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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

CIDA Foundation UK

I’m going to 11 Downing Street’, I boasted to my husband, who is more interested in politics than I am. He also has a better knowledge of the geography of London. ‘That’s halfway down Whitehall, isn’t it?’ I checked.
I arrived at the black railings in plenty of time, full of self-importance, and wandered up to the security chap.
‘I’ve come for an event at 11 Downing Street,’ I said.
‘You’ll need to cross the road then, love’, he replied.
Self-importance diminished in record time, I crossed over Whitehall to the other black railings and started chatting to a fellow reception attender, while we waited to be allowed in.
After going through airport-type security checks, including presentation of passports, we were suddenly in Downing Street. There was number 10 in front. And there was number 11 next door. We stood there in awe, until a friendly policeman said, ‘Can I help you?’
‘We’ve come for an event at 11 Downing Street’, I said.
‘Well, go and knock on the door then.’
So we walked up to the door, but there was no need to knock, as the doorman must have spotted us coming and the door opened up wide as we trod on the doorstep.
The first thing that struck me was that the place could do with a bit of decorating. We were led upstairs, past framed original political cartoons, to the State Room. While drinking wine and nibbling canapés, I peeked out of the window and spotted the little Blairs’ garden toys and wendy house on the lawn.

CIDA’s history
CIDA (pronounced ‘seeda’) stands for Community and Individual Development Association. Its mission is to transform Africa’s youth through relevant education into tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurs. It was started five years ago when a young actuary, Taddy Blecher, left his lucrative city job to teach maths in Johannesburg townships. While his students started achieving university entrance-level results, they were too poor to study further. So Taddy decided to start a virtually free university offering a fully accredited BA in business administration to bright but poor South Africans 60% of places are reserved for women.
Since its start in 2000, CIDA has built a university that has given thousands of people new opportunities. Its graduates are proof of this: almost 300 are out in the workplace earning an estimated £2.8m a year.
According to Nelson Mandela, ‘CIDA has opened our eyes to new ways of thinking and supporting our young people in education. To see the energy and commitment of CIDA students, to experience their joy and hunger for knowledge, to feel their passion for building South Africa that makes me very happy indeed’.

The CIDA model
CIDA City Campus is in the heart of Johannesburg, occupying buildings in close proximity that were donated to CIDA by several companies that used to be headquartered there.
It costs £1,400 a year to sponsor a student’s education at CIDA City Campus. This covers tuition fees, books, food, and accommodation. Students carry out the university’s administration, which keeps the cost down and provides them with work experience. CIDA also keeps its costs low due to its close links to big business: many of the lecturers are active business professionals from its sponsoring companies.
Students have to run education and development courses back in their communities, and graduates are expected to support another student financially once they start working, enabling more young people to lift their families out of poverty.

The future
CIDA is only possible thanks to the generosity of donors. In time, CIDA hopes to grow its new endowment fund. The model is to achieve sustainability through graduate alumni and ongoing partnerships within ten years. In the meantime, CIDA needs to raise £1m each year to sustain and develop the CIDA model in South Africa.