Brenthurst Foundation

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The Brenthurst Foundation is a Johannesburg-based think-tank established by the Oppenheimer family in 2004 to support the Brenthurst Initiative in seeking ways to fund African development,[1] and to organize conferences on African competitiveness.[2] Its director is Greg Mills.


The Foundation was created to build on the Oppenheimers' Brenthurst Initiative of August 2003. The Initiative was designed to instigate a debate in South Africa around policy strategies to achieve higher rates of economic expansion. Greg Mills then started the Foundation from this base and with a generous budget that he used to get opinions from local and international sources. The Foundation now has a wider African focus and aims to find ways to draw the investment needed for "continental regeneration and prosperity".[1] The organization intends to make a worthwhile contribution to economic growth in Africa by creating an environment conducive to positive economic change in order to strengthen the importance of Africa in the global market. It works to set up government policy platforms for economic development through organizing high-level governmental dialogues, supporting economic and political research on topical and important issues, and disseminating practical policy advice to relevant actors. The organization has been described as a frontier of knowledge for strengthening Africa’s economic performance.

The Foundation has been active in a range of roles in various countries across the continent, such as their involvement in a Presidential Advisory Committee on the Economy set up by former President Joyce Banda of Malawi.,[3] their collaboration with the Tony Elumelu Foundation of Nigeria to investigate enterprise and private sector development,[4] and other government secondments and/or engagements in Rwanda, Liberia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Mali, Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana, Somaliland, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

The Foundation also organizes regular policy study-tours for its African partners to a number of countries. These aim to expose African opinion-formers to development 'best practice'. These trips have included participation by officials up to the prime-ministerial level, and incorporated meetings with current and former heads of state. Countries visited in the past include: Vietnam (2007, 2009, 2011), Singapore (2008 and 2009), Cambodia (2011), Panama (2009), Colombia (2009 and 2014), Costa Rica (2009), El Salvador (2009) and Morocco (2008).[5]


Dr Greg Mills (PhD) is the Director of the Brenthurst Foundation. Dr Mills has been a special advisor to a number of African and other governments, and is widely published on international affairs, development and security, a regular newspaper columnist in South Africa and further afield, and the author of the best-selling books 'Why Africa is Poor – And what Africans can do about it' (Penguin Books: 2010) and, with Jeffrey Herbst (President: Colgate University), 'Africa's Third Liberation' (Penguin Books: 2012). In 2008 he was deployed as Strategy Advisor to the President of Rwanda. From 2007-12 he directed the Secretariat to the Presidential International Advisory Board in Mozambique, and since 2012 the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Economy of Malawi. In 2006 he was on assignment in Kabul, Afghanistan as head of the International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) Prism strategic analysis group, and was seconded to ISAF in Kandahar also with Prism in 2010, and to HQ ISAF again in Kabul in 2012. In July 2013, he was appointed as a member of the African Development Bank's High Level Panel for Fragile States. Based on his peace-building experiences, in 2011 he jointly edited, with General Sir David Richards, 'Victory Among People : Lessons from Countering Insurgencies and Stabilising Fragile States' (2011: Royal United Services Institute), and in 2013 published 'Somalia—Fixing Africa's Most Failed State' (Tafelberg) with the Atlantic Council's Peter Pham and Australian counter-insurgency specialist David Kilcullen. The grandson of the pre-war Grand Prix racer Billy Mills, and himself a driver on the African Le Mans 24-hour team, he has published several titles on motorsport history, most recently 'Agriculture, Furniture and Marmalade: Southern African Motorsport Heroes' (Panmacmilllan: 2013). Dr Mills' latest book, published by Picador Africa (Pan Macmillan South Africa) is entitled 'Why States Recover: Changing Walking Societies into Winning Nations- from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe'.[6]

Dr Terence McNamee is the Deputy Director of The Brenthurst Foundation. Dr McNamee previously served as Director of Publications at The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) in London and Editor of its flagship publication, the RUSI Journal. He was educated at universities in Canada and the United Kingdom. In 2002, He received a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics. The subject of his doctoral thesis was South Africa's nuclear weapons programme. He has been a writer and consultant on various projects in Africa in the areas of peace-building, post-conflict reconstruction and economic development. In 2006 he was a visiting expert to the Prism Group, ISAF IX, based in Kabul, Afghanistan. From 2008-09 he was the Delegate to Commissioner Dr Greg Mills on the Government of Denmark's Africa Commission and assisted in the drafting of the Commission's Final Report, Realising the Potential of Africa's Youth. He has completed country-level analyses for governmental and commercial clients on issues ranging from citizenship and immigration policy to security sector reform, and is published in academic journals and newspapers, including The New York Times and The Financial Times. In 2012 he authored the Foundation's study of Chinese small businesses in southern Africa, entitled 'Africa in their Words: A Study of Chinese Traders in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia and Angola'. Other recent publications include War Without Consequences: Iraq's Insurgency and the Spectre of Strategic Defeat([Editor], 2008 and the recently published On the Faultline: Managing tensions and divisions within societies (Profile Books, 2012, co-edited with Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst). As part of the Foundation's Presidential Advisory Committee on the Economy of Malawi (PACE), he served as an Advisor to the former President. McNamee is also writer and historian of the acclaimed photographic history of the twentieth century, CENTURY: One Hundred Years of Human Progress, Suffering, Regression and Hope (Phaidon Press, 1999, conceived and edited by Bruce Bernard), which won the British Book Awards for Illustrated Book of the Year, France Info's Special Award for Photojournalism and a Merit Award from the New York Art Director's Club. For the same publisher he was also writer (with Anna Rader and Adrian Johnson) on DECADE: Transition and Turmoil (2010, edited by Eamonn McCabe)

