FunDza believes that the ability to read and write transforms lives. South Africa is a book-poor and reading-poor country – we exist to change that. To do this we provide teens and young adults with access to high-interest exciting reading content that speaks to their lives, and by inspiring young people to harness their creative talents and become the authors of their own stories. We also believe in staff development as a means of creating enabling opportunities for our employees to thrive.

Thus, when we were informed about the DG Murray Trust’s fellowship on organisational innovation, we knew that this would be an opportunity our staff members would benefit greatly from. The fellowship has been created to assist organisations on their journeys of innovation and agility – very opportune for such a time as this. We identified two candidates for this fellowship for the roles they each play in the organisation and how we forsee them working closely together going forward: our Office Manager and M&E Support, Alonzo Naude and Head of Marketing & Public Relations, Zilungile Zimela.

Here is Zilungile’s feedback on her participation in the programme:

What have been some of the highlights of the fellowship, and what have you learned?
– It has been amazing to meet phenomenal young professionals from across the country who are passionate about literacy and the urgency of resources within our varying communities.
– I have had to unlearn and relearn assumptions and assertions in the context of organisational innovation.
– Receiving ontological coaching from Tshepo Modise- Harvey has allowed me to better align my personal and professional life by relooking how I ask questions and raise concerns.
How has it been moving from face-to-face to the virtual in this lockdown period?
Doing the fellowship virtually was strenuous I must admit, there were times where the workload and the amount of time that was needed was a lot, but I am proud of myself for having persevered till the very end. The fellowship team was on the ball from the onset and even though it was hard for us as fellows, the fellowship meetings and peer support group sessions were always exciting. We even composed our fellowship song, a music video and played 30 seconds virtually.

Here are Alonzo’s responses:

What were some of the highlights for you?
I enjoyed the fact that it forced me to think outside of my job. I am being introduced to spaces that I’ve never been in and have to innovate, for example, we wrote a song and it’s a hit, and we are busy preparing a cookbook. The way we had to introduce ourselves was by making a crown and adding pictures and words that will give people a little insight into the things we enjoy doing.
What are some of the things you’ve learned? 
There are so many things to choose from but one thing that really resonates with me is “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good”. Sometimes I want things to be so perfect that I don’t put anything out there that can be tried and used. Another valuable tool was the gift of feedback: instead of getting defensive and blocking the feedback out, I should use it as an opportunity to grow and appreciate the fact that someone is interested enough to give me feedback.
How has it been moving from face-to-face to the virtual in this lockdown period?
For me face-to-face worked so much better. I was present, I was in a different environment and I missed being around other people that are on this journey with me. The problem with virtual is: It never starts on time, we are always waiting on someone to connect, sometimes we have signal issues and we are unable to hear clearly. Another issue was that it took up more time because we had to balance the fellowship and work. There are benefits to doing it virtually like being in the comfort of your home and it is really cost-effective, but I missed the experience that comes with doing things face-to-face.


The immersion thus far has provided the fellows with access to a support structure of other young professionals from across South Africa working in different streams of the literacy sector. This network has opened room for collaboration and partnership. The fellows also receive coaching from formidable professionals assigned by the DG Murray Trust. We wish them all the best on the rest of their journey.