In 1996 Cyril Ramaphosa began supporting a small number of disadvantaged students with bursaries to attend university. He did this by donating money he earned from his public speaking engagements. This resulted in the establishment of the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET) in 2000.

Some 20 years after that initial action there is a growing hall of fame as CRET‐enabled graduates realise their dreams of becoming highly qualified professionals.

“CRET gave me the keys to open many doors.”

Samukelisiwe Khawule, Audit Manager, Auditor General’s Office, South Africa

In 2004, when the Shanduka Foundation – now known as Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation – was formed, CRET was provided the opportunity to grow significantly – and it did. From an initial commitment to sponsor five students studying towards business degrees, CRET has developed with the support of corporate sponsors and partners and in 2017 there are a record 65 recipients of CRET bursaries.

CRET has a different approach to the management of its education programme and aims to recruit candidates that would ordinarily be overlooked by other bursary programmes, which only seek out the top achievers. Rather, selected candidates demonstrate potential that will develop further with the right nurturing, financial support and psychological and social grounding.

This is a bursary scheme that considers the holistic needs of the student as well as their potential. As such, it offers bursaries tailor made to the student’s needs. The CRET bursary generally covers tuition, accommodation, books, stationery and a personal allowance stipend. Alongside this financial support there is mentoring from our ‘family’ of corporate and individual supporters.

All students attend intensive holiday work experience programmes twice a year, where they get hands‐on experience of the “real‐world” of business and can network with each other and industry leaders.

“Having the opportunity to study has been a source of refuge from my troubled life. It has allowed me to forget the physical and emotional pain I endured every day. Prior to CRET coming into my life, nothingness and hopelessness dominated each and every aspect of my being. My life situation and the consequences of mistakes I made resulted in me becoming ill. I fell into such a dark place and had lost hope of ever having an opportunity to achieve anything – or to even live for anything.

Through all my darkness, I still loved to read and wished to study further. But I did not think this would ever be possible, until CRET resurrected my dreams. I have gone on to be more positive than ever before about my life. I have hope. I am positive of a great future.

The power of education has made me forget all the physical and emotional pain of my past. My education, the special family I have, and a renewed interest in life are the reasons I am alive and ready to fulfil my purpose. I thank my CRET family for my education and for giving me a chance to live for a purpose. So today, my once broke soul, is studying towards a degree which seemed impossible before. “

Students are further exposed to team‐building activities, general personal development and, most of all, a supportive and cohesive family environment which is where the CRET programme really shines.

The programme also encourages students to embrace the ethos of “giving back” by remembering those in need. For instance, students work at selected welfare organisations during their holidays – and they also distribute donations of clothes, food and other essentials within the disadvantaged community.

This encourages a culture of social responsibility that also grounds many of the students. Senior CRET students and alumni take on the roles of mentors to new students, while others contribute financially to the programme. Some have even gone on to implement their own corporate bursary programmes.

The story of CRET is one of incredible youngsters developing into incredible individuals. But it is also the story of how supporting, mentoring and nurturing can create change for the future skill set of South African youth.


CRET has proven how seemingly out-of-reach dreams can be realised by providing support to disadvantaged youth.

These are the words and stories of some of the CRET Alumni:

“CRET gave me the keys to open many doors. The mentoring and special attention provided enhanced my self-worth and confidence that created a sense of loyalty and motivated me to be diligent in my studies and apply myself in the work environment. “

Samukelisiwe Khawula, Audit Manager, Auditor General South Africa

“CRET came into my life at a time when I was facing a serious challenge. I wanted to become a chartered accountant but my parents could not afford university fees. I had already applied for five other bursaries before CRET afforded me an opportunity. Through this support and the belief CRET had in me, I have been able to achieve my goal of qualifying as a chartered accountant and I have inspired others. Thank you for what you did in my life and for what you do for other people too.”

Cyril Madiba, Senior Product Controller, Barclays Africa Group, Johannesburg

“If every child were to experience the work of the Foundation, the world would be a better place. After receiving their support for my studies and then the opportunity of experiential work following my graduation, I realised that when others open their hearts to you, you can do the same to others.” 

Khanyisa Maphaha, Communication Assistant, Adopt-a-School Foundation

“Thanks to the support of CRET, I have realised my dream. The CRET bursary is not a typical bursary. It goes beyond a financial contribution to students. Life skills are learned and holiday work experiences give an insight into the working environment. It is an honour to have been a custodian of CRET and I will continue flying the flag high.” 

Nkululeko Mindu, Associate Consultant, PWC SA, Johannesburg

“I will always be grateful to CRET for the opportunities granted to me over the years. Although I was a partner company student (Rentworks), I’ve always felt at home at Shanduka. During my undergraduate degree, I was exposed to various companies through projects organised by CRET and this has contributed immensely towards my studies. Happy 10-year anniversary Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation! We need you to continue changing the lives of the South African youth!”

Susan Makete, Postgraduate Accounting Student (aspiring CA), University of Johannesburg


To support a CRET student through their studies, whether through mentorship or financial means, or to make a donation of equipment, stationery, data and the like please contact:

Alice Moyo

Tel: 011 592 6560