About Us

Our Vision
......is to empower NGOs, government and the private sector to work together toward more sustainable economic, environmental and social solutions.

Our Mission
......is to empower NGOs, government and the private sector through research, education, training and through encouraging networks and partnerships
that will promote sustainable solutions.

The aims of the Sustainable Development Network are

  • To help NGOs become more sustainable through networking, resource mobilisation strategies; training in fundraising and social
    enterprise development.
  • To provide useful research for NGO’s, government and the private sector which will promote and encourage sustainable development.
  • To provide education and training programmes (including assistance with creating accredited training programmes) for NGOs,
    government and the private sector.

The SA Sustainable Development Network Board

Lisa Thompson Smeddle is the Founder/Director of the Sustainable Development Network.  She has a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University, and honours degrees in social sciences and sustainable development. She has 26 years’ experience in the NGO sector in South Africa and builds capacity in NGOs across southern Africa. She has managed a variety of programmes for the UNDP; DANIDA;  Cordaid; the Sustainability Institute; Stellenbosch University; the SA National Department of Human Settlements, SA provincial and local government authorities, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the University of California Berkeley and more. She has recently been on contract as a sustainability advisor to Family Health International and the Academy for Educational Development: Umbrella Grants Mechanisms managing $90 million USAID PEPFAR grants.


Anton Buirski is a corporate attorney of more than 50 years standing and is currently in practice in Cape Town. He is a graduate of both UCT and the London School of Economics. Anton is currently the chairperson of Action on Elder Abuse South Africa, an NGO and a national organisation which deals with problems of the aged. During a long professional career he has served on committees of many community projects as well as sporting bodies and brings a wealth of administrative experience to the organisation.



Varkey George has been recognised as one of the leading practitioners of Social Entrepreneurship in the social sector. He has had various experiences in rural and urban South Africa, having set up various job creation, education projects and transforming non-profits from total dependence to greater financial independence, in various parts of the country. In 2000, he was appointed as the CEO of the Wits Rural Facially of the University of Witwatersrand where he turned around a financially ailing organisation to be sustainable. While in that position he was elected as the founder chair of the Kruger to Canyons Bioshpere Reserve. In 2004, he was appointed as the CEO of SHAWCO (Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation), at the University of Cape town, where again he was tasked to turn around an ailing organisation which is now trail blazing in the practice of social entrepreneurship. In 2012, he decided to open up a consulting company called MIGS (Multiple Income Generating Strategy) model of income generation for non-profits. He assists non-profits and other organisations to think and act innovatively to solve social issues, facilitates strategic planning sessions, planning, evaluation and reporting. He also developed a series of lectures on social entrepreneurship, emotional intelligence, Trust in the Work place, lets learn how to fail, the first steps out of failure and scientific evidence on why we behave the way we do. He has been visiting lecturer at the University of Cape Town, Gordon Institute of Business Science, Pretoria, Euromed and Ieseg School of Business in Paris and Lille.Together with his work in the consultancy, he has taken up part time work as Country Social Enterprise Manager for the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO), based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is tasked with exploring opportunities and implementing third stream income generating strategies for the organisation.

Zainab Fredericks has over 10 years’ experience in the project management, publishing and training sectors. As the Business Unit Manager for Juta and Company Cape Town 2009 – 2013), she was responsible for manageing the publishing and training processes and implementation strategies for Juta. She was also responsible for new business development. for 5 years, She is a confident leader, she manages individuals and teams with a collaborative timeliness and accuracy. From 2006-2009 she was a publisher and project manager for Heinemann Publishers in Johannesburg. Zainab is a confident leader with excellent interpersonal and leadership skills.


Christine Colvin obtained her MSc in Hydrogeology from University College London, and has been practicing hydrogeology in Southern Africa since 1992, linking groundwater to Integrated Water Resources Management. Christine is the Freshwater Programme Manager for the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. Prior to this she worked as a hydrogeological researcher at the CSIR, specialising in groundwater dependent ecosystems and the role of groundwater in IWRM in Southern Africa. She lead a group of 12 scientists that started as the Groundwater Group and diversified into the Hydroscience group, assessing biophysical processes in South African catchments. Christine is currently completing a PhD on ecosystem dependency on aquifers, examining ecosystems in the Cape, the Kruger Park and Mozambique. She chairs the South African chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) as well as the IAH Commission on Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems.


The SDN is registered as a Section 21 company in South Africa, and as a 501c3 company in the US.
Sustainable Development Network South Africa NPC: K2011/122880/08
Sustainable Development Network USA Non-Profit (501c3) Number: 3388896
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