IVOR Ichikowitz is a man of Africa, inspired and enthused by the continent but most especially South Africa his birthplace. He is a firm believer in the African ethos of ubuntu; he exists because of others and it is this philosophy which underpins the billionaire’s philanthropy through the multiple award winning Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which was established in 2010.

The foundation’s ethos is to develop the next generation and the ones that come after, primarily through education to empower them to ultimately do it for themselves but also to ensure the preservation of the country’s natural treasures and the stories and histories of those who helped South Africa transition from the world’s pariah to an international beacon.

It is this which explains the investment in the African Oral History Archive documenting the untold stories behind the key events that shaped Africa’s trajectory to liberation. The critically important Plot for Peace, the untold story behind the Brazzaville Accord and the story of South Africa’s transition and the role front line heads of state, master spies and freedom fighters helped end apartheid, flowed directly from this process. Plot for Peace provides direct personal testimony – captured on video – of the key proponents, some of whom have since died, involved in the behind the scenes process.

In turn, #IAMCONSTITUTION was a multi-media celebration of the 20th anniversary of the much-lauded South African constitution getting young and old to rediscover the document, to embrace it and to live its precepts. The intention was to create a new generation of constitution guardians; understanding their own rights through the honouring of the rights of others and acknowledging the constitution’s fundamental role as the young nation’s roadmap for future sustainability and its over-arching emphasis on nation building, dignity and humanity.

The foundation’s most recent initiative has been the co-funding of the Kgalema Motlanthe’s inaugural Inclusive Growth Forum, a think tank set up to plot South Africa’s return from the moral abyss of state capture to its proper position as a beacon for Africa and the world.

The foundation though is not just limited to South African historical activities or human rights educational initiatives, it funded the Children of Africa photographic exhibition, the African leg of the World Tour for Unity by the 58-member Alma Chamber Orchestra and the Ichikowitz Heritage Art Collection to engage with diverse audiences across class, creed, colour and age. The Heritage Art Collection which drew 130 artists together to express their vision of South Africa’s transition from oppression to liberation in turn gave rise to Art Crosses Borders – Conversations which became a mechanism to reach out to children in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township in the wake of xenophobic attacks.

The family has also been active in the war against poaching which has been decimating Africa’s natural resources. The foundation has funded a pioneering and unique anti-poaching academy where rangers and are trained by some of the world’s finest former special forces soldiers to sky dive and rappel from helicopters with dogs as rapid response units in game parks. The academy has also been the first to train dogs to fight pangolin poaching, placing them in game parks as well as at key South African entry ports. The foundation has also donated aircraft and K9 units to South Africa’s Kruger Park and Gabon’s National Parks, setting up Gabon’s Anti-Poaching Rapid Reaction Force in the process too to protect the endangered forest elephants.

Ichikowitz, who was an activist in the struggle against apartheid, experienced the challenges of a country in transition first-hand. He understands all too well the rigour and vigilance needed and the stability essential for developing nations – particularly African societies – to unlock their own potential and thrive for all who live in them. It is this ethos that underpins the philanthropic interventions of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation. Three years after the establishment of the foundation, he became the first South African in the history of Switzerland’s prestigious Crans Montana Foundation, to receive its Prix de la Fondation award in recognition of his contribution to social and humanitarian development in Africa.