The Beginning

After Francois Pienaar, the former Springbok captain announced that he would be leaving South Africa to join Saracens in London in 1996, The former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, invited him to lunch. They had a special relationship after meeting for the first time at Ellis Park on 24 June 1995, where Francois led his team to win the Webb Ellis Cup.

At the end of their lunch, Mandela had a final request for Pienaar:

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

Pienaar never forgot that promise.

And Then There Was MAD

In 2003, the Make A Difference Leadership Foundation was conceptualised 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 country.

The friend group decided to each make a financial contribution to provide financial support to a young person they had heard of. This scholar had leadership and academic potential but did not have the financial means to afford a good education. Since then, the organisation grew from just one scholar being provided comprehensive support to now more than 360 scholars.

Through the years, the organisation saw a few name changes. Still, our tagline stayed the same: “The leaders of tomorrow need our leadership today”.

Make A Difference Leadership Foundation was founded based on the belief that South Africa needs the next generation of leaders who have the opportunity to get a good education, who are mentored and whose leadership is based on a solid foundation of values and beliefs.