Open Foundation SA

Open Foundation SA is a non-governmental organization dedicated to ending the cycle of poverty, hunger, and violence through the provision of basic needs, psychological support, and sustainable skills training.

Our Vision and Mission

Nearly twenty-five years after Apartheid, South Africa remains one of the most inequitable nations in the world based on the Gini Index. According to the World Bank, the wealthiest 10% of the population holds more than 70% of the country’s net wealth while the bottom 60% holds just 7%. This disparity is largely divided along racial lines where 60% of the population of Cape Town lives in townships and informal settlements, many of whom live on less than $5 (R80) a day.

In the townships and informational settlements served by Open Foundation SA, government services and food aid programs are limited, which has led to a hunger crisis. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a quarter of South African children under the age of five were considered to be nutritionally stunted due to hunger, including in the Western Cape, where 37% of children are living in poverty.

Other concerning issues are the under-funded education and health care systems as well as  consistently rising unemployment due to the state of the South African economy as well as the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

With your support, each day Open Foundation SA is on the ground in vulnerable communities combating hunger, providing for basic needs, conducting outreach and counseling support, as well as offering basic skills training to help others reach self-sufficiency. 


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”


– Desmond Tutu

With your support, each day Open Foundation SA is on the ground in vulnerable communities combating hunger, providing basic needs, conducting outreach and counseling support, and offering basic skills training to help others reach self-sufficiency.

TOGETHER, WE ARE KEEPING HOPE ALIVE in the face of these statistics.

Message from the founder

South Africa is a country where crises arise frequently due to the high levels of poverty. In South Africa’s townships and informal settlements life is incredibly challenging, with the threat of fires and flooding leading to emergency needs on a regular basis. We began providing for some of these needs. We also wanted to solve ongoing issues in the country, such as mass unemployment and gender-based violence. We began working on those issues through various projects. The Foundation started as a family initiative and at the time we  had no idea what impact we would make in the community by taking from our own pockets and supporting those who are less fortunate. We provided food, clothing and other basic needs for families in Kraaifontein. During that time other donations started coming in from close friends and family members to help us on our mission. We had not yet identified how and where we could make the most impact. It simply made us happy to see others happy. We found that the more we gave, the more people came to us to ask for help. We realized that we could not feed the entire community without smart planning and scaling. We decided to create a proper plan to continue work that we are called to, providing help for those less fortunate. Open Foundation was named as such in 2020, and rightfully so during a year that has asked all of us across the world to engage and give more. Our team has continued to grow, as has our impact. We envision a future where people living in townships and informal settlements  will not struggle to meet basic needs or find meaningful employment. We see a future that uplifts young entrepreneurs and creates opportunities for economic security in poor communities across Africa. We want to make this dream a reality and hope that people who help this organization in the future will continue to build this dream and keep hope alive with us.

“Giving is not a duty but a privilege”


Emson Magwaza

Founder, Director of Operations

Emson Nhlanhla Magwaza lives and works in Cape Town. He attended Bible College through the Bible Impact College. After which he studied Local Governance through Mancosa and further obtained a degree in Environmental Management through the University of South Africa.

Emson served as a member of the Living Waters Mission and outreach team as a project coordinator. Here he visited neighboring countries to help bring relief and upliftment under the banner of the Global Leadership Summit. 

In February 2019, during his time at the St Giles Mission gym in Durban, he adopted the concept “You have never truly lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” 

Emson is actively involved in the day to day running of the organisation and implementing long term strategic decisions.

He serves on various  board  of Directors for Bright Star Foundation , board  of directors for ECDC also work as a strategic Manager for AU Diaspora Youth and serves as a Deputy chairperson for Northern Cape IEDF.

Jessie Irwin

Member, Board of Directors / Director (USA)

Throughout her career, Jessie has led marketing and communication strategy for several high-growth organizations, including NGOs and private global corporations. 

From an NGO perspective, she has directed large-scale change and development initiatives for multi-million-dollar organizations focused on addressing the needs of children and families living in crisis and poverty. She also has experience conducting field research on the causes and impact of wealth disparity among vulnerable populations in Cape Town. 

Jessie received her undergraduate degree from Loyola Marymount University and holds a masters degree in Executive Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University, as well as an MBA from Brown University in the U.S. and the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain.

She is committed to dismantling the presence of systemic racism and injustice globally as well as the social and economic effects thereof.

Obidience Chirengende

Director, Agriculture Projects (Africa)

Obedience is an agricultural professional with qualifications aquired with both University of Zimbabwe and with UNISA. He also holds a qualification in masters in business administartion with the Midlands State university in Zimbabwe. He is currently in his final stage of a masters in international affairs with the same university.

Mandy Cromarty

Director - International Relations (Europe)

She has joined Open Foundation SA, will bring in the much-needed expertise in child welfare, the needy and the disabled. She has done a lot of community work for most of her life including animal rescue.

Lindsay Dillman

Director - Advisory

Lindsay Dillman joins The Open Foundation with an experience and offering of over 40 years as a pastor, leader, and lover of people. As the joint founder of Lindsay Dillman Ministries together with his wife Brenda, and the Bridge Global Foundation he has brought people together and offered them hope and purpose. Serving as a concert tour promoter in his production company, Destiny Promotions and on the Global Leadership Summit team he has hosted large events for many years changing lives in Africa. “I have served God and His Church faithfully for more than 30 years alongside dad in the church he called Living Waters which he founded together with my mother in the 1950’s. I have been very privileged to witness the presence and power of God and experience His tremendous favour and blessing throughout my life.”