Jacob Lief was only 21-years-old when he first visited the townships of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It was 1998 and the country was transitioning out of apartheid. With a college degree in his back pocket, Jacob cultivated a team of other inspired individuals and together they founded Ubuntu Education Fund with the hope of giving Port Elizabeth’s youth a more promising future.
Jacob’s founding story is one of grit, perseverance, and personal development. His journey of growing Ubuntu into a world-renowned leader in education is marked with many monumental challenges and milestones—including a pivot that completely changed the organization’s funding model, seven years into its operations.
Today, Jacob is a celebrated thought leader with a contagious vision for a better philanthropic sector—one that allows nonprofits to dream big and execute beyond the traditional walls of restricted funding and antiquated benchmarks of success.
In this episode, Jacob shares:
- What it was like to turn down seven-figure funding from USAID
- Key facets of the Ubuntu internal culture and how that culture has kept his core executive team together for 13 years
- His personal growth as a CEO
- Why he thinks culture is the most dangerous word in English dictionary
- The mentor who pushed him to take care of himself first