Making democracy last

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South Africa’s history has left us the most unequal society on earth.

And the sad truth is that countries with huge gaps between rich and poor don’t often become stable Democracies.

Why not?

Because Democracy requires an educated electorate with skin in the game. By which I mean: voters with the tools to hold politicians to account, and more to gain from supporting stability than demolishing the system and starting again.

The challenges of writing centuries of legislated inequality can’t be left to the government alone. South Africa can only flourish when individuals who have resources start sharing what they have.

It sounds simple, no? Well, it can be – if you choose the right mechanism for sharing.

Founding Kay Mason Foundation

When I founded the Kay Mason Foundation in 1999, I had the idea of giving away 10% of what I have.

That’s roughly what all the world’s major faiths recommend, and there’s wisdom in that figure. Ten percent of what we have is something significant, but it won’t bankrupt us.

And the 10 % doesn’t just cover money – it includes a share of who we are. Our ideas, our energies, our time.

I decided to invest in widening access to first rate education.

We need the entrepreneurs whose companies will eradicate unemployment. We need doctors and nurses in our hospitals, teachers in our schools, lawyers in our legal system, scientists in our laboratories.

Over the last 22 years, thousands of people have joined me – and tasted the joy that comes from helping a young person succeed.

South Africa’s problems are complex, but their solutions aren’t. What’s needed is kindness, generosity, passion, and accountability. In large doses!

By linking individuals with time, talent and money with young people of great potential, the KMF allows those born at the bottom of society’s ladder to climb right to the top.

Dealing with the challenges of COVID

Our holistic assessment tools allow us to spot gifted kids who, through no fault of their own, haven’t had the educational opportunities of their more privileged peers.

That doesn’t mean they can’t succeed. It means they need a helping hand, a lot of academic and practical support, and most crucially of all … the knowledge that someone believes in them.

When COVID struck, the parents of many of our scholars lost their jobs.

Some were abruptly unable to pay the rent or put food on their tables. Suddenly we had to provide laptops, data, and in many cases nutritional support. We did that, and the scholars we support continued to thrive – in this most challenging of years. The number of Distinctions our matriculants achieved in 2020 is staggering.

KMF graduates, whom we met when they were just 12 years old, are now working as doctors on the COVID frontlines, teaching in schools, founding businesses, paying taxes, and making a difference.

They’re invested in our society and committed to broadening the opportunities that should be available to all.

Thanks to the KMF, hundreds of formerly-disadvantaged people are right now helping to make South Africa a stable Democracy – but there are millions who need this opportunity.

And our nation needs them.