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Tips from Rotary’s Annemarie Mostert on how to solve real problems with commitment and vision.

Tips from Rotary’s Annemarie Mostert on how to solve real problems with commitment and vision.

Written by Staff Writer

May 10, 2021

By Charndré Emma Kippie


Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, within its communities, and in the organisation itself. Rotary’s belief: Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. 

Annemarie Mostert is the Rotary International District Governor of District 9400, for the 2020 – 2021 period. Rotary covers Botswana, Eswatini, parts of Mozambique, and parts of South Africa. Annemarie was honoured by Rotary International, on 12 November 2016, as one of six Responsible Business Honourees at the Rotary Day, at the United Nations in New York. She also received the Chayil International Women of Influence Award in Toronto, Canada. Annemarie is a valued member of the Women Presidents Organisation (WPO), and is the CEO and founding member of the Sesego Foundation – Disrupting Poverty.


As the Rotary International District Governor of District 9400 for 2020 – 2021, what are your main roles?


District governors provide leadership, motivation, and guidance to Rotary clubs, under the general supervision of the Rotary International Board of Directors. We act as officers of Rotary International, and focus on achieving the global vision – in our own Districts.


How do you hope to make a difference in this role?


Each District Governor brings their own strengths and style. I have found that the most effective way to make a difference in this amazing District (which includes Botswana, Eswatini, Southern Mozambique and Northern South Africa) is to focus on kind leadership and fostering partnerships. In my efforts to position Rotary on the continent of Africa, I’ve used my time to tell the story of people of action. We recently had a historic opportunity to increase our reach, impact and participation through showcasing Rotary values and achievement during our Rotary Africa Centennial.

Each year, governors visit every Rotary club in the district (either in person or virtually) to draw attention to important Rotary issues, motivate Rotarians to participate in service activities and to personally recognise the outstanding contributions of Rotarians in the district. This gives us an opportunity to assist in strengthening existing Rotary clubs, organising new clubs, and promoting membership growth. We use this opportunity to also encourage awareness of The Rotary Foundation, a non-profit corporation that supports the efforts of Rotarians in over 200 countries.


Please could you tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?


I’ve always been a Social Entrepreneur.  I’ve enjoyed a leadership role in the community for many years, starting with using music as a bridge builder. I received a Paul Harris Fellow Recognition (highest recognition to an individual by Rotary Foundation) in 1996. This was my introduction to Rotary, and it wasn’t long before I was inducted as a member. I have been fortunate to occupy many leadership roles at university, in business and the communities I served.


Please tell us about some key takeaways from the recent Zone 22 Rotary Africa Centennial International Conference.


We as Africans carry the vision of “The African Century”; the belief or hope that the 21st century will bring peace, prosperity and cultural revival to Africa. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki is passionate about this idea, as is U2’s frontman Bono.

Can we make this come true?

Many of our friends around the world have heard the word “Ubuntu” and probably associate it with the free software company which today powers most of the internet. That company’s founder, Mark Shuttleworth, was the first African in space. And he took that word from the Nguni languages spoken by most of southern Africa. It means “humanity” but is often translated as “I am because you are”.

One of Africa’s greatest moral leaders, Archbishop Emeritus Mpilo Desmond Tutu, proffered that “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

“Service Above Self”, “One Profits Most Who Serves Best”; these are messages of Ubuntu.

This celebration emphasized again that Africa is stronger when united. We can picture a world where this continent, which has the world’s youngest population, will be able to prosper with ongoing support from us in Rotary.

That young generation of Africans will drive the world’s economic growth over the next 100 years. And that generation, as they prosper, will be the future of Rotary —contributing toward making the world a better place.


What 3 tips do you have when it comes to implementing solutions in your field?


There is so much to achieve in your short year as District Governor, and to make the most impact, I’d say focus on:

  • Serving with kindness and joy
  • Living in the moment
  • Focusing on peacebuilding in your homes, your communities, your countries



Have you read any books that have inspired or assisted you in your career thus far? 


I have benefitted from the inspirational works of a number of great authors. These would definitely be amongst my favourite:

  • My Own Liberator – Dikgang Moseneke
  • The book of Joy – His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • In our Lifetime – Walter & Albertina Sisulu
  • Conversations with Myself – Nelson Mandela
  • One Day in Bethlehem – Jonny Steinberg 
  • Babylons’s Ark – Lawrence Anthony


What is Annemarie Mostert’s ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line? 


When you see the face of someone who regains their sight for the first time in years, you can’t help but share their overwhelming happiness and gratification.  

We in Africa have been blessed to have the support of Rotarians around the world for projects which have positively impacted millions of lives; through End Polio Now and Rotarians For Family Health and Aids Prevention, through providing wells and clean drinking water, building libraries, protecting the environment and training African Rotary community Mediators – we continue to find solutions to the world most pressing challenges.



Outside of work, are you involved in any extracurricular activities and/or community outreach projects? 


I am a social entrepreneur, co-author and contributor for the Inspirational Women @ Work, a book launched in Oct 2003 featuring 50 inspirational women in South Africa and endorsed by well-known women and organisations; Mrs Graca Machel and Ms Oprah Winfrey amongst them.  I was awarded the Rotary International Public Relations Award of the World in 2005 and in Oct 2013 I received the Chayil Women of Influence Award in Canada, one of 3 women in the world. In Nov 2016, I received the Rotary International UN Award for Responsible Business Owners in New York – one of 6 business owners in the world. I am also a member of Chapter 1 Johannesburg of WPO (Women’s President’s Organisation for million-dollar Companies).  

Apart from serving as a Director on various Boards, I am the founding member and CEO of Sešego Foundation, a South African registered Non-Profit Organisation established in 2005 by volunteers to make a sustainable difference in the lives of women and children in Southern Africa. The ethos of Sešego is hinged on the spirit of ubuntu to bring together people willing to offer their time, skills and donations to help incubate and support new businesses in communities across Southern Africa.

Since 2005, over R41 million in-kind support and financial contributions have been raised and used to change the lives of millions of vulnerable people, predominantly women and children.


Who inspires you on a daily basis? 


My family – they are my cheerleaders.  Also, my business partner – Charlotte Khoza. 


What advice do you have for young women who aspire to work in your industry?


I have found that trusting in your struggle and having faith in the greater good lays a solid foundation. When we focus on creating – rather than competing our energies are used positively. It is so important to prepare and be prepared, but remember always to show up – and have fun!


*With loads more inside this exciting bumper edition, you won’t want to miss out on this! Check out the 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here

*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here






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