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"Success does not come from ideas, it comes from ideas that are executed," says Innovator, Mabutho Mthembu.

It was when Mabutho Mthembu was a trainee at KPMG in Johannesburg that the idea was formed for the Youth Managers Foundation (YMF), an organisation that develops young leaders through mentorship and career guidance. 

Originally from Nkandla, in rural KwaZulu-Natal, Mthembu’s transition to Johannesburg to study accounting, and then to a major company, was tough. Meeting people from privileged backgrounds who were confident and spoke better English lowered his self-esteem and belief in his abilities. 

As he worked his way up to senior tax manager, he realised that everybody has the same potential, but that many young South Africans face too many structural challenges to unlock theirs. He cofounded the YMF in 2008 and, after five years of self-funding, secured sponsorships from several big companies and space in KPMG’s Johannesburg office.

The foundation hosts an annual Youth Leadership Summit where high school students from rural and township schools engage with students from affluent schools and people from the private and public sector. YMF has 15 mentors in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal who hold quarterly seminars with young leaders at their “adopted” partner schools to implement improvement programs.

In 2015, Mthembu studied at Rutgers University in the United States for six weeks on the Mandela Washington Fellowship. 

Find Mthembu on Twitter: @MabuthoMthembu