Dream deferred… now a reality

8 months ago when Pip announced that she was resigning from enke, I, like many, were surprised, a bit in shock wondering how anyone else could lead enke, but also excited that Pip felt that the organisation was at a stage that could be passed on to other hands. It was also an amazing opportunity to lead an organisation that I have grown to love so much. I applied to be CEO almost at a whim – knowing that there was no way that I could fill the shoes of this incredible woman whose tenacity and will has built enke to be a globally recognised organisation. It was really a dream job for me – one of those you apply for because you just can’t pass it up, but that you don’t really expect to get. As I advanced through the selection process, that dream had a bit more substance, but it was still a dream. And then, in December, I found out that I had come a close second – I was disappointed, but so proud of myself for getting so far and for persevering through. Although the dream hadn’t been realized, it didn’t seem so far-fetched any more, and the process of applying I had learned a lot about myself and what I could do so that I could get there in the future. The dream was deferred.

In January, it was time to welcome a new person to the team which we all did with open arms and great expectations. Unfortunately, it didn’t work dreams become realityout. The person turned out not to be the right fit with our values. It was hard on all of us as a team and the last month has been quite a roller-coaster of emotion, but also of intense focus on our work and rallying together as a team. Because, in the end, it is the work that we do and the people we work with at enke that makes everything better.

On Sunday 29 March I got a call from Leigh Meinert, our Chairperson, letting me know that the  board of directors named me the new CEO of enke: Make Your Mark. My dream of leading enke as its CEO had become a reality.

When I first walked into the doors of enke: Make Your Mark, it was supposed to be a temporary learning experience. The goal was to get exposure to the South African context and youth development practice in southern Africa so that I could start my own initiative in Zimbabwe. I wasn’t expecting to find something that would align so closely with my vision, the issues I was passionate about and what I felt I could achieve both professionally and personally. But, with enke, that’s exactly what happened. With enke, I found that the organisation’s mission, vision and programs were aligned to what I had hoped to establish, realising that I could achieve my hopes for an effective regional youth development organisation with enke.

In the three years I have been working at enke: Make Your Mark, I have worked in multiple aspects of the organisation. I started as a Communications Intern, revising the communications strategy to align with the South African context, building policies and processes to streamline our messaging, and building enke’s media profile. From my internship, I went on to become Programs Manager, building systems and processes into our programs to be more efficient and effective in our work. One of my greatest honours has been to be enke’s first Chief Programs Officer. This was a challenging and rewarding role, for which I had to to draw on all my educational, professional and personal experiences. I’ve loved being in the background tweaking and refining the Programs, focusing on how we deliver them and making sure we did our best that everyone who participates gets the maximum benefit.

In my time at enke, one thing that has stood out, is the people – the diverse, bold, amazing individuals that make up the enke family. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been there every step of the way, giving guidance and support (often unknowingly so), because there is no way I would have had the confidence to apply for this role without you. Honk! Honk!

So, other than my experience at enke, what do I bring to the table? I have over ten years of work experience built across the private, social enterprise and non-profit sectors in Zimbabwe, Canada and South Africa. I’ve worked in university administration, student organization, and nonprofit and social enterprise. I’m a proud graduate of York University (Canada), holding an honours degree in International Development Studies and Communication Studies as well as a Certificate in Non-Profit Management. I’m also a proud alumna of the GIBS Social Entrepreneurship Programme.

My vision for enke is ambitious – to be a financially sustainable organisation, to consolidate our impact, to grow our reach (beyond South Africa), and to be a leader in the field of youth empowerment. I believe we can do it. I’ve seen us do it, and go from strength to strength. I’ve been part of the journey. Now, I look forward to leading enke to its next phase – the details of which cannot be contained in a single blog. I’d prefer to share it over a cup of coffee.

I would never have imagined that this could have happened. But it has. And I’m grateful and feel incredibly blessed to have the board and the team believing in me to lead enke. My dream deferred has become a reality. I’m excited to get to know you as enke’s CEO and also to get started making my vision for enke and our impact a reality.


– Rufaro Mudimu

Introducing enke’s new CEO

To the wonderful enke family,

I’m writing to you with some wonderful news – but also with some not so wonderful news.

First the good news: it is with great excitement that I am writing to announce Rufaro Mudimu’s appointment as CEO of enke: Make Your Mark.  Now the not so good stuff: unfortunately things didn’t work out with Farzeen Bhana, who was originally appointed as CEO in January.  After two months, sadly Farzeen had to leave the team.  Unfortunately there was a values mismatch and the board made the tough decision that it wasn’t going to work.  The upside, however (and this is really the point of this) is that when we were recruiting for the CEO position last year there was a second candidate that we were considering, someone who we always knew had the potential to lead enke.  That person was our very own Rufaro Mudimu, enke’s Chief Programs Officer.

So it is with great excitement that I welcome Rufaro to the role.  I’ve worked with Rufaro for three years now and I can’t think of anyone who is more passionate about enke’s work and people.  I still remember the day she was interviewed for a communications internship (yup, that’s right – from intern to CEO in just three hard-working years) and after only about 5 minutes of conversation I knew she was going to be a good fit.  I also remember a very early conversation at Velo cafe in Braamfontein when Rufaro shared her dreams of scaling enke beyond South Africa and I realised that we had that in common.  However, I think her passion is summed up beautifully in her response to being asked to step into the role last month: she simply said, “even if it were just for one day, it would be an honour to lead the organisation that I am so passionate about and have learned so much from”.

Rufaro has written a blog to say hello and to share her vision for enke which you can read here, and her bio is here.


