Meet our Directors
Planting the Seeds of Entrepreneurial Growth and Job Creation
Our directors bring a wide range of skills to Seeds of Africa.
None of the board members derive any financial gain from the organisation or the businesses.
Michael Lasch has grown up in Johannesburg and is passionate about the potential for South Africa. He did a BAcc (part-time) after school while doing his articles with KPMG. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1992.
His employment history includes serving as Financial Director of the South African subsidiary of a multinational German company and serving as an interim CFO of a Public company.
Currently, Michael is responsible for the establishment of the IoDSA Governance Assessment Instrument as the measurement and reporting mechanism, of the application of King III practices in all industry sectors. He works closely with the Institute of Directors and the related Regulators in SA.
He is also currently involved in the project to pilot the measurement and reporting of the strength and quality of stakeholder relationships in organisations (primarily Listed companies) in terms of integrated reporting requirements. He works closely with Relationships Global based in Cambridge, UK.
Michael serves as non executive director on various boards. Noteworthy is Bean There Coffee Company of which he is a Co-Founder. Bean There Coffee Company is the largest fair trade coffee company in South Africa whereby it strives to remain the largest, and to be that for ultimately all African grown commodities.
Sustainability, fair practice and a fresh thought for economic practices by the adoption of relational thinking lies at the heart of Michael’s purpose to apply his talent and skills. Empowering disadvantaged persons is part of the call to have meaningful relationships with those in community with us.
Founder and Strategic Director
Jane Chapman was born and brought up in Johannesburg and was in the fashion industry for 18 years. She’s married and has 2 daughters, a son and a granddaughter.
In 2002 Jane founded the Refilwe Skills Project where individuals from the Refilwe community were given an opportunity to learn a skill and develop their own businesses. They began with 20 people learning beading, baking, wire work and welding. In 2004, the African Co-operative Action Trust training programmes were introduced which allowed the businesses both training and a structure that supported future sustainability.
In 2010, the project had outgrown the ambit of the Refilwe project and was able to stand alone, hence the creation of a separate Section 21 Company focused entirely on education, skills development and job creation. Jane is dedicated to growing the project and supporting the concept of providing those who are under privileged with the tools needed to further themselves and be connected to the real economy of the 21st century.
Jane says about Seeds of Africa:
“Ever since I can remember I have dreamt of having the opportunity to spend time in development work and self-help initiatives. I’m learning every day and feel privileged to work with the talented, highly dedicated entrepreneurs at the Seeds of Africa Skills Centre. It is engaging and inspirational seeing the transformative power of using funds to seed small businesses that boost livelihoods, giving regular income that leads to the creation of more jobs extending the economic benefits into the broader community. Through offering the opportunity to empower themselves we are most humbled to see their dignity and confidence being restored whilst uplifting and improving their lives.”
Matthew graduated from Wits University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Accounting. He passed the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants Board Exam in 1989. He served articles at Pim Goldby/ Deloittes from 1989 to 1991. Matthew joined IGI in 1992 as a Project Accountant, he then joined Officemart as the Financial Manager in 1993. Matthew joined NJR Steel Holdings as the Financial Director in 1995.
Matthew has been actively involved in successfully growing a small family business into a medium sized corporate with 15 businesses nationwide over the last 15 years.
The enterprise and skills development initiative has benefited from Mathew’s experience in small business development. He strongly believes in the key aims of the initiative, which are to empower people and give them the opportunity to be independent.
Strategic & Marketing Director
Jennifer has extensive experience in marketing strategy, from both an agency and a marketing perspective, spanning over 20 years. She has obtained senior positions in both the agency and marketing organizations. The latter half of her career has been in a consultancy position.
She has worked on a wide range of brands from soap to helping to develop market positions for countries. The highlight of her career was working on the original strategy for Brand South Africa as a consultant to the IMC.
It was during the course of this project, that the economic divide of the South African population was further highlighted to her. It was, however, the visible examples of the inherent tenacity and the spirit of the people that made her realize that an initiative such as SoA could play a significant role in the social economic development of people at a grassroots level. Jenny truly believes in South Africa’s current positioning of a country that is “Alive with Possibility”. Therefore, the opportunity to work with an organization such as SoA is – for her – a true privilege, assisting people to create a better life for themselves based on the real foundation of sustainable entrepreneurship
Founding Director and shareholder: Southern Cross Risk Management, Southern Cross Assist, Channel Risk Management, Southern Cross Underwriters
In his capacity as a leading corporate governance, risk management and financial institutions insurance specialist, John Austen has been invited to serve the interests of the Section 21 Company. John recognizes the importance of influencing others to generate wealth through the process of creating entrepreneurial skills and the ability to understand and develop sustainable businesses in the informal sector. This in turn, will have a great impact on families and communities throughout South Africa.
CEO of Investec Bank PLC and Investec Bank Limited
Richard was born in Sheffield, England in 1962. He grew up in Cape Town and attended Pinelands High School. He graduated with a B. Com (Honors in Financial Management) and a CTA in 1984. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1987 and completed his articles at Price Waterhouse in Johannesburg. Richard worked for PW in the USA from 1988 until 1990 and returned to South Africa in 1984. He then joined NDH Bank in 1992 as Financial Director and was a founding partner of Circle Risk Management in 1993.
Richard joined Investec Bank in 1995 and is currently CEO of Investec Bank PLC and Investec Bank Limited. Richard was actively involved in Round Table for 12 years from 1992 until 2003. During this time he served on the Association’s National Executive Committee as National Treasurer, was the Gauteng Area Chairman in 2000 and founding Table Chairman for Sandton Round Table 121 in 1996. During his time in Round Table, he was actively involved in numerous community projects and charity fund raising events throughout the Gauteng region. In 2003 he was invited back to Round Table as an honorary member for an additional year. He continues to be passionate about community upliftment initiatives in South Africa