Nico de Klerk is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, and lecturer at the School of Social Innovation, Huguenot College, South Africa. As Founder/CEO of StreetBiz Foundation, (non-profit), with a vision to address inequality, the emphasis is on entrepreneurial mindset development.
Nico completed his PhD in 2016, which focused on Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage from France to Spain, which he did after graduation. In 2020, he served as Adjunct-Professor in Spiritual Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, USA.
With social change in mind, he designed a Camino in South Africa called, “Long Walk for the Entrepreneurial Mindset”, an epic journey in 2018, when Nico walked from Pretoria to Cape Town, covering 1,700miles (2750km), visiting 100+ townships (isolated communities of poverty for black people, enforced by the Apartheid), presenting workshops at 200 high schools, and engaging with the unemployed and community leaders along the way.
Nico received the Edward de Bono Award for the Best Global Social Innovative Project for 2018 from Life Learning Academia. In 2023 Nico published a book in the USA, titled, “No Fit: My 1,700mile Walk from Apartheid”, describing this inecredible journey.
Be a Nelson Movement (mindset legacy of Nelson Mandela) is a direct outcome of the walk and the book and manifested in a national network and the 1st Be a Nelson Conference, in 2022, also attended by international delegates.
Nico obtained a Master Trainer Certificate in Entrepreneurial Skills Development from the University State of California. As National Coordinator and keynote speaker, he took a team selected from township schoolsto the World Championship for Student Entrepreneurs in Moscow, Russia, and achieved a 4th place against the best in the world.
He was a keynoter at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 in Toronto, Canada. At the Institute for Democracy, Ohio, USA, he participates in an ongoing global “Deliberative Dialogue” program. Nico became a co-editor for a book African Leadership: Powerful Paradigms for the 21st Century, published by Emerald Publishers, Canada, 2023.
When I met Jabulani Zwane in 1998, I had no idea how our lives would entwine and in particular, where his entrepreneurial mindset would take him. As a destitute township teen, he was unable to express himself clearly and with confidence. Now, in 2023, he has a successful business and is the vice-president of the Professional Speakers Association of South Africa! He recently was appointed to present a weekly TV show on motivation for Black youth. I could not have wished for a better role-model to demonstrate the Be a Nelson concept. His story is in the book No Fit.
I had the similar privilege of mentoring an unemployed 24-year-old named Thami Majiki whom I met as I walked through Orange Farm in 2018. Thami engaged with eagerness as we discussed business plans. At the impromptu meeting of community leaders arranged upon my arrival, Thami and the youth team were instructed to design a local walk through the area the following day. As 35 of us walked that route, Thami’s mind went to work, and this path is now called “The Flip-Flop Trail” for residents and tourists. This led to the creation of a multifunctional community garden, an Eco Park, and a monthly market for local entrepreneurs.
In 2019, StreetBiz organized an international workshop with academics, journalists, and a few informal leaders like Thami. Thami made a huge impression on all the delegates. An admissions evaluation was arranged for Thami at the University of Pretoria. After completing bridging courses, he will be able to pursue his passion for landscape architecture.
An interview with Thami is available from the first Be a Nelson Movement Conference in 2022, which included 35 online observers from around the globe. Later that year, Thami competed in the national “Young Nelson Competition” organized by a national news agency. Thami won a category and his impressive business plan received funding of $2,750 from an enterprise propeller.
Thami achieved this largely by himself, proving the unlimited power of social entrepreneurial mindset development combined with encouragement and access to growth opportunities.