South Africa Development Fund

Organizational Statement

The South Africa Development Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charitable foundation supported by donations from individuals and organizations committed to social change in South Africa. The South Africa Development Fund works in partnership with community-based organizations to provide financial and technical support to communities disadvantaged by decades of apartheid policies. All contributions are tax deductible.


By the mid eighties, political repression in South Africa had reached new heights. The apartheid government was involved in activities to suppress the democratic movement and in committing the myriad of human rights violations now coming to scrutiny under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Thousands of South Africans fled into exile,  and the international anti-apartheid movement was established.

The South Africa Development Fund was founded in 1985 by exiles living in the United States  to help the oppressed majority of their country.  They were joined in this effort by Americans active in the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements. Originally called “Fund for a Free South Africa, (FreeSA)”, the organization became a vehicle by which U.S. donors could show their solidarity with South Africans struggling for political and social justice.

Since its inception, the South Africa Development Fund has raised over $3 million for projects focusing on community and economic development, empowerment of women, children, education, elderly services, environmental issues, health, human rights and democracy building.  The organization further responded to the need for economic development in South Africa with the establishment of Shared Interest/Thembani International Guarantee Fund to help individuals and groups in poor communities gain access to credit.  SI/TIGF is now a successful and independent program.

Prior to changes that began in 1990 and culminated with the democratic elections of 1994, South Africa was isolated from much of the world community.  South Africans travelling to the U.S. lacked the usual resources through which to gain access to policy makers, media and the American public in general.  The South Africa Development Fund, with its unique link between the two countries, provided a venue for dialogue, exchange and public education.  In 1990, the organization became part of the national structure for Nelson Mandela’s historic tour of the U.S.


The abject poverty that characterizes so many communities in South Africa is an immense challenge to the new democracy and an obstacle to the national goal of a peaceful and prosperous society for all.  As in the past, the people of South Africa need support from friends and supporters in the international community.

The South Africa Development Fund is directed by South Africans who have both a vast knowledge of issues affecting  their country and strong ties to the United States.  For many years, the organization has maintained a link between concerned Americans and South African working to enhance economic and social justice.  The Fund welcomes donations large and small to continue this work.  All contributions are tax-deductible.

Grants Program

South African society has changed, but the legacy of apartheid policies will take many years to undo. Millions of people still live in makeshift shacks without electricity and clean water.  An entire generation grew up without a decent education resulting in widespread illiteracy and massive unemployment.

The South Africa Development Fund is working closely with a number of non-governmental organizations that treat social and economic rights as full human rights.  The programs listed below have been implemented to ensure that South Africans have the ability to fully participate in the democratic process, the right to a safe and healthy environment and the opportunity to pursue education and employment.

Democracy and Civil Society

South African National NGO Coalition conducted poverty hearings to give a voice to the poor and to influence future program development.  Ipopeng Democracy Project provides translation and training so that women can participate in public policy. Development Institute for Training Support and Education for Labour is helping to build a strong and effective labor movement.

Environmental Justice

Legal Resources Centre advocates for poor communities  to protect the environments in which people live and work.  South African Exchange Program on Environmental Justice  provides community groups with resources to address unhealthy environments. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance is fighting pollution and toxic waste.

Health and Human Rights

Ilitha Labantu provides shelter and services to battered women and has raised awareness of violence as a human rights issue. Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development provides shelter and counselling for abused women and conducts education and lobbying on gender issues.  Evaton Society for the Aged gives home care to the elderly in a shack community located in one of the country’s poorest townships. Phutadichaba operates a community-center and meals-on-wheels program in Alexandra township.  AIDSLINK operates programs to support change to destitute people who are HIV+.

Economic Development

Micro-Enterprise Network of NGOs works  to facilitate access to mainstream economy. Philisisizwe Association develops survival strategies for communities torn apart under apartheid resettlement policies. Thembani International Guarantee Fund backs loans from South African banks to poor communities. The Kusoma Program provided leadership and business training to enhance the capacity of rural women to operate successful businesses.


English Literacy Project trains teachers and develops educational materials. Fort Hare University operates a teacher training program for rural communities. Oukasie Development Trust is building a regional technology center to promote scientific education for young South Africans.  Artist Proof Studio teaches printmaking and papermaking to black artists.

Contact Details

555 Amory Street
Boston, MA 02130
tel: (617) 522-5511
fax: (617) 522-5591
e-mail:  [email protected]
contact: Judie Blair, Director


Themba Vilakazi, Chair
     Founding Director

Nomazizi Sokudela, Vice-Chair
     New York City Department of Education

Heeten Kalan, Treasurer
     Executive Director, South African Exchange Program on Environmental Justice

Mokubung Nkomo, Clerk
     Executive Director, Human Sciences Research Council
South Africa

Lyndall Hare
     Director, Charlotteans for a New South Africa

Xolela Mangcu
     Visiting Scholar, Kennedy School of Government


Saki Macozoma
     Managing Director, Transnet

Renosi Mokate
     Director, Centre for Reconstruction and Development,
     University of Pretoria

Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane
     Advisor, Minister of Telecommunications

Mfundi Vundla
     Chair, Independent Producers’ Organization


Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Barbara Arnwine
     Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
     Under the Law

Rev. William Sloan Coffin

Johnnetta B. Cole
     President Emerita, Spelman College

Ronald Dellums
     Former member, U.S. House of Representatives

Jerry Dunfey
     President, New England Circle

Paul Epstein
     Associate Director, Center for Health and Global
     Environment, Harvard Medical School

Danny Glover
     Actor; U.N. Goodwill Ambassador

Nadine Gordimer
     Author; U.N. Goodwill Ambassador

Henry Hampton
     Executive Director, “Eyes on the Prize”

Willard Johnson
     Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gretchen Kalonji
     Professor, University of Washington

Zakes Mokae

Prexy Nesbitt
     Consultant on Southern Africa

Maxine Waters
     U.S. House of Representatives

Alfre Woodard

Robert Zevin