Helping South Africa’s ‘missing middle’ with housing through business.
Putukwane Madisha (MBA, 2016)
As CEO of Housing Investment Partners (HiP), Putu is a champion of affordable housing in South Africa. He was appointed as CFO in February 2017, at which time the shareholders were considering closing the business due to lack of profitability.
He was appointed as CEO in December 2018. Under Putu’s leadership, HiP went from a loss of ZAR 17 million (€ 1 million) in 2016 to a profit of ZAR 9 million (€500k) in 2019.
The ‘missing middle’ in South Africa earns too much for free social housing, but too little to qualify for a standard bank home loan. HiP provides home loans to the so-called ‘missing middle’ with gross monthly income above €200 and up to €1,500. Most customers are in public service, for example policemen, nurses and teachers.
HiP uses an innovative salary-linked repayment product that alleviates affordability issues in the beginning of the loan, with the repayments gradually increasing over the life of the home loan, as the client's income increases. In total, Putu raised ZAR 806 million (€47 million) for the provision of affordable housing home loans.
Nominator and former RSM classmate Alla Alimova says: “Putu has the biggest heart – and laugh – that I've ever experienced in a person. He's driven by not only his personal economic gain, but primarily by making the community better.”
Implementing sustainability strategies for multinationals.
Ryan Holowka (MSc Strategic Management, 2017)
After building sustainability from the ground up at Vodafone Germany, Ryan was tasked with making Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf (P&C) a leader in sustainable fashion in July 2021.
For P&C, which has over 15,000 employees and 150 stores in 16 countries, Ryan is developing the company’s first-ever sustainability strategy to act as a catalyst for change within the fashion industry.
As Head of Sustainability at Vodafone Germany (16,000 employees), Ryan took on the responsibility for carbon reduction, implementing circular economy solutions for e‑waste, and supporting sustainable innovation for Vodafone's operations in Germany. In 2020, the company had reached 100 per cent renewable energy, reducing its CO2 emissions by 92 per cent, with the goal to become climate neutral by 2025 and net-zero emissions by 2040.
Ryan has made several public appearances on sustainability-related topics, including high-profile German podcasts and invitations to the German Ministry of Environment. He was also a board member of digital association Bitkom, with a focus on digitalisation and sustainability.
As member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers, Ryan also works with inspiring young people, trying to make a positive change to local communities within a global context.
Ryan: “I cannot simply sit back and wait for others to fix the problems that we have, but need to take responsibility myself and try to do the best I can to have a positive impact on the world. I’m happy I can do that every day.”
Boosting collaboration and growth through technological innovation.
Rigo Selassa (OneMBA, 2019)
By founding consulting firm LaNubia, Rigo recognised and leveraged technology to build a diverse and unique work environment that connects colleagues and contractors around the world, helping them to learn from diverse backgrounds and skillsets, and share ideas. Another big achievement in Rigo’s career is the build of a consortium with academic partner JADS to start an innovation lab in Curaçao with focus on artificial intelligence and data science.
When conceptualizing LaNubia, Rigo combined his work experience, drive to disrupt the consulting industry, and entrepreneurial spirit to reconceptualize the traditional, hierarchical, consultancy into a positive, creative, collaborative and modern format.
The innovation lab in Curaçao also aims to have a huge social impact by providing educational options for students and business professionals. It hopes to stimulate economic growth for the island to create a foundation for export of educational and IT services.
He also supported two RSM MBA teams during the MBA'21 Living Management Project, introducing and inspiring the students to see his vision for LaNubia, to better understand technology's impact on the future of work, and to see and embrace opportunities for business growth and entrepreneurship.
Rigo actively hires and trains other RSM alumni. He encourages all his employees to embrace RSM’s values in their work and life, to never stop pursuing positive personal growth, and to embrace changes with enthusiasm and agility.
Nominator Aldo Silvano, fellow MBA alumnus says: “I’m impressed with Rigo’s dedication to driving technological innovation and adoption in the business community, boosting RSM’s recognition and reputation worldwide, and desire to build a positive and accepting workforce.”
Building communities and careers for minorities through entrepreneurship.
Teodor Cătăniciu (IBA, 2017)
Teodor has a gift to imagine the world as it should be and a commitment to community service, says his nominator and fellow IBA graduate Frederick Rustler.
As an entrepreneur and founder of OVO Europa, a development company that builds sustainable communities, Teodor was named one of the Best Entrepreneurs Under 35 by the Dutch Financial Times, featured on Voice of America and TEDx, and has been selected as one of Romania’s 30 Under 30 by Forbes Magazine.
As a student, Teodor rallied the support of Rotterdam City Hall, volunteers and technology companies to co-found Restart Network, a non-profit venture that built careers in IT for underrepresented minorities in the Netherlands. He also co-founded Turing Society (now Turing Students Rotterdam) which hosts lectures and programmes about coding and technology.
He taught martial arts and created a community of students through Erasmus BJJ, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club he co-founded with Erasmus Sport. His student ambitions resulted in Restart Network being able to donate €15,000 to RSM’s Hummingbird Fund, empowering current students to have a positive impact through entrepreneurship.
Teodor: “The idea that most significantly impacted my worldview is that ‘we are the people we have been waiting for’. At RSM I forged strong friendships, found bright minds that challenged me, and kind people that supported me. And five years later my significant other and I are still very happy – we met during a lecture. So I certainly have a lot to be grateful for.”