Commission Work

A leading expert institution in navigating the transition towards social justice and change in complex futures in Africa

As a research and learning institute with a deep understanding of sustainability, we do values-aligned consulting work for clients in various sectors. Our network of alumni researchers and advisory associates stretches across sectors and disciplines to bring a diverse and experienced skillset to each project. We provide research and consulting contract work to development institutions, multinational organisations, government institutions and private companies in various fields.

Finding solutions to complex issues within the sphere of sustainability cannot be done by taking a singular worldview. Faced with the reality that consensus does not always exist amongst experts, the Institute takes a process driven, context-based, multi-disciplinary approach to research and consulting.  We emphasise driving processes that are inclusionary, participatory and ethically bound. By doing this we acknowledge that answers must consider the complexities and interconnected nature of environmental, organisational and social systems – therefore understanding nested dependencies. We also place value on understanding the unintended consequences of approaches, decisions and practices.

 

Our expertise range across the following sustainability-related areas:

  • Sustainable Food Systems 
  • Renewable Energy Transitions 
  • Biodiversity
  • Corporate Governance and Sustainability 
  • Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation 
  • Cities and Infrastructure 
  • Alternative Economics 
  • Sustainable Living
  • Transformative Learning 

 

Services available:

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Mulweli Nethengwe

Programme Coordinator: Research & Advisory

mulweli@sustainabilityinstitute.net

The Team

Programme Coordinator: Research & Advisory

Mulweli Nethengwe

Research Associate: Leadership Expert

Rachel Nyaradzo Adams

Research Associate: Design Thinking Facilitator

Dr. Keneilwe Munyai

Research Associate: Food Systems Expert

Prof Scott Drimie

Research Associate: Communications and Food Systems Expert

Stefanie Swanepoel

Research Associate: Career Development Expert in Higher Education

Anne Havemann-Serfontein

Research Associate: Food systems, green skills and environment

Nicola Jenkin

Research Associate: Sustainable communities and organisations

Palesa Mokomele

Research Advisory Associate

Chimene Chetty

Programme Coordinator: Research & Advisory

Mulweli Nethengwe

Mulweli joined the team in 2019. She oversees the Research & Advisory portfolio of the SI.
She holds a BSc in Environmental and Water Sciences and a PGD in Integrated Water Resources Management. Her experience includes being part of projects focused on water quality and quantity, climate change (facilitating dialogues), stakeholder engagement,  environmental and water education for civil society and schools, project management and logistics.
Mulweli is an outdoor person and loves travelling, exploring beautiful natural geological formations and different types of ecosystems. This passion inspired her to go into the water and the environmental sector as a way of contributing to conserving our beautiful environment and ecosystems.

Research Associate: Leadership Expert

Rachel Nyaradzo Adams

Rachel Nyaradzo Adams is a leadership specialist who works with others to find their path of authentic power and courageous self and people leadership. She believes that this journey begins with the pursuit of deepened self-awareness. In her own life, Rachel has travelled the path she now walks with others through her consultancy. As such, she brings a vulnerability and connectedness to her interventions, creating a safe space for the people she works with.

Rachel is an ontological coach, a neuroscience coach and an MBTI certified practitioner. She is a graduate of the University of Oxford (Msc In African Studies) and the University of Cape Town where she majored in Social Anthropology, Media and Writing. She has been awarded various leadership and academic awards including the Mandela Rhodes Fellowship, The Desmond Tutu Fellowship, the Mellon Mays Service and Leadership Award, the Mellon Mays Scholarship and the Felix Scholarship. She has addressed and worked with leaders on various critical platforms including the United Nations, the World Bank, Obama Leaders, L’Oreal Women in Science, EVE and TEDx amongst others.

Research Associate: Design Thinking Facilitator

Dr. Keneilwe Munyai

Dr Keneilwe Munyai is a Programme Manager at the Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking at the University of Cape Town (d-school). Her work at the d-school involves designing and running programmes in design thinking’s human-centred approach to innovation for university students and professionals in the public, private and development sectors.

