Yusuf Randera-Rees

CEO, Awethu Project

Yusuf Randera-Rees believes in this country. He is convinced that there is a wealth of hidden, untapped potential in its people and that the high rates of unemployment are the result of lack of opportunity, not lack of talent. Randera-Rees was born to a Muslim South African father and a Welsh mother. His parents were not allowed to marry under apartheid law but despite this � or maybe because of it � he is determined to do his part in making the country work. He grew up in Johannesburg and was elected junior mayor of the city while he was at Crawford College. After high school he went to Harvard university in the United States on a full scholarship to study economics, graduating with honours in 2005; then he spent a year working in investments at Credit Suisse in Switzerland before becoming a South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholar and furthering his studies at Oxford University. There he completed his MSc in economics and African studies � a combination he feels gave him a deeper understanding of business on the continent. It was while he was studying at two of the world's most prestigious universities that Randera-Rees realised that the future world leaders he met there were not supermen (or women); they were simply talented people who had had resources invested in them. Working from this premise, when he returned to South Africa he set up the Awethu Project � a sort of academy for entrepreneurs � with Ryan Pakter, his classmate from both Crawford and Harvard. What Awethu does is identify talented individuals � through wide-scale recruitment drives and a series of tests � and then pour resources into them for two and a half years. Those chosen will essentially be made CEOs of their own companies as well as receive focused attention from young lawyers, consultants, auditors and fellows from Harvard who will come over for six months at a time. The project is currently in the final stages of candidate selection, and will hopefully be under way by July � and on its way to really changing how South Africa works. �Tarryn Harbour

Lunch spot: Canteen, Arts on Main, Johannesburg