Andrew Barrett is convinced that how things are is not how things have to be. He believes that, as South Africans, we have a sad privilege in that it is relatively easy to make a significant difference in the life of someone who needs it. Which is exactly what he is doing.
As co-founder of the OLICO Foundation, which supports community-based organisations and grassroots social enterprises, Barrett works with two self- sustaining computer training centres in Gauteng to deliver low-cost, high-quality computer literacy training to the township communities of Ivory Park and Diepsloot.
The foundation also provides support to IkamvaYouth, — an academic support programme that helps township students to improve their exam results and gain access to tertiary education. The foundation established two IkamvaYouth branches in Gauteng and has played a significant role in IkamvaYouth’s scaling strategy to produce an all-too-rare example of a successful collaboration between two independent non- governmental organisations with common objectives.
Born and bred in Johannesburg, 33-year-old Barrett obtained an MA in philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand and a social entrepreneurship certificate at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. He is passionate about creating sustainable solutions that provide high- quality, affordable and accessible education to improve the lives of those who would otherwise remain trapped in the cycle of poverty. He draws strength from like-minded individuals who are similarly invested in making positive contributions and he is always inspired by those who are working hard to improve their circumstances, often against all odds.
It is no wonder then that some of his most gratifying moments include sharing in the joy of a family whose child is the first member to be accepted into university or learning that an ex-student has secured employment or landed a promotion because of new-found skills made affordable and accessible through the foundation’s centres.
He is joined by another Ikamvanite:
- Thobela Bixa (Former IkamvaYouth learner and now IkamvaYouth Board Member)
Last year, three ikamvanites were featured on the 2011 M&G list:
- Leigh Meinert (Chairperson of IkamvaYouth and MD of TSiBA Education)
- Julia de Kadt (Co-founder of IkamvaYouth KZN and PhD Fellow at Wits)
- Joy Olivier (Co-founder of IkamvaYouth)