She also spearheaded the coach training programme to building local design thinking coaching capacity, piloted an Advanced Programme in Design Thinking for postgraduate students, and introduced initiatives like the d-school’s Design Thinking Week to provide greater access to training in design thinking for students throughout South Africa. Her area of specialisation is Design for Sustainability. As a design thinking educator, Keneilwe’s interest is in finding sustainable strategies to developmental challenges in South Africa and the African continent; using design to facilitate change in many aspects of society, the economy and the environment. Her focus areas include the role of indigenous knowledge systems in finding sustainable solutions in majority world economy contexts, and the utilisation of collective efficiencies and creative thinking processes to develop sustainable solutions in the manufacturing sector, service systems and products.

Keneilwe has worked as a design educator and a researcher at the University of Johannesburg, and as a consultant, designer and a product developer in the corporate sector. Her education includes a doctoral degree in Design and a Mtech in Design from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. As part of her academic research she has spent time in Italy and Botswana researching small-scale sustainable practices in small-scale sustainable manufacturing systems in the leather industry to find possible best practices for South Africa.

Research Associate: Food Systems Expert

Prof Scott Drimie

Scott Drimie has two decades of facilitation, research and teaching expertise related to food systems and food security across Africa. Taking a largely political economy lens (M.Phil, PhD Cantab.), he has focused primarily on food systems, examining different perspectives on power and the web of actors, relationships, activities, and institutions that shape them.

Scott has wide-ranging skills in cross-disciplinary research and, at Stellenbosch University, is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Leadership, (Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences) and the Nutrition Division, Department of Global Health (Faculty of Health and Medicine Sciences).

He has directed the Southern Africa Food Lab (www.southernafricafoodlab.org) since 2013. This is a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together stakeholders in the regional food system to identify and pilot innovative means to achieve long-term, sustainable food security. The Food Lab is housed at Agri-Sciences at Stellenbosch University.

His previous work includes engagement between 2007 and 2011 as a Research Fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). These responsibilities involved coordinating the Regional Network on AIDS, Livelihoods and Food Security – RENEWAL (www.ifpri.org/renewal) – which facilitated research on the interactions between HIV and food and nutrition security and the implications for policy and practice in southern and eastern Africa.

In 2000, Scott completed his PhD at Cambridge University, UK, which focused on South African land policy in the period 1994–1999.

Research Associate: Communications and Food Systems Expert

Stefanie Swanepoel

Stefanie Swanepoel, an experienced writer, researcher and lecturer, is a director of African Earth Rights communications consultancy and a director of The Beach Co-op – an organisation focused on eliminating the sources of marine litter and promoting a circular economy. She is the founder and one of the managers of Ecobrick Deep South in the peninsula and a founding member of the Mycelium Media Colab – a co-operative of multimedia professionals focused on producing content on sustainable and regenerative systems.

Research Associate: Career Development Expert in Higher Education

Anne Havemann-Serfontein

Anne Havemann-Serfontein is a Counseling Psychologist registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa since 2002. She joined Stellenbosch University’s Student Counselling Centre shortly thereafter, specialising in career development and counselling for students and prospective students. Anne has also worked as a consultant within the corporate industry since 2005 where she is involved in leadership development, as well as psychometric and competency assessments to gain in-depth insight into individual and team dynamics, potential and performance. She is currently responsible for the initiation and implementation of appropriate academic, psycho-social and other student graduate attribute development interventions for the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme and also works as a career consultant at the Centre for Career Advice at Stellenbosch University. She is MBTI (step 1 and 2), Baron EQ-i and Hogan certified.

Research Associate: Food systems, green skills and environment

Nicola Jenkin

Nicola has worked with the Sustainability Institute over the last few years on sustainable food system and corporate responsibility projects. Nicola is an independent researcher, facilitator, and advisor, with over 25 years’ experience in the sustainability and skills development fields in both South Africa and the UK.  She has an interest in strategic interventions that recognise the connectedness of systems – whether knowledge, organisational or along a supply chain. Her areas of focus are business development, corporate responsibility strategy, adding value to supply chains (with a focus on food systems), skills development and decent work. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of Witwatersrand’s Centre for Researching Education & Labour (REAL).

Research Associate: Sustainable communities and organisations

Palesa Mokomele

Palesa Mokomele is an entrepreneur with experience in media, communication and project management. She is a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow and a Chevening Scholar with over 10 years’ experience spanning stints in the public service and social entrepreneurship.

