Basie van Wyk

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In Conversation With Basie van Wyk

We had a chat with Basie van Wyk, Chief Executive Officer of Badisa, as he looks back on his first year with the organisation and also his future dreams for Badisa for the next 21 years.

The door to the future is proverbially unlocked as soon as you turn 21. What future dreams do you have for Badisa for the next 21 years?

In the short term, I would like to look at the sustainability of all our 134 programs at all levels – not only financial sustainability, but also in terms of our service delivery. Over the long term, I would like to expand our footprint in the areas we work in, to grow more in line with need as it increases. I would like to expand in areas where we are not so involved, especially in the Eastern Cape where we can start developing interesting projects and programs together with our Uniting Reformed Church congregations.

Let’s talk about the next chapter for Badisa – the next 21 years. In your opinion, what are the keys to unlocking Badisa’s success for this new chapter?

I would like to highlight three points:

  1. Innovative thinking – we need to think innovatively and out of the box. We need to think differently about funding alternatives and about our service delivery options. In this way, I think we will also position ourselves favourably for the future.
  2. Greater community involvement – we serve a total community and the ownership that the community takes of the projects and programs we are engaged in is critical to its success. And there, too, we are very well equipped to facilitate greater community involvement through our two founding churches and the 500 congregations we have access to.
  3. Partnership and building partnerships – our future lies in being able to do more by doing it in partnership, not only with other NGOs and civil society organisations, but also with businesses. Together we can do so much more.

Every leader faces challenges that require them to find a way around closed doors. Tell us about a difficult situation you encountered and how you managed to find the right key to overcome it.

I started at Badisa without any experience in the social sector. Initially, it was important for me to gain trust, and I tried to do this through openhearted conversation. I visited some of our programs to see what was happening on the ground level and I also had many in-depth discussions with colleagues at the management program. I believe these conversations have created a basis of trust and a starting point for us to move forward.

Is there something or someone who unexpectedly pleasantly surprised you during your first year at Badisa? If so, please share the story with us.

What stands out to me is our passion for communities and especially vulnerable people. I have experienced this with all 3500 of our employees and with all 2500 of our volunteers. There are so many stories of hope in our organisation and it makes me go home with a smile every night.

I would like to share one story that touched me in particular: I had been at Badisa for about two months when, at a work function of my wife’s, I ran into one of her colleagues who had taken a little girl into foster care through our Magdalena Huis program. Coincidentally, it was two years later and she only then heard that she had received approval to adopt the little girl. I could personally see the difference in how this little girl developed from someone who could remember all the trauma she went through to her development into a carefree and happy child. It made me realise the difference we can make in people’s lives.

What makes Badisa unique? What makes you proud to be associated with Badisa?

Our vision to be a neighbour to everyone in need is what attracted me to Badisa. I see in practice how this is really lived out under difficult circumstances and it makes me particularly proud to be part of the organisation.

As a leader, are there specific doors (opportunities) that you intend to open for Badisa in the future?

When I started working at Badisa, someone commented that Badisa is one of the best kept secrets. I would like to see a greater awareness of what we do and our incredibly beautiful stories, because I believe that in doing so, we will get greater community involvement and I believe that through this we will also be able to get better cooperation and form partnerships with other organisations or businesses. Lastly, we can also become much more attractive to donors specifically.

Is there something you’d like to build on that you started in your first year? Or maybe you have plans to implement something new in the future? If so, how will this benefit Badisa?

I would like to further establish the culture that Badisa is a similar organisation to any other commercial entity, which is run on good business principles, including good corporate governance. I believe that if we manage the organisation in such a way that we will also be attractive to partners and potential donors. Badisa is no different from a commercial organisation – besides the fact that, where the profits of the commercial organisation go into the pockets of the shareholders, we choose to use such profits or surpluses for the benefit of vulnerable people in our communities

As you look back on your first year as Chief Executive Officer, what (and who) are you specifically grateful for and why?

There are many blessings that I am grateful for, but I think for my first year it is the support and acceptance that I have experienced within all levels of the organisation. I can especially single out the management board of Badisa, the executive management team and then all our staff and volunteers who received me with so much warmth and who cooperate in the process of establishing an organisation that exists to help our neighbours.

How can people join hands with Badisa and help make the next 21 years successful?

There are so many ways to get involved in what we do in communities. People can get involved as a volunteer in one of our programs, as a potential donor, or even a Badisa ambassador. I believe that by working together we will be very successful in the communities we serve.