Isak Pretorius is the Africa regional honoree for the 2021 YPO Global Impact Award. The award focuses on YPO members making an impact outside the organization that is both sustainable and scalable, affecting people, prosperity, peace, or our planet.

While aid in Africa is often associated with international organizations, for YPO South African member and JAM International (JAM) Group Executive Director Isak Pretorius, sustainable impact needs to be more aligned with community members and the private sector. Founded in 1984 by his parents, Peter and Ann Pretorius, as a development organization providing aid to vulnerable communities in Mozambique, JAM has scaled its operation to seven countries, directly helping tens of millions out of poverty. In 2018, it was awarded the prestigious Presidents Ubuntu Award by the South African President, recognizing the outstanding work done by a South African organization across the African continent.

For Pretorius, who has been in leadership positions in the humanitarian and business sectors for the past two decades, the COVID-19 experience is a powerful reminder of the importance of engaging the private sector for truly transformative local-led action. “Now more than ever, we need to evolve our understanding of traditional aid work and bring the for-profit and nonprofit worlds closer together,” he says.

Roots in Africa and her people

While growing up, Peter Pretorius would take his son to refugee camps or malnutrition clinics during school vacations. “I learned a lot from these early experiences,” says Pretorius. “I think the beauty of being a child is you see the world in a simplistic way. I grew up connected with these kids and experienced through their eyes life in humanitarian disaster places like Mozambique, Congo, and Angola.”

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