Our philanthropic work began in 1979 when Allan and Gill Gray set up a charitable trust to support organisations working on social and economic needs in South Africa. This was followed by the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, founded in 2005, to attack poverty and unemployment by educating and nurturing high impact South African entrepreneurs. Its sister non-profit company, Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropy South Africa, works to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem through grant making and incubation of targeted social ventures.
With the establishment of Allan & Gill Gray Foundation in 2015, the philanthropic activities pursued under the banner of Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies now have global reach.
We provide targeted support for organisations working towards human dignity, equitable opportunity, and the public good. Our approach in assessing the purposeful leadership and long-term thinking of possible grantees and partners is consistent with what we have learned from the investment management businesses, coupled with an appreciation for the human and personal nature of the work and its impact.
Some of our work in action:
Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation invests in the education and development of individuals with entrepreneurial potential within Southern Africa, funded by a donation facilitated by Allan W.B. Gray of 5% of the pre-tax profits of the Allan Gray Group. They believe that curious, driven and responsibly minded young people are capable of significantly, positively and permanently impacting the economies of the communities, cities and possibly even the countries in which they operate.
The Foundation takes a holistic approach to entrepreneurship development and there are three critical aspects: the personal development of the individual, the practice of developing entrepreneurial skills and competencies, and the context of understanding the African and global communities being served.
The Philanthropy Initiative is a grant-making programme which empowers employees of Allan Gray and Orbis to participate in philanthropy by addressing the needs and improving the lives of those who form part of their local communities.
Initiated in 2018, the programme operates under the umbrella of Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies. Orbis and Allan Gray employees vote on a funding theme which lends focus to their choices in a responsible, thoughtful, and purposeful grant-making cycle. Elected organisations continue to be part of the Philanthropy Initiative for an initial period of up to three years.
To date in excess of 100 grants have been made. The themes chosen include: Quality education, Stewardship of nature, and Healthy living and well-being. Grant proposals are by invitation only.
Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership
(University of Cape Town)
The Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business is dedicated to exploring new ways of doing business based on purpose, sustainability and responsible practices that create dignity and belonging. They ask difficult questions about the assumptions supporting current business management models – specifically whether profit and shareholder value should continue to be the exclusive drivers of business, or whether values, purpose and meaning might be more effective drivers for the 21st Century.Learn More
Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics
The vital task of the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics (AGCLE) is to imaginatively investigate and conceptualise what constitutes ethical and responsible leadership, to promote such leadership in diverse contexts, and to develop education and training programmes to foster that leadership. A differentiating mark of the AGCLE is that, although it is a trans-disciplinary space, it is based in a philosophy department, so its guiding concerns are philosophical.Learn More
Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Development
The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Development will identify how to create a future of shared prosperity and economic justice in developing countries, in the context of technological, climate, demographic and other megatrends. The programme aims to move from a preoccupation with aggregate growth to one of economic justice based on the provision of meaningful work and livelihoods for all citizens. It will identify the key drivers of change that will shape the employment opportunities and constraints facing businesses, workers and governments in developing countries.Learn More
Allan Gray Orbis Fellowship
The Allan Gray Orbis Fellowship at Harvard Business School (HBS) was established in 1991 by Allan Gray, MBA 1965 in honour of his 25th reunion, and over the years the Gray family has added to the fund. It was Allan’s hope that this fund would make the transforming educational experience of HBS accessible to the broadest range of talented students possible, including prospective entrepreneurs nurtured by the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation in Southern Africa, which is particularly targeted at disadvantaged students. He hoped that through these efforts, more students from this region will become qualified for admission to Harvard Business School and thus receive financial assistance for their Harvard MBA from this HBS Fellowship.Learn More
Based in Rwanda, Jasiri believes that entrepreneurial teams are at the heart of new venture creation. It introduces entrepreneurship development programs at two stages of the entrepreneurial journey: The Talent Investor is a fully funded one-year program that supports aspiring entrepreneurs to find equally ambitious co-founders, while the Accelerator invests in and provides support to businesses that have found product-market fit for a Market-Creating Innovation. Jasiri guides program participants from idea generation to validation, prototyping, and venture creation.Learn More
Funda Wande is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to equip teachers to teach reading-for-meaning and calculating-with-confidence for young children in Grades R through 3 in South Africa. It does this by hiring talented experts to work as a team to create high-quality materials, experimenting with different teacher training approaches, and independently evaluating the results. The materials and training are created in the languages that children speak and understand and are freely available for anyone to download and use. Programs and materials are all evidence-based, independently evaluated, policy-aligned and cost-effective.Learn More
Jakes Gerwel Fellowship
Jakes Gerwel Fellowship is a full university scholarship that provides extensive mentoring and leadership development for top learners with a passion for teaching and education. At the heart of their work is nurturing expert teachers who embrace innovation and can lead the kind of change that the educational sector so desperately requires. In short, they want to make the strongest possible case and provide the greatest possible support for the best students to become the best teachers.Learn More
10KJ (which stands for ten thousand jobs) is a once-off initiative which partners with and supports 10 well-established Public Benefit Organisations in South Africa that have excellent track records in addressing unemployment by actively providing support for job seekers. It strives to make a meaningful and positive contribution to the immediate crisis of unacceptably high levels of unemployment in South Africa.Learn More
Collaborating with Others
The Foundation is consistently looking for creative avenues in its work. One means of exploring new frontiers beyond our immediate experience is through programmes that collaborate with other individuals, groups and organisations. This provides the opportunity for the Foundation to directly harness the expertise and insight of these partners.
The collaborations have led to the discovery of otherwise unknown exceptional social entrepreneurs, and to further bringing together cross disciplinary teams that have imagined, designed and implemented holistic interventions to some of the complex problems faced in modern systems of society. In all cases, the objective is the same: To change the trajectory of a life.