South African businesswoman takes the helm of women-led philanthropy group

Melinda Gates, Precious Moloi-Motsepe, and others join an event discussing the future of the Maverick Collective. Photo by: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NEW YORK — An effort by the global health NGO Population Services International to “redefine what it means to be a philanthropist” has named a new co-chair and in so doing has broadened its geographic scope.

South African businesswoman and philanthropist Precious Moloi-Motsepe takes over for Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will help lead the Maverick Collective. The women-led philanthropy group focuses on improving the health of girls, many of whom are in Africa.

“Our issues on the continent are unique,” Moloi-Motsepe, who is co-chair of the Motsepe Foundation and chair of African Fashion International, told Devex. “People should not just want to do work in different countries without understanding the cultural nuances on the ground and African philanthropists are in a better position to understand the on-the-ground context, so when they partner with others they are best able to advise on how to deal with specific issues.”

Melinda Gates approached Moloi-Motsepe to succeed her and she readily accepted, interested in the opportunity to give differently.

“My feeling is that among the Giving Pledge members there is a new way of doing things,” she said. “No longer are philanthropists just giving checks out.”

Moloi-Motsepe said she still needs to get a better sense of what has and has not worked as well with the Maverick Collective model.

“Look, I’m also still in the process of learning about philanthropy,” she said. “But I had a few conversations with Melinda, and I came to understand that a lot of the Maverick members are just coming into philanthropy, so I am looking forward to helping them think things through.”

Some of her goals include working for the group to be more data driven and to bring more technology into the work that it does, while helping PSI in its effort to engage more philanthropists on the African continent.

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    Catherine Cheney

    Catherine Cheney is a Senior Reporter for Devex. She covers the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology and innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And she frequently represents Devex as a speaker and moderator. Prior to joining Devex, Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University, worked as a web producer for POLITICO and reporter for World Politics Review, and helped to launch NationSwell. Catherine has reported from all over the world, and freelanced for outlets including the Atlantic and the Washington Post. She is also the West Coast ambassador for the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit that trains and connects journalists to cover responses to problems.