Visionaries In Africa is a global network creating an enabling environment for volunteering in the African continent.
In 1995, Nadine Naidoo experienced the spirit of Ubuntu, (that ” I am because you are”) when she led groups of volunteers of different race groups and social backgrounds to serve in an African township in Grahamstown and used the local media to document the stories, the transformation and the digity of the volunteers and the “visionaries” who had been keeping communities together throughout apartheid.

In that first year of democracy, Nadine realised that media could be used as a powerful tool for rebuilding the new South Africa by showing South Africans to themselves, in a way that defied the stereoptypes of Apartheid, and replaced the hatred and fear, with a spirit of compassion and forgiveness. She also experienced how her action in uniting diverse individuals in service led by a common vision, was the simplest way to empower South Africans to see the divine in each other, and see the divine in themselves.
As the earth fell out from under her feet, Nadine changed professions, from science to media and education and embraced her vision and new-found purpose to help people discover their true nature through service of others – with media to strengthen and reflect that humanity.
In 2000, having launched ki Media, as a woman-led television production company dedicated to using media for social change, Nadine applied the ‘new media’ (internet) that had just reached South Africa and with a team of volunteers, launched the pioneering African web-portal www.volunteer.co.za to serve as a volunteer clearinghouse accelerating the reconstruction and development of the “rainbow nation”. The site became the official country site for the United Year of the Volunteer (2001) and Nadine was selected to share her innovation with 108 countries in Geneva. She returned to South Africa with the support of 35 African country representatives wanting to feature their volunteer opportunities on the www.volunteer.co.za platform.
In 2002, Nadine launched Visionaries In Africa Foundation to expand the ‘human network” that would power the growing digital network. VIA Foundation is a registered South African non-profit organisations (NPO) and together with ki Media, serves as a social enterprise.
In 2003, selected to anchor and direct for a national weekly magazine programme, Nadine conceptualised and launched a volunteer feature called Spirit In Action, which ki Media co-sponsored to enable “visionaries in africa” from around the country to tell their stories and inspire audiences to join as volunteers. From 2003-2008 the series gave the social enterprise and voluntary sector leaders a platform to share their social impact and volunteer opportunities with the country as part of South Africa’s moral regeneration programme.
Since 2006, when knowledge of the harm caused by internet, mobiles and media became evident in the abuse of children, whom the VIA Foundation is meant to serve as a key beneficiary, Nadine led ki Media and VIA Foundation’s advocacy role. She represented both organisations in Parliament in 2007 at the Public Hearings on the Film and Publications Amendment Bill (FPB AB), and produced a media campaign to mobilise public participation in the hearings to prevent the abuse of children through media and technology.
In 2008 she convened the FPB Amendment Bill Coalition representing more than 6 million South Africans to support the Bill and the prohibition of pornography on public television. The Bill was finally signed into law by the SA President including the amendment proposed by VIA Foundation and ki Media calling for financial institutions to share criminal liability for allowing the use of payment systems for the trade in child sexual abuse images. The prohibition on broadcast of pornography as a violation of childrens rights, was removed under pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and South African National Press Forum (SANEF) – even though the legal counsel made available to the Presidency and supported by the Coalition explictely proved the consitutionality of the amenment in order to harmonise media regulatory laws with sexual offence laws which clearly pronounce the exposure of children to sexually explicit content as criminal.
Nadine has just completed an extensive global study at Duke University Fuqua School of Business to scale up the work of the VIA Foundation and replicate successful interventions in child protection, to ensure that the VIA Foundation’s work is safer by design.
In 2010, Ashoka Innovators for the public assisted Nadine in incorporating the organisation in the US to support the work of the VIA Foundation pan-Africa with volunteer recuitment and financial aid from the US to Africa and media production and dissemination from Africa to the US and global markets.

Nadine Naidoo
Kristen Atwood
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