Lead SA is an independent initiative which mobilises South Africans to make a difference, no matter how small, to the lives around them. By highlighting ‘Heroes of South Africa’, Lead SA empowers ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things in their communities. Hope, give and inspiration are the key words of Lead SA since 2010.
Catherine Constantinides, executive director of Lead SA
SparkTour Africa: Why Lead SA was created?
Says Catherine Constantinides, executive director of Lead SA:
“Lead SA was born out of a need to create a platform to inspire South-Africans. We share with them their responsibility to be active citizens.
How does it work exactly?
“We have several focus areas, and in those focus areas we look at burning issues, things that affect South Africans on a daily basis. For example, we try to create a positive change on things such as stop rape initiative or drug watch campaign. We tend to focus a lot on education and leadership. We have a campaign called the Lead SA heroes, and that is for us an important place where we are able to find ordinary citizens who do extraordinary things. We share their stories in order to motivate other South Africans to understand that they have the ability to do anything that they put their mind to.
‘We have a campaign called the Lead SA heroes [where] we are able to find ordinary citizens who do extraordinary things. We share their stories in order to motivate other South Africans to understand that they have the ability to do anything that they put their mind to.’
What are the main results of Lead SA?
“There are so many big highlights for Lead SA. Many of these are born out of the work we do in communities: visiting schools every week and engage with young children who feel safe enough to share with us what they are concerned about, what challenges they face at home. These moments are pride moments, because they are shared between us and people on the ground, in communities that are not often reached. Sometimes, people come back to us and say: ‘I heard something on the radio that helped me to address issues I have in my life and now I can speak openly about it.’ Our stop rape campaign for example made a huge impact on people around our country, and we will continue to drive these initiative.
Do you have three words to describe the spirit of Lead SA?
“I could give three hundred words, but I have to choose! I would say hope, give, and inspiration. I also have to add ‘brave’, because we speak about issues that other people do not talk about. We talk about corruption and a lot of other things that are critical for South Africans.
‘We speak about issues that other people do not talk about.’
Do you think that media have a big responsibility to make the world a better place?
“Absolutely. The media plays a critical role. The media have a power that they do not even understand. People’s opinions are formed from what they hear on the media. So, the media have a very important role to be responsible and to share both sides of a story, so that individuals around the world are able to form their own opinions.
‘The media have a power that they do not even understand. People’s opinions are formed from what they hear on the media.’
What was the biggest difficulty since the creation of Lead SA?
“I think for people to understand the essence of Lead SA, and the fact that this is not just a free media platform. This is a space that we want people to grow and to understand their own responsibility. It is not for us to partner with corporate and NGOs, but for us to inspire them to go out and do the good that they want to do!
How do you see Lead SA in 10 years?
“I see Lead SA in a 10 year time as being a force and a movement that everyone is inspired by, that people live by the values of Lead SA. This is an initiative that will continue to hit on those pressing issues our society faces as a growing democracy and a very young country. Lead SA will drive these discussions, these debates and make sure that we build a stronger, better and more vibrant society.
You are also involved with the organization Miss Earth South Africa, what is it exactly?
“The Miss Earth South Africa is a leadership programme focusing on inspiring young women to be actively involved in the environmental conservation and sustainability sector. This is a nine months campaign every year where young women will volunteer to be a part of that campaign. They need to intern, not only learn and be educated by programmes. They need to go back in their society and put together sustainable projects that will empower their communities. Women are the core and center of the communities, so we empower and skill these young women to become ambassadors for something that is always get left at the bottom of the pile: environmental issues, climate change and creating sustainable communities.
Today, a lot of young South Africans want to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure to help society, could you give them one advice?
“Be very proud to be a social entrepreneur! It does not matter what you want to do, hold on to that dream and won with it. You will have to climb mountains and hills, but as long as you believe hard enough in what you want to achieve, you will ignite every soul which will come in contact with you.
‘Be very proud to be a social entrepreneur!’
A last word?
“We need to inspire communities by giving them all we have, even if it is just our time. We are able to change and move society into the dream that we have for our continent.