She is the editor of the first small-scale fisheries newspaper called ‘Thetha Mlobi’. The newspaper promotes literary within the South African small-scale fishing sector.

Palesa has worked for two Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as a Spokesperson. She was also the Director of Communication at the Fisheries Branch where she oversaw all communication within the fishing industry as a whole.

Her co-venture, Botho Concepts, has undertaken a critical study in gender-based violence (GBV) in the Western Cape, focusing on community facilitated solutions to root causes of GBV. As a project manager, Palesa oversaw the planning, budgeting and facilitation and management of the six-week process from inception to end.

Palesa possesses community liaison, facilitation, strategy and communication skills. She is a quick learner who is passionate about social systems that can sustainably transform lives in a collaborative manner.

Palesa hails from Nyanga in the Cape Flats. She holds a Masters degree in Political Communication from the University of Leeds. Palesa believes in decentralising information and believes that information about resources and opportunities should be easily available to citizens. ‘With people centred communication tools, we can design tools that reach people where they are’.

Research Advisory Associate

Chimene Chetty

Chimene has been an independent consultant since March 2019. She is an entrepreneur in her own right and has 360-degree understanding and insight into the sector. Her personal insights and experience as a female African entrepreneur have supported her commitment to developing strong, successful, regenerative and responsible businesses based on an African inclusive growth and a shared value approach. Her experience and expertise cover development of strategic plans, leading teams for success, designing responsive and relevant impact focused programmes, entrepreneurial curriculum and content design and development, and facilitation, and more recently work in diversity management.

Her focus is on building entrepreneurial mindsets which contribute to innovation solutions generation, competitive and agile organisations which are able to thrive in a VUCA context. She is actively involved in supporting the personal development of others as she believes that having the tools and understanding for optimal self-actualisation is critical to personal growth, success and successful entrepreneurship.

Chimene has two teenage children and identifies herself as an African womanist, mother, “solutioneer” and change maker dedicated to the development of community, country and continent. Her last full-time post job was as the Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Wits Business School (WBS). She joined the WBS after 20 years in the NGO and socio-economic development sector where she specialised in the design, development and implementation of programmes in various fields. Her experience in entrepreneurship started through social entrepreneurship, since 2004, during her time as Regional Director of Ashoka Southern Africa, a global NGO. Her experience spans the continent.

She has also founded various small businesses, social initiatives and has been on several committees, boards and working groups. She views entrepreneurship as a critical lever in delivering on socio economic rights, economic freedom of citizens and as vehicle for actualisation of aspirations and intention of many. Chimene holds a B.A., a Postgraduate Diploma in Management and Masters in Public and Development Management.

 

Sustainability strategy

Corporations, governments and development agencies tend to have a significant impact on society and therefore partnering with them on actual projects provide opportunities to influence sustainable transitions practically and more strategically. Supporting transitions within systems through institution specific research, providing context relevant advice and recommendations, allow for practical influence in strategic areas. This Institute’s strong team and strategic partnerships make it one of the leading influencers in the field.

Research

The SI has access to the latest research and thought leadership on sustainability, a key strength in this rapidly growing field. We undertake robust transdisciplinary and applied research that addresses the specific challenges faced by institutions in business, government and civil society. The core group of researchers are top-level graduates from the Masters’ and PhD programmes, with some also having extensive industry experience. Where the SI lacks specialised capacity and/or experience, strategic partnerships and research associates are brought in to execute work and develop leading research outputs.

Capacity building

Sustainability can be daunting if it is not explained in a clear and approachable manner that engages the target audience. Many of those best positioned to make the changes necessary to incorporate sustainability into business, government and civil society decision making, don’t have time to complete the academic programmes offered by the Institute. The Institute, therefore, provides short training courses and in-house programmes tailored to the needs and expertise of the audience. The Institute also prefers to build in-house capacity instead of getting stuck in endless consulting contracts.

Authorship

The compilation of sustainability literature requires a thorough understanding of the field and a network of reputable contacts. Guided by leading academics at the Institute, the research team has developed expertise in the management of large writing projects including international reports and books on sustainability, and is able to draw on experts from around the world to compile documents that are relevant and accessible to a variety of target audiences.