Post Office, as Managing Director, during which time, and before joining Eduloan, she saw the passage of the Postbank Bill into law when it was adopted by Parliament in 2010. Another milestone at Postbank was growing the savings book to over a billion rand.
Eduloan provides access to student loans in South Africa, and will soon do so in the southern African region as well. Eduloan has financed over R3.5-billion in educational loans to over 680 000 students. Its credibility in the marketplace has led to key partnerships, thereby allowing access to study loans for employees as well as full-time students. Eduloan understands the real costs of tertiary education and offers study loans which not only cover course fees, but also additional expenses such as textbooks, registration fees and educational tools such as computers and tablets. In addition, Eduxtras, is its unique bursary-management tool which allows students to manage and allocate their bursary funds for specific needs such as books, accommodation, food and more, thus ensuring that the funds are spent appropriately.
Memela-Khambula has been with Eduloan for over two years and enjoys working for a smaller organisation as opposed to the Post Office, which has about 17 000 employees. “It has been an absolute privilege to work for Eduloan, where I manage 150 employees. My management team consists of 30 people, which is ideal when wanting to get everyone in a room to strategize,” she says. “We want to nurture our top talent. Even though the business used to be run on ‘family principles’, it has become an independent entity, which has necessitated changes. Our consulting team needs to ask the questions, ‘Where to from here?’ and ‘What has and has not worked in the past?’ to ensure that we offer a quality service and product offering to South Africa,” explains Memela-Khambula.
Eduloan has gone through a process of evaluating its product offering by engaging with past students in workshops where private and public further education and training (FET) needs have been discussed. “It was most encouraging to see the future generation engaging with the topic and asking questions on how certain actions would affect the economy, “ she says. “It is so important to have these sessions, as we think we know what the customer wants, but, in fact, we do not need perhaps three out of seven products we offer.” In the last 18 years, Eduloan has made great strides for a small company and despite its niche market. The largest loan which has been granted to date was R200 000 and the smallest was R500. Also, a loan was approved to a student to study abroad, something which Memela-Khambula enthusiastically mentions. Of the total loans being repaid, R18-million is paid through debit orders.
Eduloan is able to offer concrete, accessible and informative means of helping employers finance the continuing education of their workforce. It also prepares employees for the time- and lifestyle-management adjustments necessary when recipients of loans are studying and working simultaneously. The skills development opportunities that Eduloan provides for staff and their dependants will ultimately create improved relationships between staff and the business concerned. Partnerships between FETs and business have become essential for skills development in any sector and industry. “Eduloan hires graduates to assist with workplace skills development. Students are so green and ready for action, and it really creates an interdepartmental learning dynamic which is so interesting,” she says.
Memela-Khambula’s corporate social responsibility involvement currently includes, amongst other roles, serving as a director of International Partnerships for Microbiocides, a research-oriented nonprofit organisation which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention for women. She has also recently been nominated as President of the Girl Guides Association of South Africa and will be installed as President in April 2013. Moreover, Memela-Khambula is a member of the South African chapter of the International Women’s Forum and mentors young leaders through the Forum’s fellowship programme. She is inspired by female leaders such as Graça Machel. “She has a single-mindedness and focus, coupled with courage, which one can only admire.” Memela-Khambula also finds Pravin Gordhan a role model with his transformational leadership.” I find the infrastructure and foundations he has laid down for the country inspirational. More of our leaders need to think like him, as he is always setting out plans for his successors.”
Memela-Khambula is making a concerted effort to find the seemingly elusive work–life balance. “I sat with my planner, setting out all the activities for the year, and said that I had to plan for weekends where I do no work at all. I need to use that time to spend quality holidays and weekends away with my family and friends.”
“This process made me think about the many friends that I have. Friends are important, but what is also important is to become a ‘minimalist’ in many regards. It is imperative to learn how to prioritise one’s time and look to the relationships that do give you value. In the words of Robin Sharma, ‘you cannot love something that cannot love you back’,” she says.
In conclusion, Memela-Khambula asks the question, “How can we create deeper connections as women leaders?” She answers herself: “By sharing from the heart, and by forming these connections through growing and developing the new generation – not just the girls, but the boys too. Memela-Khambula is on a journey to deepen her growth spiritually. She believes that one cannot lead people if you cannot lead yourself. “It is important to think and to mentally challenge yourself, as well as help others to find the tools to think. All this will eventually create a better nation through innovation.”
Sustainability through Education
In the famous words of former President Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” That is precisely what Eduloan is doing – changing South Africa. Eduloan has empowered thousands of South Africans to unlock their potential and start realising their career dreams. Eduloan provides financial access to students through loans and various other payment schemes.
The Chief Executive Officer of Eduloan, Totsie Memela-Khambula, is also Chairperson of Memela Pratt and Associates and a Director at Cadiz. In 2006, Memela-Khambula joined Postbank, a branch of the
FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE | TITANS
by Shalane van Rensburg