Friends of Education Africa recruits new board through Trustees Unlimited

Friends of Education Africa  is the UK arm of Education Africa, a non-profit organisation established in 1992, to deliver projects to help disadvantaged South Africans obtain a quality, relevant education that will improve their employment prospects in the local job market. 

The charity approached Trustees Unlimited to find a new Chair and a board of trustees to help it achieve sustainable growth and further its mission and success.

The Challenge

The challenge for Trustees Unlimited was to recruit a new Chair and board of six new trustees simultaneously and in a short time scale – effectively sourcing a start-up board.

Trustees Unlimited firstly recruited the charity’s new Chair, James Mendelssohn, Managing Director of Firm Management Associates, and then searched for a new board of trustees with broad and diverse skills and experience, as well as a passion for the charity’s cause and knowledge of Africa.

James Mendelssohn said: “The charity was going through a period of transition and we needed to recruit trustees with very specific skills and experience to ensure our sustainable future.

“Even though we are a small charity, the recruitment process was so important to us that we used Trustees Unlimited, a professional trustee recruitment service, to ensure we could access the best talent and skills available. James Urdang, our CEO and founder, who is based in Johannesburg, was able to brief the Trustees Unlimited team on one of his regular trips to London.”

The Solution

Trustees Unlimited didn’t disappoint – they delivered several candidates with the relevant skills, experience and good contacts. The charity appointed six trustees including two lawyers, an accountant and someone with global recruitment experience, which included Africa.

One of the trustees, Edmond Curtin, a Corporate and Securities Lawyer, said: “I feel extremely lucky to be a trustee at Friends of Education Africa. Like many people, I am interested in the future of Africa, and am keen to make what small contribution I can.

Working on the board of Friends of Education Africa has been a unique experience. This UK branch of a global charity was effectively a start-up when I joined which I found very interesting. As a lawyer, I was able to bring legal skills and a sense of what good governance looks like. I enjoy having the opportunity to apply my skills in a different context from my day job and there is a good sense of teamwork amongst all the trustees.”

“Trustees Unlimited creates a valuable way to connect charities with skilled and experienced people who can potentially make a positive contribution. For those thinking of becoming involved with a charity, I would certainly suggest a discussion with Trustees Unlimited as a good starting point,” he added.

Looking to the future

With a stable board of trustees in place, Friends of Education Africa has been able to focus on the future.  The board further assessed and identified the skills it needed and has been able to recruit some other trustees.

The charity has also completed several successful projects that have increased its income. This included a project that involved bringing a Marimba band of children from an AIDS Orphanage in Soweto to the UK. 

Ian Joseph, CEO, Trustees Unlimited said, “The investment in recruitment made by Friends of Education Africa has paid off. They have attracted really high calibre professionals to the board who are making a huge impact and contribution and helping drive the organisation forward. We look forward to watching the charity grow from strength to strength.”

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