Our work at the Raymond Ackerman Academy

One of our South African non-profit clients is the renowned Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development, where we have offered workshops as part of their ‘life skills‘ curriculum.

The Raymond Ackerman Academy focuses on building business skills as well as developing soft skills and confidence in young aspiring entrepreneurs. Our life orientation curriculum is therefore an important component of the programme and it has been critical for us to get the right partners on board to facilitate the life orientation workshops.

CONTRACT has provided excellent workshops, which have made a significant difference to our students. The material is thought-provoking, the presentations are professional and the facilitators handle the workshops in a manner that shows care and encourages participation. We look forward to a continued relationship with CONTRACT.

Elli Yiannakaris, Director Raymond Ackerman Academy

 

In Germany and Europe, we work in the profit and non-profit sector, and provide value for our clients – whether the client is Greenpeace or Daimler Chrysler, Vodafone or the World Council of Churches. This diversity enriches and shapes our work, and we enjoy taking cultural impulses not only from one country to another, but also from one sector to the other.

In South Africa, we continue engaging with a diverse client portfolio. One of our non-profit clients is the renowned Raymond Ackerman Academy – we are thoroughly enjoying our work with our lively and fascinating target groups there, and it seems that our participants are enjoying working with us just as much.

Luana Vaveki, a previous student of the Academy, has now become our assistant and newest CONTRACT team member. Her description of the academy:

The Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development is an intense six month full-time programme offered to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds between the ages of 18 and 30. Approximately 30 people participate in the programme twice a year. The academy’s aim is to empower people who do not have the financial means or education to start their own business or to advance themselves professionally. This is done by providing entrepreneurial training and self-development that will enable them to better themselves and enter promising careers – be it in their own new business or in a company they will work for.

The Academy got its name from its founder Raymond Ackerman, who is one of South Africa’s most famous entrepreneurs (he is the founder and owner of the Pick n Pay supermarket chain). The Academy is sponsored by Mr Ackerman, as well as the City of Cape Town.

The academy opened its doors in February 2005 at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. The course focuses on business skills, such as marketing, operations, accounting, human resources, business numeracy, business planning and business writing; as well as life skills, such as self-leadership, communication, time management and career development. Students also attend workshops regarding innovation and creativity. Throughout the 6 months, students work in groups, developing their own business idea and creating a business plan.

MY EXPERIENCE at the Academy

It is difficult to put my experience of my time at Raymond Ackerman Academy into words. No words can ever cover what it was really like to go through the programme.

The Academy was fantastic, but it definitely was not what I expected. I thought it would be fun and easy to be at the Academy; that I would sail through the six months, and then leave. But this was not the case. In reality, it was a serious, intense and extremely challenging period in my life. It started with the selection process, which was very tough, we had to write convincing essays, give reference letters and come up with the creative business idea and then present it to the panel of judges. It was the first time I ever had to do anything like this.

While I was at Raymond Ackerman Academy (RAA), I realised that RAA is different from ordinary education. It focuses more on practical education, creative thinking and innovation. This has helped me to think out of the box and come up with fresh ideas of doing things. We also had wonderful and inspiring lectures, given by people who have their own successful businesses. Listening to them telling their stories inspired me, and it left me feeling that anything is possible if you believe it is.

My most precious moment at the Academy was meeting Mr Raymond Ackerman and presenting my business plan in front of him. To be in the same room with him is very humbling and is one of the things I will cherish about the time at the Academy. For all of us, the presentation for Mr Ackerman was something we were working hard towards and were very nervous about. Yet having completed the presentations, we felt it was one of the most inspiring experiences of our lives, and it was worth every effort! We left feeling that if we could present to Mr Ackerman, we could present to anyone!

CONTRACT at the Raymond Ackerman Academy

I enjoyed every part of my studies at the Academy, but the part I enjoyed the most was the life orientation workshops offered by CONTRACT. The CONTRACT workshops covered self-leadership, time management, career development, communication skills and presentation skills. CONTRACT’s lessons taught me skills I will use not only in my professional life, but in all other areas of my life, too. The learning activities we were given during the workshops had us engage intensively, and provided huge learning. CONTRACT’s style of engaging the learners and really having them participate was very refreshing, and kept us all on our toes.

The sessions made me aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I have noticed in my everyday life that my communication and time management have improved. My relationship with my family has improved along with my friends. The CONTRACT sessions left me equipped and feeling that I am a far better person that I have ever been – and that is a great feeling. I know it was similar for others in our class.

While I loved the CONTRACT workshops as a part of our Raymond Ackerman Academy education, I also realised that I want to be working with these kinds of topics in my career. Having learned about being proactive, I approached Judith from CONTRACT and asked if I could work for them. And here I am sitting now, in the CONTRACT office, writing this article… and being happy: happy to have attended the Academy, happy to have been part of CONTRACT workshops, and happy about the final result of it all: me being a part of the CONTRACT team.