Raising money for women & children around the world


Focused initially in northern South Africa, the Sumbandila vision, through its educational scholarship and mentorship program, is to transform the lives of children in developing nations with exceptional potential and to create entrepreneurs and leaders who make significant contributions to society and their own communities. The Sumbandila mission is to provide these deprived children, mostly from rural communities, with a high-quality secondary education alongside a strong mentorship programme, nurturing both leadership potential and the entrepreneurial spirit whilst encouraging social responsibility and awareness. Their potential is developed through both academic education and practical experience, empowering them with the belief and the ability to make a difference. Both Western and African values are encouraged – “Service in Leadership” and “Ubuntu: becoming a person in and through other people.”

Hidden in the rural villages of Limpopo Province you will find the real face of poverty in South Africa. They are the old dumping grounds for people who didn’t fit the needs of the Apartheid economy, and to a very real extent, they still serve the same purpose. It is the old, the jobless, the young frustrated school-leavers and the children who live here. These children are hungry, very often literally so, but more so for the opportunity to make life different – for themselves, their families and their villages. Sumbandila exists to help some of them get there.

The Trust seeks out the brightest and most determined of these children as they complete primary school and offers them support for their entire secondary education. For the select few, these full scholarships cover tuition fees in the best private schools, housing in dedicated hostels, mentoring, counseling, clothing, school books, and all food and other basic daily needs. Computers and extra books are also provided for, as well as educational software and additional lessons. In addition, through a partnership with the Study Trust which has a long and proven recording this field, there is an outlier programme for a few more of these bright children who were unable to gain one of the precious few full scholarship places, providing financial support for Saturday and Vacation Schools, including books and transportation. There are currently 163 children supported by Sumbandila, 28 full-time residential programme students and 136 in the outlier programme.


We had a chat with founder, Leigh Bristow to find out a little more about what Sumbandilla is all about, and how working with Cash & Rocket has helped to make a difference in the lives of many.

As founder and director of the Trust, Leigh is a Science graduate has taught in Kenya, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Her own family has a long and intimate historical association with the region and its people. She was the founding Head of Ridgeway College and served as the College’s Director until 2014.

“We are empowering the brightest and most resilient children by giving them access to education and networks.”

Hi Leigh, tell us a little about how Sumbandila started.

In 2006, I met a young girl called Criselda Sebone, who was the daughter of one of my husband’s cattle laborers on the farm. She made me realize that there were extraordinary children in deep rural villages that had ambition and ability but no opportunity to get into university, and into the workplace, because of an impoverished educational system that poverty condemned them to. She inspired me to start Sumbandila, and we started looking for exceptional children from extremely poor rural families with “grit and zest”. We help them get a world-class education, get funding for the university, and ultimately help them into the workplace.

You build an education for so many children. Could you share with us one of the success stories from your new schools?

To see an orphan from a rural village, now working for a Fortune 500 company, with a Masters degree in Risk Management from one of the top universities in Africa. Then you know that your program is succeeding. We have children in Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Teaching, Accounting in all the top universities in South Africa. We are empowering the brightest and most resilient children by giving them access to education and networks.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job? 

The most rewarding thing about this job is watching young people who have the determination and drive already built into them, giving them the opportunity to realize their extraordinary potential, and seeing them fly, believing that they will eventually affect change in our country, and hopefully in our continent.


You’ve been working closely with Cash & Rocket for some time now. How much has Cash & Rocket supported the work you do at Sumbandila? 

Cash & Rocket after three incredible events in Europe, raised huge amounts of money for Sumbandila. They remain our largest donor to date.

Why Cash & Rocket?

We currently have over 300 children in our system, at school and university. The Cash & Rocket events are ingenious in the way they combine fashion and high-end brands with philanthropy and empowerment and we are privileged to be part of it.

What do you hope Sumbandila will achieve by 2019, with the help of Cash & Rocket’s US Tour? 

Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”. We believe that educating these extraordinary children and launching them into the economic mainstream, will ultimately effect crucial change in our country, and in our continent.

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