Rayelene Govender has recently joined the FunDza board of trustees. She brings not only a passion for education but also one for corporate governance and ethics to the team. These skills are particularly vital to us as a nonprofit organisation that values ethical action and decision-making, and fair and transparent working relationships with supporters and beneficiary partners. Rayelene will be applying her expertise to the organisation to ensure that we are a strong, sound and sustainable organisation now and in the future.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I am South African who loves spending time outside in nature with family and friends. As a family we left South Africa in 2012, leaving my corporate career to take on responsibilities of being a full-time mum and support to a young family. During my time away from South Africa, I decided to expand my skills set and pursue studies in subject matter I have always been interested in but never had the opportunity to follow. I chose to complete courses in Political Science and a Master’s degree in International Comparative Education, from Stockholm University. Armed with both a commerce and social science background, I focused my time on projects that contributed to strengthening development/non-profit organisations. Particularly focusing on aligning organisational strategy to governance and results. I have spent 12 years in the private sector in senior governance roles and now since being back in South Africa, I am happy to transfer my learnings to the development and non-profit sector.

Tell us about your work and what makes you passionate about it?
My professional work experience covers areas of Risk Management, Corporate Governance, Internal Audit, Quality Reviews, Monitoring & Evaluation, Organizational strengthening & Improvement, Project Management, Training/Facilitation and Education. I believe that there is tremendous skill and will in South Africa to do the right thing however accountability and governance mechanisms require constant oversight and strengthening. A real and authentic approach is required if development and non-profits organisations are to constantly achieve the goals they set out for themselves. I am passionate about this work because it has the ability to empower vulnerable people and shift our society for the better.

Your work focuses on corporate governance, why do you think that that is important in the non-profit environment?
Oversight and accountability mechanisms need to be in place to ensure that there is zero waste and that all organisational resources are used to further the mission and benefit the targeted vulnerable members in society. ‘Other peoples’ money is given to alleviate or correct an inequality in society, the people who give, put their trust into development and non-profit organisations to do the right things. A social contract is entered into and our job is to ensure that, that contract is honoured, evidencing a positive change to the lives of beneficiaries.

What did you want to do when you were little and why?
I wanted to work in government and help people.

Why FunDza – what excites or interests you most about our work?
I am passionate about all things education. I believe that FunDza truly has a unique offering and ability to reach and transform the minds of young people with regards to literacy and writing in South Africa. I want to use my skills and competencies to strengthen FunDza’s governance structures so that their mission is realised.

What is one of your favourite books and why?
Americanah, by Chimamanda Adichie.

I related a lot to this book as I read it whilst living away from South Africa. The book highlighted the challenges and struggles of building a new identity away from home and exposed to me how sometimes, all we need to do, is just see each other as human beings without attaching a lot of identity. Attaching too much identity to a person can force us to put people into boxes, limiting our perspectives and causing us to miss out on seeing people for who they truly are.

What have you missed most in lockdown?
I have missed get-togethers with my extended family and the ability to talk and meet people randomly, basically – freedom of movement.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
As a child, I was always encouraged to speak my mind and stand up for myself, I carried this with me throughout my adult years, I realised that we are all products of the structures and contexts we find ourselves in, some of us are fortunate to find ourselves surrounded by people who want the best for us, others are not so fortunate. Every human being deserves the right to be their best and it is the responsibility of all of us in society to correct the inequalities that prevent our fellow human beings from being their best.


Thank you, Rayelene, for joining the FunDza board. We are delighted to have your expertise and wisdom.