In 2011 I rented out my house in Oxford for a year and went to work as a volunteer at an exciting,

not for profit, entrepreneurial business school in South Africa, the Tertiary School in Business

Administration, TSiBA Education,  which has an urban campus in Cape Town and a rural campus in

Karatara in the Western Cape.  Six years later I am still a commuting volunteer and now also a

trustee of the UK Friends of TSiBA Education.


TSiBA’s mission is to offer a tertiary education to impoverished young people in order for them to

become successful and productive members of society. TSiBA scholarships cover full tuition and

accommodation fees and only require students to “Pay it Forward,” a central TSiBA philosophy,

which places an expectation on students to go back to their communities and make a meaningful

contribution to the betterment of these communities.


TSiBA’s unique Profile of Graduateness places attitude at the heart of a student’s development and

surrounds this with layers of knowledge and skills. TSiBA seeks to ensure that students are equipped

not only for further study and the working world, but are also provided with practical opportunities

to incubate and manage businesses while studying. Registered with the Department of Higher

Education and Training, TSiBA Education positions graduates for further graduate studies, a career in

the corporate sector, or the capacity to start their own business. Entrepreneurship and leadership

are integrated into all the programs with the aim of graduating young people with the ability to

contribute to the development and growth of South Africa within the global economy as well as

creating a career path for themselves, either in the formal economy or through starting their own



Access to tertiary education in South Africa is hampered by many factors, including the quality of

secondary education and financial constraints. Since its inception in 2004 TSiBA has awarded over

4,000 annual tuition scholarships to disadvantaged young people to participate in its accredited

academic programs. The offering of funded education must of course be underpinned by a financial

model which is sustainable. It is to this end that TSiBA has launched a range of commercial services

that honor, leverage and support TSiBA’s brand and commitment to social development. This has

resulted in TSiBA’s income from non-donor sources reaching 33 percent of total gross margin in

2015, with the goal of reaching up to 50 percent of total operational revenue by 2018.


TSiBA regards the provision of free educational opportunities for rural students to address historic

inequalities as a matter of national importance. This year 88 students from remote rural areas have

been enrolled into the CPBA (Certificate in Practical Business Administration) and HCBA (Higher

Certificate in Business Administration) programs at TSiBA Eden in Karatara and a record number of

Eden alumni were accepted into the BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) degree at TSiBA Cape

Town. This demonstrates the success the rural campus is achieving in bridging the gap from school

to university-level education with these two programs.


At the graduate level, TSiBA Eden now boasts seven Mandela Rhodes scholars, three Kofi Annan

Fellows and two Allan Gray Orbis Fellows who have gone on to study at the postgraduate level at

eminent public universities around the world. For a private university that has only been in

existence since 2004 this is no small achievement.


TSiBA Education is not only an entrepreneurial business school concentrating on the personal

development of each individual student alongside their business studies. With the rural Eden

campus in Karatara, it is demonstrating that developing awareness of green issues through student

involvement with the campus organic garden and water management system, alongside recycling,

the use of a solar oven, and solar heated hot water, has an enormous impact on students, leading to

their passionate commitment to sustainability projects. This has led to the Eden Campus winning a

number of sustainability awards as well as now partnering with an NGO, Conservation Global, to

start an Eco Club working with primary school children on campus.


My involvement with the development of the practical business program, the CPBA, and the

management of small business units on campus has confirmed my belief that, given skills and

opportunity, young people can successfully make the leap from poverty to meaningful employment

and financial security. In IsiXhosa, “tsiba” means to leap—making TSiBA Education an appropriate

and inspiring play on words as the name for the Tertiary School in Business Administration.

Penny Costley-White

Learn more about and make a donation to TSiBA Education  Act Now