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18 June 2013 – On Sunday 16 June Mthobeli Tengimfene, executive head of corporate social investment projects at the Vodacom Foundation – one of the driving forces behind the Mobile Education Programme and the Vodacom Digital Classroom – was profiled in the Sunday World newspaper. We republish the article here.


Man with the magic wand

Mthobeli TengimfeneHELPING HAND: Vodacom's Mthobeli Tengimfene gets a kick out of helping people. (Image: Sunday World)By Amos Mananyetso

Mthobeli Tengimfene, 50, is head of corporate social investment at Vodacom. He tells us how he makes sure that his organisation stays in touch with communities.

What do you do?

I oversee the implementation of the Vodacom Foundation's flagship projects, particularly the Mobile Education Programme, which is in partnership with the Department of Education, Microsoft, Mindset Learn and Cisco.

What does a typical day entail?

It entails engaging with project partners, evaluating progress, evaluating funding and partnership proposals, and other management tasks.

What challenges do you face in your day-to-day job?

Ensuring that foundation funds are spent efficiently within the agreed time and making sure that our partners share the same sense of urgency in delivering.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Seeing the glow on people's faces as a result of our work and assistance, and realising that the things we take for granted mean so much to those who do not have them.

What are some of the projects that you deal with most?

My main focus is the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in improving teaching and learning in rural and township schools.

What do these projects entail?

These projects entail partnering with the government and private sector companies in establishing a virtual private network that delivers community-based ICT resource centres, connecting schools, training teachers and providing digital educational content.

The platform we have created has enabled other possibilities such as training unemployed youths, providing access to education for pupils with disabilities and rekindling the culture of reading.

What did you do before this?

I started my career working in NGOs, focussing on training. I then spent many years working for the government, mostly at the Department of Communication.

What did you study and when?

I have a diploma in teaching (1984) and then I did a postgraduate diploma in development studies (1993). I later did a master's in information systems management (2001).

How do you balance work and family?

It starts by being conscious of the need to balance the two.

One of the things I have learnt is to communicate with my family, particularly the kids, about my work.

It's surprising how understanding they are when you keep them informed.

Do you have advice for young people who would like to follow in your footsteps?

They need to develop a passion for societal development and realise that it cannot be done for people but [needs the involvement of] the intended beneficiaries.

mananyetsoa@sundayworld.co.za, or Twitter @Mezosti