Leila Jack is the Project Administrator at the Brenthurst Foundation. She holds a BA Honours from the University of Durban-Westville and a MA (International Relations) from the University of Stellenbosch. Prior to joining the Foundation she worked at the then University of Natal's International Office before joining the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) as the Programme Manager and Assistant to the National Director. She moved to the UK in 2001 on a working holiday and returned to SAIIA in 2004 where she took up the post of Programme Manager. She was subsequently promoted to Director of Operations. She took up her present post in August 2005.

Ghairoon Hajad is the Office Manager at The Brenthurst Foundation. A native of Lenasia, Gauteng, she took up her present position in April 2013. Ghairoon holds a Diploma in Travel and Tourism from Birnam Business School and has over ten years of experience in the Travel Industry. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a Travel Specialist for a number of travel companies, including American Express and Ocean Air Travel. She also has a keen interest in the restaurant industry and for over four years, she ran 'Ocean Basket', a seafood restaurant she and her husband setup.

Wendy Trott is the current Machel-Mandela Intern at the Brenthurst Foundation. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in International Development at Sciences Po in Paris, France. Wendy was born and grew up in South Africa before going to the University of Georgia (UGA) in the United States where she competed on the Women's Swimming and Diving team, winning 3 National Championship Titles and Academic All American Honors. Wendy graduated summa cum laude with honors in 2012, receiving a BA in International Affairs and a minor in French, and was named the SEC Female Student-Athlete of the Year as well as one of the NCAA Top 10 Student-Athletes. During her time at UGA, Wendy volunteered at the Center for International Trade and Security (CITS) researching nuclear policies and profiles in support of their work to manage the movement of dual-use technologies and sensitive materials around the world. During her swimming career, Wendy represented South Africa at two Olympic Games, in 2008 and 2012, and won a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. After retiring from swimming, she briefly attended the University of Cape Town studying conflict in Africa, international political economy and South African politics, before transferring to Sciences Po in France. While at Sciences Po, Wendy has served as the coordinator of a group research project in association with the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) that has mapped the climate change policies of various countries in preparation for the COP21 summit to be held in Paris in 2015. Wendy took up her position at the Brenthurst Foundation in August 2014.

Advisory Board

The Brenthurst Foundation Advisory Board comprises a number of eminent and notable government officials, academics, and business leaders. It is chaired by Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President of Nigeria, and Patrick Mazimhaka, the former Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission is the Chairman Emeritus. Other members of the Board include Jonathan and Jennifer Oppenheimer, Erastus Mwencha, Jeffrey Herbst and {Rory Stewart]].


The Brenthurst Foundation benefits from the knowledge and expertise of a wide range of scholars, policy-makers and experts from all over the world. They range from musician Johnny Clegg to Juan Carlos Echeverry, the former Minister of Finance and Public Credit for Colombia.


The Brenthurst Foundation's activities are focused in three areas: encouraging key decision-makers and experts to share experiences and insights at private meetings and seminars; delivering relevant, practical policy advice to governments; and generating new thinking and thought-leadership to address Africa's development challenges.

At the invitation of African governments, the Foundation works in the full spectrum of countries: from those emerging from conflict to those diversifying their economic activities. Founded with the specific aim of tackling not only the key 'what to do' questions but, in particular, the more difficult challenge of 'how to do it', the Foundation often collaborates with both African and non-African organisations in order to identify and share international best policy practice, and then to turn this into effective, implementable policy.

The Foundation's three core areas of activity are:

– Events: encouraging key decision-makers and experts to share experiences and insights at private meetings and seminars

– Policy advice: delivering relevant, practical policy advice to African governments and their international partners

– Thought leadership: conducting research and generating new thinking to address Africa's development challenges.

Tswalu Dialogue[edit]

The annual Tswalu Dialogue meeting series was established in 2002 as a premier African forum to discuss issues of concern to continental development and security. Hosted by Jonathan and Jennifer Oppenheimer at the Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert, the Tswalu Dialogue has involved active collaboration between a variety of international partners. Attended by a mix of policy-makers, analysts, academia, civil and military personnel, media and businesspeople, the Tswalu Dialogues ceased being an annual event in 2010 and are now held up to three times a year.[7]


  1. ^ a b Williams, David (2004-11-19). "BRENTHURST JOB FOR MILLS". Financial Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  2. ^ Fabricius, Peter (2007-09-12). "Competitiveness is first priority, Africans declare". Business Report. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  3. ^ "Malawi at 50". Brenthurst Foundation. Retrieved 2014-08-29. 
  4. ^ "Africans Investing in Africa: building prosperity through intra-African trade and investment". 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2014-08-29. 
  5. ^ "Policy Advice". The Brenthurst Foundation. Retrieved 2014-08-29. 
  6. ^ "Join Greg Mills for the launch of 'Why States Recover at Kalk Bay Books with Luisa Dias Diogo and Johnny Clegg". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 2014-08-29. 
  7. ^ "The Tswalu Dialogue". The Brenthurst Foundation. Retrieved 2014-08-29. 

External links[edit]