In 2008, the legendary Dr. Mamphela Ramphele was welcomed on board. Doctor, political activist, educator and business woman. Her relationship with the Trust started many years before when, during her years of exile, it supported her in setting up Ithuseng, a pioneering community association. Looking back, she reflects: “At that time, support from the South African business community for non governmental organisations connected to people seen to be politically dangerous by the state was not a common feature.” The Trust’s support then gave credibility to a fledgling organisation and, she believes, continues to present an example of how the private sector can remain engaged with society. “It is about investing in sustainable development , and this is essential to move society forward. Key to this is support for human and intellectual development, it is really an investment that can never go wrong.” She asserts that investment in people delivers tangible results and hopes that the Trust will forever play the role of doing what others will not, focusing on specific, niche areas, interrogating what others are doing to avoid duplication, and above all promoting the notion of equity and excellence. She is adamant that “Unless we enhance the quality of maths and science teaching in schools, nothing will change. We have to become excellent in all we do and aspire to do.” Her experiences living and working in rural and poor communities inform her view, when she comments that thought might be given to developing incentives to encourage rural health practitioners or teachers to remain, and to remain positive, in relatively neglected or isolated areas. “For example, one could enable them to take sabbaticals and explore a wider perspective, it would always be about growth and developing new skills.”

She considers that perceptions of the Trust are positive. “The Oppenheimers have a good name in business and for investing in socially relevant causes. This Trust is the flagship of the kind of innovative investments they have made. If one thinks of the brand that is the Oppenheimer name, and their legacy, this is the best. The issue is how to remain relevant to changes in South Africa, and make a difference to our country.”