Tsitsi Masiyiwa —one of Africa’s leading philanthropists and Executive Chairperson of the Higher Life Foundation—recently delivered an inspiring keynote speech at the world’s first Results-Based Accountability (RBA) Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa. From October 8th-10th, international RBA experts gathered to introduce non-profit and government leaders to RBA concepts that are helping individuals, families, and communities create measureable improvements across the globe.
On day three, Tsitsi concluded the event with an inspiring “Call to Action,” in which she recounted her—and husband Strive Masiyiwa’s—rise from penniless parents to one of the richest and most charitable couples in all of Africa. But Masiyiwa never let this success become the focus of her keynote—as she began with a request for the audience to give themselves a standing ovation, a thank you to the co-hosts, and a humble reminder that it is teamwork that makes her charitable work possible.
Not only did Masiyiwa stress the dire situation of Africa’s poorest children and adults throughout her speech, but she also managed to stimulate and encourage a sense of empowerment in the crowd. Despite the fact that there are 1.3 billion people in the world currently living in extreme poverty (637,000,000 sub-Saharan Africans alone) and 57 million African children out of school, Masiyiwa pointed out that there is reason to be optimistic. According to an Economist report shared by Masiyiwa, secondary school enrollment in Africa, GDP, average income per person, and life expectancy have all grown considerably in the past decade, whereas cases of malaria and infant mortality have declined.
As in the cases above, Masiyiwa argued that “curves can be turned” in the case of extreme poverty, and that by taking a results-based approach, “it is conceivable that we as individuals, entities, communities, and nations can alter the order of life as we know it today.” Extending this responsibility to the African government, Masiyiwa asserted that “politicians who want to be elected need to show results.”
Masiyiwa challenged summit participants to take advantage of their unique opportunity “to build an evidence base of scalable solutions that work and will transform our lives forever.” With the power of RBA and breakthroughs in technology, she argued, “it is conceivable that every child has the right to learn and will attend school, that no child will die from preventable diseases, and no child will suffer from absolute poverty.” Masiyiwa then shared her “four simple takeaways” from the event, emphasizing the need for personal commitment, the right of each audience member to express their ideals, and an encouragement to nurture the bonds formed during the summit.
Drawing from lessons learned and leaving the audience visibly energized, Masiyiwa summed up the summit best when she said: “RBA is an opportunity for us to invest, collectively, quality time to reflect on the impact we are making in building better communities.” To listen to Tsitsi’s full speech, you can watch the video below, or watch it on the official summit website. For those who missed the event or are interested in learning more about RBA, videos of conference presentations will be added to the website over the coming weeks.
To learn more about Tsitsi and Strive Masiyiwa’s charitable work, this Forbes article is a great read.