Social Entrepreneur Jacob Lief Ubuntu Education Fund South Africa

Jacob Lief, Founder of Ubuntu Education Fund

Photo by Vance Jacobs

Social entrepreneur Jacob Lief started the non-profit organization Ubuntu Education Fund in 1999 at age 20 with the goal of transforming the lives of children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. His interest for South Africa began on a trip that he took there as a young high school student.

Over the years, Ubuntu created a comprehensive, child-centered, community-based development plan for the townships of Port Elizabeth. They provide world-class health and educational support to the orphaned and vulnerable children in Port Elizabeth, including those with HIV.

Ubuntu highlights the difference between merely touching a child’s life versus transforming it.

Buy Jacob Lief’s book on Amazon

I Am Because You Are, Ubuntu Education Fund by Jacob Lief

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Show Notes & Summary for Jacob Lief

  • Ubuntu is the idea that I am because you are
  • Why checking boxes in the international development aid industry wasn’t what Jacob wanted to do through Ubuntu Education Fund
  • What Jacob Lief really thought about his poetry program
  • Why a cup of soup and a windup computer are not enough
  • Cradle to Career
  • The advice that Geoffrey Canada gave Jacob Lief
  • Parenting begins in the first trimester
  • Ubuntu Education Fund’s exit strategy
  • “Real sustainability is investing in a child every day of their lives.”
  • Why Students Helping Honduras should focus on working with pregnant mothers
  • Why generational abuse is so challenging to address
  • “There is no point in investing in a kid’s math and science education if they’re being abused at home every night.”
  • “It’s not about program supplies. It’s about people.”
  • Jacob’s first trip to South Africa as a high school student
  • The moment during that first trip to South Africa that changed Jacob’s life
  • The very first raffle fundraiser that Jacob organized to start  Ubuntu
  • “I don’t need anymore computers. I need people for this organization.”
  • Ubuntu Education Fund’s philosophy on staff retention and organizational culture
  • Why the 12 month grant cycle is creating an unhealthy dynamic between the donor and the NGO
  • Jacob talks about donors who are cynical of NGOs
  • “Is it good enough for your own children?”
  • BUILD – Bertha Ubuntu Internal Leaders Development Program for Ubuntu’s staff development
  • Jacob emphasizes the importance of finding mentors for staff members
  • 60 donors make up 80% of Ubuntu’s funding
  • “It’s not about giving sob stories. It’s about uplifting people”
  • Ubuntu’s first gala fundraiser
  • What Ubuntu Education Fund’s $450,000 study with McKinsey revealed
  • Why it was harder for Jacob to fail than succeed in high school
  • Not everything worthwhile is calculated
  • “We get so caught up in the numbers game. It’s all bullshit.”
  • “When an organization says they’re reaching 10,000 kids, I just laugh and roll my eyes.”
  • Jacob’s reaction when Geoffrey Canada told him that the Harlem Children’s Zone had graduated 347 kids from college.
  • Why Geoffrey Canada said to Jacob that “he was like every other asshole out there.”
  • What Jacob does to deal with burnout
  • Why Jacob thinks most nonprofit memoirs out there are bad