I’m really excited about the next chapter of enke’s growth and can’t wait to see Rufaro lead the organisation.


– Pipexciting times

Sharing some sad news – remembering Nnete Malebo

Remembering Nnete MaleboLast week brought news of the tragic passing of one our enke family, Nnete Malebo. On Thursday 23 October,Nnete was found in her residence room at the University of Cape Town and an autopsy determined that she died of natural causes. She was just one month away from graduating and was preparing to embark on a Master’s programme. She was 21 years old.
Nnete is survived by her parents and two older brothers. She was laid to rest on Saturday 1 November in her hometown of Bloemfontein and our deepest condolences and sympathy go to her family.

Since we heard about the death of this incredible young woman, we have been dumbstruck with disbelief and grief.

She was an Igniter in our very first Forum in Cape Town in 2012. Nnete touched our lives with her dedication, her spunk,  her smile, her laughter, and her ability to listen and make you feel better. She had an indelible impact on the Trailblazers she worked with during that first Forum in Cape Town and the support and encouragement she gave to them afterwards. We are so thankful that this young woman chose to be part of our lives and our enke family.

Nnete made her mark in many lives and organizations. She was an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Scholar and Fellow. She was active in the UCT community as a subwarden in Clarinus Residence, Vice-President in UCT’s Investment Society and was involved in other campus organizations and activities.

To us, Nnete will always be a role model. In her short life, she showed us the power of commitment, dedication and passion.

We would like to thank the enke family members who took time to get in touch and share the news with us, and who represented the people Nnete had touched by attending her memorial service and funeral. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, whose care and support enabled her to become the young woman and inspiration she has been to us.

For those who knew Nnete, we would like to ask you to join us in celebrating her life by sharing your memories of her, or the impact that she had on you on our Facebook wall – enke: Make Your Mark.

“You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
– David Harkins”

Big news from enke CEO, Pip Wheaton

Celebration Event Header

Dear enke family,

It is with many mixed emotions that I write this letter. I want to let you know that I have put in my resignation as CEO of enke: Make Your Mark.  My last day will be July 31st 2015. I wanted to let you know why I’ve made this decision and what an incredible opportunity it represents for you and for enke.

enke’s come a long way since those first days.  We started in a garage in Durban  – no internet, the occasional snake coming to visit the “office”, just volunteers with a big dream – and, in those first years, had more than one instance of wondering if we were crazy for even trying to make this happen.  But we did it.  And now we’re on track to have our biggest year this year: there are more young people entering the programs than ever before; expanding to Bloemfontein; a bigger, stronger team; more, impactful, youth-led projects are launching and we’re receiving real recognition for the work that we are doing.  We also have big plans for the next phase of our growth.

This is EXACTLY why it’s time for me to leave.  I started enke five and a half years ago (with my two amazing co-founders, Tom and Kat) and I always hoped that there would come a day when enke would be able to survive on its own. In January this year I mapped out our next 3 years and realised that there is a window next year when the organisation has both consolidated its model and is on the cusp of further expansion, which allows for a full handover.  I watched the team and the organisation for 6 months and I realised that they were stronger than they’ve ever been – and that actually, I’m not needed anymore, not in this capacity anyway.  It was an incredibly humbling, difficult, exciting thing to realise.  It’s simultaneously a blow to my pride (perhaps we all secretly want to believe that we’re indispensable), a source of massive joy (the team is so strong they can do this on their own!) and an unleashing of possibility (both for me to go and explore what’s next and for the organisation to have someone with fresh perspective enter this leadership role).

In short, I’m leaving because enke is stronger than it’s ever been and I am so grateful and excited for that.

So, what’s next for enke? We’re going to be looking for a new CEO to lead the organisation. The position description will be posted in September / October and we’ll be asking you to spread the word! We’ll search for as long as it takes to find the right person.  From there, I’ll hand over all of the information, relationships and responsibility to a new person and phase myself out over the remaining period.

The new CEO might be someone you’ve met before (an existing team member, a former volunteer or board member, one of our speakers or panelists), or it might be someone totally new – that decision will be up to our board of directors (with a whole lot of input from the team).  I’ll introduce you to them as soon as I can and if you know of anyone who you would love to suggest, please forward them the application when the time comes.

As I’ve gone through this process, I’ve had a quote from Ruth Reichl that I keep coming back to: “It’s the things that scare you the most that you have to do”.  I’ve been really scared to leave enke – not because I thought the organisation wouldn’t survive without me, but because I didn’t want to let go. And now, over the past 6 months, it’s with true excitement that I have made this decision.

What’s next for me?  Honestly, I have no idea.  Depending on who I’ve been talking to I’ve said maybe I’ll do my MBA somewhere fun, maybe I’ll become a yoga teacher, maybe I’ll move to Melbourne / Madrid / Montreal / Montague.  Or maybe I’ll just stay in Jozi, the city I’ve come to love so much.  Maybe I’ll do all of the above.  I really don’t know and that’s just the point: the closing of this chapter so that a new one can start. What I do know is that enke will always be a part of me and that I hope to be involved in other capacities (in whatever form is needed). For now, the next 12 months is dedicated to finding, installing and supporting the next CEO.

Thank you for your ongoing support to myself, the team, the alumni and enke as an organisation.I’m looking forward to seeing what the next chapter looks like – for enke, for me, for each of you.

Please feel free to get in touch with any questions, I am here for another whole year after all!

– Pip


2013 enke: Make Your Mark

Contact Details:

7th Floor Heerengracht Building
87 De Korte Street
Braamfontein 2017, Johannesburg


Phone: +27 (0)11 403 1241/3

Fax: +27 (0)86 563 2544


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