March 9th, 2015

Alef Meulenberg, chairman Rhiza Foundation

Interview with Mr Alef Meulenberg, chairman Rhiza Foundation

Countries active: South Africa, Ghana & Brazil


1. How could you best describe your organization?

Rhiza is a registered non-profit organisation, our passions are education, economic development and primary healthcare within development areas. In South Africa this means that we wholistically develop township communities in Johannesburg & Cape Town. By combining education for children and skills development programmes for youth with primary healthcare facilities we enable historically disadvantaged communities to become financially independent of external aid.


2. What makes your products different from others?

We aim for quality over quantity in everything we do. For our beneficiaries it means that we always want to make a sustainable impact in their lives through education, giving them access to the economy and primary health/dental care. For organisations this means that they will benefit through their BBBEE scorecard and through marketing the impact they make in the lives of our beneficiaries.


3. What can customers expect from Rhiza?

They can expect to be part of projects that bring about a significant change in the townships of Diepsloot, Orange Farm, Cosmo City and Fisantekraal. We train youth in IT as well as in Fashion & Design, when a company decides to hire one of our students, they get a dedicated employee who will be monitored and trained by us the first year they are employed.


4. Why did you start working in the non-profit industry?

Back in the Netherlands I started working as a teacher from age 19 after finishing my business administration degree. I felt and still feel that education makes a big difference in the lives of people and that therefore access to quality education is key to the development of any community/ country.


5. Until now what have been your biggest obstacles whilst expanding to South Africa?

Our biggest challenge is finding land in our project areas. As the townships are so congested it becomes highly complicated to find land that is zoned accordingly. We also find the lack of a middle class a challenge as companies are often in big need of skills for the more senior positions.


6. How has SANEC helped with the positioning of Rhiza in South Africa?

SANEC has been a major help to Rhiza in 2014 as they initiated the contact between Rhiza and our now exclusive technical partner Philips SA. This contact resulted in a partnership between Rhiza and Philips regarding our Mobile Clinic initiative that will be launched in May 2015. SANEC therefor provides a great network of organisations that are operating in the Netherland and South Africa that can practically help you to expand your business.


Additional information for the SANEC network

Contact: / (local partner organisation)

Netherlands: Alkje Kenter, +31628785987

South Africa: Alef Meulenberg,, +27722796169