What's New!



For the second cycle of the Leadership for Change programme, thirteen (13) candidates from within the SADC region were selected to participate. Click here to view their bios.


Call for applications

Call for applications for the second intake of the Leadership for Change Programme are now closed!

Through its extensive interaction with civil society in the region, the Southern Africa Trust has become increasingly committed to building strong and effective civil society leadership for the southern Africa region. It believes that sound and effective leadership forms a critical part of organisational capacity development to engage and promote policies that will facilitate poverty eradication. As a result, the Leadership for Change initiative was designed to enhance the leadership capability within civil society in Southern Africa to engage policy makers and leaders in other sectors of society. It is designed to be an ongoing programme that improves the collective strategic leadership of the civil society sector, providing selected emerging civil society leaders in Southern Africa with a platform to reflect on experiences of leadership in pro-poor policy development and implementation in the region. It also provides a space where civil society leaders are exposed to and engage with each other on a range of leadership theories, applications and practices within global, continental and regional civil society, and in particular leadership geared to achieving pro-poor development outcomes in a changing social, economic, and political context.

Given their proximity to communities, civil society groups hold a strategically important position for influencing and promoting pro-poor policy change. However, civil society leaders are very often ineffective at exerting their influence on policy formulation and decision making processes. The Leadership for Change initiative aims to offer a space for emerging civil society leaders to activate their capabilities to influence the vision, values, and direction of the civil society sector in southern Africa as a whole – and to develop their abilities to engage decision-makers in other sectors with strategic ease and influence. This will be done through a facilitated sharing of experiences, learning and good practice from each other about building coherent, coordinated, and effective practices through strategic partnerships and alliances.

By providing a platform for various participants from the civil society sector to engage with and share their experiences, including their challenges and successes in influencing regional development, this initiative strives to be a catalyst for innovations in policy influencing by civil society groups. It provides an opportunity for participants to critically analyse key aspects of regional integration and development interventions in Africa to better identify and understand strategic pro-poor policy options needed in southern Africa. A key framework for the Leadership for Change programme is effective and harmonised policy engagement within the context of regional integration. One of the challenges experienced by civic leaders is how best to mobilize the voices of poor people in policy dialogue and engagement. The initiative will explore cases and experiences of successful examples of where the voices of poor people have been mobilised and analyse the critical enablers that made this possible. Participants will also share experiences and learning on alliance building and networking among civil society groups for policy change.

The second two-year cycle of the Leadership for Change programme will start in September 2013 in Mauritius. The programme will have four thematic sessions that will be covered over a two year period. Each session will last for six days (including travel). Each cycle includes a maximum of fifteen (15) successful applicants, who must commit to and participate in all four sessions in the cycle and must have the support of the organisation that they are based in to participate in the programme.

The initiative’s approach to leadership development is anchored on the belief that action learning is best achieved through a combination of methods that include practice, dialogue, exposure to new information and new perspectives, and personal reflection. The thematic sessions have been designed in such a way that each session provides the participants with a unique exposure to experienced leaders and development practitioners. This will be achieved through a mix of learning techniques such as conferencing, debates and dialogues which will allow them to draw lessons from successful practices by leaders from different sectors. Participants will be expected to develop an analytical paper at the end of each thematic session that may be published in a journal dedicated to civil society perspectives on leadership in Africa.

The first thematic session on the challenges of leadership will be conducted in a seminar-type format, focusing on reflections on theories of leadership, leadership styles and value systems. It will draw on the experience of Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders who will interact with the participants either directly or through video conferencing. Based on the presentations, participants will critically examine their own leadership styles and values, drawing lessons from various approaches to leadership, identifying strengths, weakness and new leadership opportunities.

In the second thematic session on leading in an integrated world, the participants will be exposed to thought leadership on the challenges and opportunities of globalization and on models of regional integration for southern Africa. This will be achieved through presentations by researchers and practitioners of regional integration, followed by debates and discussions. The objective of this session is to analyse the effects of globalization on developing countries and understand how civil society leaders can respond in evidence-based and results-oriented ways to critical issues such as aid effectiveness, trade liberalization, investment flows, the social dimensions and social costs of regional integration, models of regional integration and pro-poor growth and development. The session also aims to strengthen the capacity of civil society leaders to work strategically within specific political and socio-economic contexts and to be able to identify critical entry points for pro-poor policy engagement.

Mobilizing the voice of the poor for inclusive decision making is one of the most challenging tasks confronting civil society leaders. For this reason the third session will focus on the practice of harnessing the power of people. It will provide a forum for the participants to exchange experiences on approaches to harnessing the power of people to bring about change that will result in better socio-economic conditions for the poor, marginalised and underserved. Discussions of case studies on institutional and organizational strengthening in organizing the voices of the poor for inclusive decision making processes will be part of the learning process. These will include organizational issues such as network building, building alliances and coalitions around policy advocacy interventions in a coordinated and coherent manner, as well as civil society accountability, governance, transparency and accountability.

The final thematic session of the programme will focus on the commitment to act. This session is designed to enable the participants themselves to determine their respective leadership roles and strategies by drawing on the knowledge gained and key learning from the previous three sessions. Participants will also be expected to develop strategies for effective coordination amongst civil society groupings with which they are associated, and identifying strategic opportunities for networking, building alliances, building constituents, and collective leadership.

Successful participants completing all four thematic sessions will be awarded a certificate of participation.


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