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In Conversation with Nadim Aziz CEO RR Foundation

The Rajen Reddy Foundation (RR Foundation) was officially launched on the 18 February 2022 in commemoration of Mr Rajen Reddy, the late executive chairperson of the RR Group, and the philanthropic work that he had set out to accomplish. Although the work had been going on informally for the last few decades, the RR Foundation formalised the good work that he had set out to do.

“Our late executive chairperson, Mr Rajen Reddy, meant a lot of things to a lot of people,” said Nadim Aziz, CEO of the RR Foundation.On the ground he had touched many lives, especially among the youth. In formalising the Rajen Reddy Foundation and in continuing Mr Reddy’s legacy, we all hope that the values that he carried and reflected are encapsulated and passed down to the next generation. It's important for us to universalise these values and to carry them forward in a way that everyone can relate to.”

The Foundation has identified that there is currently a generation of people who may have known Mr Reddy personally. However, going forward there will soon be a new generation that did not know him personally.

“They will be at the forefront of carrying our objectives and goals forward and will possibly want to do things in a new light and a new way. We find that it is very important to universalise his values within an ecosystem, so that future generations are able to carry the RR Foundation forward and in turn pass these values on to the next generation,” explained Nadim.

Mr Reddy was extremely passionate about education – especially about education amongst the youth – and he chaired an historic relationship with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) for the same reason. Through the building of university and industry relationships, Mr Reddy helped DUT to develop adaptive graduates for the workplace.

“His main points of focus were on SMME development and he had a great passion for passing down his own knowledge from his own personal experiences to those up-and-coming SMMEs. Mr Reddy was both a mentor and a friend to the many youths who knew him personally,” commented Nadim.

Organisational Partnerships

The RR Foundation has developed a number of partnerships with a range of organisations. These include the Durban University of Technology, which serves as the Foundation’s intellectual base in KwaZulu-Natal. A number of the projects that are currently running predate the Foundation’s inception.

In Conversation with Nadim Aziz CEO RR Foundation

The partnership with the BRICS Youth Association will encompass education among the BRICS’s nations especially focusing on South Africa and the effects that this would have on the youth in our country. The partnership also touches on SMME development and cultural exchanges.

Another partnership is the Nelson Mandela Foundation – where the Foundation is engaging with the Leading like Mandela programme – the official leadership development programme of the organisation. “We are finding synergies with our flagship programme on Leadership for Freedom from Poverty and their programme,” said Nadim.

One of the other partnerships is with the World University Association for Community Development (WUACD), which is based in Indonesia and associated with Airlangga University.

The history of this RR Foundation project began in 2020. Mr Rajen Reddy was invited by the Indonesian Embassy in Pretoria to participate in a webinar, which had as its focus ethical leadership.

The webinar’s title was ‘Ubuntu values in the Hasta Brata story of Javanese Puppet Play’. Javanese Puppet Play, or as it is known, Wayang Kulit, is used in Indonesia as a form of storytelling, which is didactic in function and dates back to 10th century CE. Wayang Kulit translates to ‘Shadow Puppetry’.

“We discovered that there was much similarity between Ubuntu values, which are South African and Hasta Brata values, which are Indonesian. We saw a need to adopt this form of storytelling within a South African context, which could give a voice to the untold struggles and stories of our people of the past,” said Nadim.

Since the webinar a preparatory committee was formed, which included experts on Wayang Kulit from Airlangga Universitas Indonesia, Wayang Kulit Character Development from University of Bern Switzerland, and SMME Development, Arts & Drama and Community engagement from Durban University of Technology (DUT), as well as representatives of the RR Foundation.

The RR Foundation is in charge of facilitating the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to transfer this form of storytelling within a South African context. As such, the RR Foundation has brought the project to a practical stage of implementation. Through their publishing house, Nadim Books, they have published a book for free distribution entitled, The Art of Storytelling.

In Conversation with Nadim Aziz CEO RR Foundation

The Foundation engaged with the Durban International Book Fair at their inaugural event in 2022 where they launched The Art of Storytelling. This year the Foundation will be going on a drive to establish a few book clubs across communities in KwaZulu-Natal leading up to the Durban Book Fair for 2023. Part of this drive includes supplying schools and book clubs with book or things to read, which will then generate a competition amongst these youth to see, not only who reads the most, but who can produce the most outcomes in terms of writing, poetry, and performances.

“We will select some of the high performing outcomes to be published into another book, which will be promoted at the Durban International Book Fair. We would also like to invite some of those youth to perform at the book fair,” said Nadim.

RR Foundation’s Pillars The RR Foundation operates in the sphere of public diplomacy. Its three pillars are: · Education · Physical Health · Mental Health

Each of these pillars has a flagship project, which under education is the Rajen Reddy School of Leadership. Its core curriculum title is ‘Leadership for Freedom from Poverty of all Kinds’, which encompasses mental poverty, physical poverty, spiritual poverty and emotional poverty. The main target market for the core curriculum are SMMEs because they are in the position to give the most leadership to the communities in which they operate.

The Aurora Hospice for Children falls under the physical health pillar. Nadim explained, “We have a site in La Mercy on which we looking at developing and constructing the hospice. While this project may take two to three years for completion, we have identified key areas in which we can begin immediately as well as constituency of oncologists with whom we can work.”

Under the Mental Health pillar is the 24/7/ 365 call centre which is based on mental health and gender-based violence. “We found the need to established this call centre stemming out of the Covid-19 pandemic and the mental health issues that we had all faced as well as the state of gender-based violence especially within a South African context,” said Nadim. “We have also identified a constituency of psychologists with whom to work, who are based at the DUT Counselling and Health Unit.

Although the establishment of the 24/7/ 365 Call Centre may be a one-to-two-year project to open up to the wider community the RR Foundation has identified how they can begin immediately. Through the Aurora Hospice for Children, families who may need mental health support have been identified.

For more information Nadim Aziz , CEO of the RR Foundation

Yashna Sookoo, Fundraiser of the RR Foundation

Mbuso Dlamini, Marketing Manager of the RR Group


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