Reflecting on the Past 15 years and Looking Ahead

by Kim Kieser (ELP 2009), South Africa
Image iconKim-Kieser1_2.jpgFor fifteen years, I have been building my resume as a proven social entrepreneur and making an impact along the Jukskei River in Johannesburg, South Africa.  As a result of my involvement with UC Berkeley, Ashoka and the Clinton Global Initiative, the impact of my work has become known in many countries around the world.

The dramatic positive results of several projects my team and I conducted over a period of 9 years between 2000 and 2008 in the Jukskei River Catchment, Cape Town, Kwazulu Natal and Mpumalanga provinces, has demonstrated that a clean river heals itself, creating visible change and improving biodiversity, which causes behavior change in the riverine community and a visible, measurable feedback loop from the community, watercourse and environment. Implemented programs included multilateral support garnered within provincial and national governments, local communities, corporate & industry partners, interest groups and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Based on the successes, challenges and lessons learned during the implementation of 19 community-based River Health and Integrated Waste Management research and development projects, as well as practical applications and programs by the Save Our Universal Land (SOUL) Foundation between 2000 and 2009, it became apparent that the Foundation (the mother NGO of WET Africa Ltd. of which I was the founder and CEO) required reengineering and repositioning. This led to the establishment of WET (Waterway Transformation Africa (Pty) Limited)  as a business and a Global Green Economy Franchise platform.

In 2003 I was selected as an Ashoka Fellow (Ashoka Global Association of Social Entrepreneurs). Ashoka was the driving force in supporting me to attend the UCB Beahrs ELP summer course. In 2009 I was granted a scholarship to attend the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program.

I can honestly say that attending the ELP was one of the best learning and personal experiences in my journey as an environmental social entrepreneur, and in my life. Berkeley is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, the university grounds filled with green rolling lawns, clear streams, giant redwoods and magnificent heritage buildings, not to mention the food! My favorite place was the International House, where food from various countries was available and very interesting conversations unfolded.

It was such an honor and pleasure to be among all the participants. I made some lifelong friends and shared great stories, thoughts and ideas with my peers and environmental practitioners from all over the world.

To top it all, I was one of the recipients of the Buck Kingman Small Grants Initiative (SGI) and received the fantastic bonus of approval by the Haas School of Business to select a team of Masters MBA Students to conduct a feasibility study of the WET Model.

I was able to develop a theoretical framework on the intangible model assets, having gained invaluable knowledge and input from the UCB Beahrs ELP team and awesome tutors, followed by the ratification of the model by the brilliant Haas MBA team in June 2010.

Launching the WET Model Demonstration Site at Alexandra, Johannesburg

The Alexandra Jukskei River Restoration Initiative 2015

The WET Africa Waterfall Estates - Jukskei River Restoration initiative is a unique project supported by our community of key stakeholders. Waterfall Estates is a groundbreaking eco-estate development downstream of the Jukskei River in Alexandra. The multi disciplinary model demonstration project will be implemented in Alexandra, Johannesburg.

We are currently in the process of stakeholder engagement and securing resources and investments.  The WET pilot project will create 100 direct and tenfold future and indirect green jobs for the local community.

WET Africa will be established as a multi disciplinary Green Franchise Platform enabling replication of the tested holistic model throughout the Jukskei catchment and beyond our borders.

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Image iconDickson-Monare-Site-Manager-WET-Africa-300x177_2.png Dickson Monare, Site Manager, WET Africa