The Kusasa Project was founded in 2006 by Dave Riordan and Doug Gurr, initially to facilitate reading and recreational sports’ activities one day a week at a deprived school in the informal settlement outside of Franschhoek.
Although an area of renowned natural beauty and world class wines, the Cape Winelands, in which Franschhoek is situated, is also an area which has a large population of impoverished, previously-disadvantaged people. This area has a relatively high rate of poverty, underemployment, illiteracy, alcoholism, abuse, and crime.
During the initial interaction in the local government schools where there was a poor record of educational performance, our volunteers provided stimulation for English language learning and created reading opportunities. They also ran a variety of recreational sporting activities for learners in Grades five to seven. However, it soon became apparent that the challenges of changing behaviours in existing schools was an obstacle which would take years and considerable political will to alter. After consultation with skilled educators and social workers both in South Africa and abroad, we soon came to realise that a more direct approach was needed, integrating the following parameters:
- Full control over the curriculum and delivery of the educational experience, utilising an internationally-recognized approach tailored to the local environment.
- Intervention at the earliest phase of the out-of-home educational experience, beginning at pre-school age.
- Attention to the basic nutritional needs of children on a daily basis to allow for a receptivity to learning (“Hungry children cannot learn!”)
- Provision for older students to attend higher-functioning schools and access to support structures to help improve their chance of success in continuing education.
Since our founding in 2006, we have taken a practical, mission-focused approach, keeping the needs and aspirations of the children at the heart of what we do and not allowing past history to be an excuse for failure or failure to strive for a brighter future. While many well-meaning initiatives have come and gone over the years, The Kusasa Project is extremely proud of our record of staying engaged in the community we serve each and every school day since 2006 – staying true to our mantra of under promising and over-delivering.
With a simple and consistent approach and with our kids as the greatest representatives of the work we do, we have gained the trust and support of individuals, foundations and organisations locally and abroad, who recognize the intelligence of our engagement and the success of our programmes. This is evidenced by the growth of our activities each year. Through the work of our dedicated staff we work every day to maintain this trust and build an exciting vision for the future.
Over the years,The Kusasa Project has gained the trust of a wide spectrum of the local community, government organisations, local schools (both government and private), local businesses and members of all segments of the population and economic strata. Our honest, non-political and consistent approach has resulted in ever-increasing levels of support for our mission.
Dave has been a banker for 30 years, originally in the US and now in the UK, where he works in the City of London. It was during a sabbatical to South Africa that he founded The Kusasa Project. He has served on the board of schools in the UK and South Africa. He lives in the UK and remains involved on a regular basis with all aspects of the organisation.
Doug co-founded the organisation in 2006, having moved to the Franschhoek Valley in 2002 after a successful career as a stock broker. Doug is now a partner in the Franschhoek arm of Pam Golding International, a highly-regarded estate agency firm and also provides daily guidance to the staff on a wide variety of matters.
Chef Margot Janse
Margot joined the trustees in 2014 and has provided invaluable guidance for the nutritional programs as well as outstanding contacts locally and abroad for financial support. Margot is the Executive Chef of the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek and recognised internationally as one of the top chefs in the world.
The Kusasa Project is registered as a South African Charitable Trust, a Public Benefit Organization. Our international tax efficient fundraising affiliations include:
- The United Kingdom: The Kusasa Project UK
- The Netherlands: Stichting The Kusasa Project
- The USA: The Columbus Foundation
Our financial statements are audited by Moore Stephens Chartered Accountants, in Stellenbosch.