Ntefeleng Nene recently joined Bridgespan’s Johannesburg office as a partner. She has 20 years of experience in organisational capacity building, leadership development, grants management, strategy consulting, and social impact. At Bridgespan, Ntefeleng leads impactful work in both the nonprofit and philanthropy spaces. Prior to Bridgespan, she oversaw Accenture’s social impact practice, Accenture Development Partnerships, in Africa.
How did your journey in the social sector begin?
Since I was in school, I knew that I wanted to work with and help people. That’s what I remember telling my dad when he asked me what I wanted to do after matriculating. He suggested exploring social work, and that’s what I ended up doing. Around the time I was completing my degree in social work, HIV was becoming a devastating health issue in Africa, and being a social worker was hard as there were dozens of orphans due to HIV. I decided to pivot from clinical social work to public health, getting a master’s degree in public health law. I started out in community development projects, moving from small community-based organisations to more seasoned international NGOs, providing technical assistance and capacity building to nonprofits in Africa. I really enjoyed that, as it not only equipped me with experience in the space but also allowed me to interact with donors and ministries of health across the continent. Social impact and doing work that matters drive me.
Within the sector, what issues are you most passionate about?
I’ve been exposed to different industries in consulting, but global health always draws me in. I’m grateful that I began working in that space. I also care deeply about the intersection of equity with public health. I’m passionate about working on bringing the two together. In recent years, I have developed a passion for engaging in the kind of work that contributes to Africa driving its development agenda and leaning more into what that means pragmatically, through working with nonprofit organisations and philanthropies.
What brought you to Bridgespan?
Before joining Accenture, I had a moment of reflection and felt I needed to do something more challenging, given the development sector experience I had. I got into strategy and consulting in the health and public services business at Accenture and loved it, but one year in, I learned they had a social impact practice. I remember telling my boss at the time that that’s what I wanted to do. Coming to Bridgespan revalidated that feeling.
I had another reflective moment towards the end of last year, where I felt that I needed to do something more aligned with my values and to have an opportunity to spend more time with my two teenage girls. I had been more focused on my career. An ex-colleague reached out to me on LinkedIn and told me about Bridgespan and that they were looking at building their Africa presence. I had a conversation with someone from the team and could instantly feel the chemistry. I love working with organisations that respect their values, and I could tell that Bridgespan was a values-driven organisation. I was also attracted to the fact that Bridgespan is a nonprofit organisation that is rooted in driving social impact. In the conversations I had with partners around the globe, I got the sense that there would be a work-life integration and I would be getting to do work that matters. I was also attracted to the idea of being able to spend more time with my kids, especially my eldest, who leaves for college in three years. Most importantly I am passionate about Bridgespan’s work.
What do you see in Bridgespan Africa’s future?
I’m grateful to be part of creating a legacy in building Bridgespan in Africa. If you look at social impact, particularly in Africa, there are definite opportunities for Bridgespan to drive social impact at scale. I’m particularly excited about the Bridgespan Nonprofit Development Program
. The unfortunate thing about the social sector in continents like Africa is you have many donors coming in, pumping in funds, and then disappearing without due consideration of strengthening organisational systems for resilience and sustainability. With Bridgespan providing a leadership program for NGOs, it sets a solid foundation for them to survive through different ways of funding and organisational growth trajectories. There is also a great opportunity for Bridgespan in Africa to “redefine” localisation.
I’m also looking forward to Bridgespan being a part of the broader African philanthropy agenda and exploring collaboratives. There’s a ton of potential for African philanthropists to invest in the continent. We saw this during COVID-19—a lot of philanthropists and high-net-worth individuals stepped up, so it would be great to see that momentum continuing.
What do you enjoy most about working at Bridgespan?
Just how humble and authentic people are, and how the organisation prioritises people over everything else. The second thing is how grounded, mindful, and deliberate Bridgespan is in choosing clients that drive meaningful impact at scale. I come from the for-profit consulting world, where you do not necessarily prioritise clients because you are chasing sales and financial targets. Bridgespan’s approach excites me because we’re driven by impact.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love hosting people in my house and spending quality time with my family. Having my husband around has been a blessing—he’s my biggest cheerleader. I wouldn’t have been where I am had he not held down the fort, been present for the family, and cheered me on. Travelling to new places with him is something I enjoy immensely.