The Beginning

It started with a cup of tea.

The former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, invited Francois Pienaar to visit him in his office at the Union Buildings in Pretoria; where they spoke about a lot of things, including the World Cup that saw the former Springbok captain receive the Webb Ellis Cup from the president after their win at Ellis Park on 24 June 1995.

After Francois announced that he would be leaving South Africa to join Saracens in London in 1996, Mandela invited him to lunch and had a final request before his departure.

“Francois, you promise me you will come back one day, and you’ll make a difference.”

And Then There Was MAD

Twelve years later, in 2003, the Make A Difference Leadership Foundation (MAD) was founded while Pienaar was having lunch with a group of friends. He had just returned from the UK, and at some point, the conversation turned to South Africa and how he and his friends wanted to do something to help build a bright future for our beloved South Africa.

The friend group decided to each make a financial contribution which would be used to provide financial support to a young person they had heard of, with potential but who didn’t have the financial means to afford a good education.

Through the years, the organisation saw a few name changes, but our tagline stayed the same: “The leaders of tomorrow need our leadership today” because this is why the organisation was founded, and that’s what kept us going throughout the years—the belief that South Africa needs the next generation of leaders who had the opportunity to get a good education, who was mentored and whose leadership is based on a solid foundation of values and beliefs.