Lesego Serolong

Founder, Bokamoso Impact Investments and chair, Raise the Children International

Lesego Serolong is the co-founder and chair of Raise the Children International, a registered non-profit in South Africa, the USA and UK. As a former volunteer teacher in a rural school outside her hometown of Mmabatho in North West, and having been orphaned herself at 14, Serolong believes in education-based solutions to poverty.

She also founded Bokamoso Impact Investments, which aims to “nurture the country’s smallholder farmers into commercial growers by tapping into their latent economic resources, which have remained unexploited for decades, such as fertile land and, most importantly, the human resource.”

“Our overall goal is to reduce poverty, unemployment and food insecurity by tackling their root causes and deploying proven strategies to achieve sustainable, lasting impact.” Serolong realises that orphaned scholars come from communities with high rates of teenage pregnancy and unemployment. Raise the Children identifies selfmotivated orphans from impoverished and rural communities and mobilises resources for these children to access higher education that leads to employment and public service. “After my parents passed away, my secondary school gave me a bursary to continue my studies. Although struggling with my loss, I became involved in outreach to the elderly and orphaned in and around Huhudi,” says Serolong. “Through loving and caring for the orphaned and lonely I healed my own pain.”

“Because my family comes from rural areas, I have always been intensely interested in how to bring transformation to these areas to help widows and orphans thrive, keep families together and accomplish this objective in a sustainable way.” She is an alumna of the City College of New York with a bachelor’s degree in international studies, specifically social and economic development in southern Africa. She is also a graduate from the London School of Economics with an MSc in social policy and development. “After my studies, I spent time in Asia in impoverished communities exploring ways in which social entrepreneurship drives self-sustainable growth for rural communities on a larger scale,” she recalls. “I felt that South African communities had the same potential to be transformed.”

“Bokamoso’s agricultural hub in Manyeledi is literally in the Kgalagadi desert — stranded from technological, educational, and basic human resources to drive local food production.” “I am driven by the passion to see young Africans become entrepreneurs, taking full advantage of the opportunities agriculture and entrepreneurship present, especially when it comes to creating sustainable job opportunities and dealing with food insecurity.” “Our goal is to build more partnerships in order to scale our models across South Africa and the rest of the continent. We would like to build a farmers’ community, where we can benefit from bulk buying and direct selling and explore value-added agro-processing.”

— Rebecca Haynes

Twitter: @Bokamoso_Africa