.Sc. in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Post Graduate Certificate in Education and Mathematics specialization certificates for both senior and FET phase. She was born, bred, and buttered in Langa and is now a teacher, passionate about teaching mathematics, life sciences, life orientation, natural sciences, and physical sciences. Gcobisa connects with others easily, and she strives to help make a positive change in South African education. She has worked with Numeric, a private NGO that assists disadvantaged schools in South Africans with maths instruction. She also has teaching experience at more than seven schools. Gcobisa is excited to teach with iThuba because she is passionate about getting children eager to learn about science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM). She uses her own experience of growing up in the Township to connect with the children she teaches. She believes that given the proper opportunities, every child is infinitely gifted, and she has helped students and peers recognize their unique talents throughout her career.

MINAH RADEBE

 

Minah has more than 20 years’ experience as a qualitative market research field worker. She is trained as a ZMET moderator, utilizing metaphor and laddering research technique, and has worked on various social-behavioral, brand positioning and segmentation projects in South Africa and beyond. Her recent client base has included universities and NGOs such as the University of Johannesburg, University of Cape Town, Swansea University in UK, University of Maryland in USA, Research ICT Africa, and Desmond Tutu HIV Centre. A member of SAMRA (South African Marketing Research Association), MInah continues to work in market research projects with Nielsen Research, TNS Kantar Research, Ask Afrika, Africa Research Marketing, Freedthinkers, Youth Dynamix, Evolve Research, and Sorbert Shark, among others.

Minah also has a long history of involvement in community work. She served as the secretary for the Langa Development Forum from 2007-2009, and she is currently involved in a research study regarding HIV prevention among adolescent youth aged 14-24 in Kwazulu Natal. A strong advocate for education, Minah has always promoted education as a tool of empowerment for young people. Minah is also a wife and mother of three.

Partnerships

UTU SOCIAL VENTURES

 

RED BULL AMAPHIKO ACADEMY

2016-2017

 

TRAVEL NOIRE

 

 POLYTECHNIC HIGH SCHOOL

 Women’s Service League

Lily Maechling and Taylor Stimmler

Pasadena, California

 

ERIC HALL

Folsom, CA

 

 VAMOS TOWNSHIP TOURS

 

 CAPE TOWN SCIENCE CENTRE

 

 ORT SA CAPE

Robotics

 

 MOSHESH PRIMARY SCHOOL

Langa

 

WESTERN CAPE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 

 CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY

Ukomelela Project

Orange, California

 

SIVIWE TOURS

 

HAPPY FEET YOUTH PROJECT