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DUT’s Mthiyane Is Selected As One of 20 ‘Obama Leaders’ From South Africa

DUT’s Mthiyane Is Selected As One of 20 ‘Obama Leaders’ From South Africa

Making the Durban University of Technology (DUT) proud is alumnus and part – time DUT architecture lecturer Wandile Mthiyane, who has been selected as one of 20 ‘Obama Leaders’ from South Africa, to be part of the prestigious Obama Foundation cohort that will be convening in Johannesburg from 10 to 15 July 2019, for the Obama Leaders: Africa Programme.

The Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Programme supports emerging leaders from across the continent through a one – year leadership development and civic engagement programme. This is the second year of the Obama Foundation’s Leaders: Africa programme. It kicks off with a five – day convention, featuring President Obama and more than 50 speakers from across Africa.

Mthiyane is one of the 20 South Africans selected from 21 000 applications from around the world, a feat he is thoroughly excited about.

“I was ecstatic, I have always admired Obama and Nelson Mandela and I had just gotten rejected by the Nelson Mandela fellowship a week before I got accepted into the Obama Leaders: Africa Programme. Growing up in KwaMashu I did not have a lot of opportunities to grow as a leader and entrepreneur, so to be a part of this programme is a dream come true,” he said. 

When asked what he hopes to achieve from the prestigious programme, he added that he is interested in several opportunities that come with the fellowship that will challenge his world view, expand his knowledge on community development and make him a better person, leader, and entrepreneur.

“This fellowship will also connect me with a cohort of some of the most talented and passionate young world leaders who will be my partners and support group in this daunting task to make this world a better place. I would be delighted to have the opportunity to learn and share my experiences and expertise with such a great cohort of world changers,” he stressed.

Mthiyane is also greatly inspired by the creativity of his community and is determined to improve the safety and quality of life in low – income communities across South Africa. He is also the founder of Ubuntu Design Group, an architectural design and micro-mortgage organisation. Its mission is providing entrepreneurial low – income families within the gap housing market that currently do not qualify for an RDP or a bank mortgage/bond with a lower interest rate than a typical bank.

His future goals also entail him working with his Ubuntu team to partner with local banks and investors in South Africa through his micro-mortgage plan for low – income entrepreneurial Ubuntu screened families. “Our target is to build 50 homes a year and increase that number by 10 homes every year. We are piloting this unique initiative in South Africa and based on the lessons learnt and experience gained, we want to scale our work to other developing countries and then developed countries adapting it to the context, finance and design laws of each area we expand too! Our plan is to end the global housing crisis by 2060 through architectural and financial inclusion,” he said excitedly.

Having grown up in KwaMashu, he feels indebted to make the most of every opportunity to come back and help develop his community. “I’m currently under self – induced pressure to excel because I know millions of kids growing up in the townships would die to have half the opportunities I have and that’s why I’m building them a bridge to come over,” said Mthiyane.

To learn more about Mthiyane’s work, go to

Pictured: Wandile Mthiyane.

Waheeda Peters

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