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Mr. Miyelani Holeni's inspiring journey through development finance education, driving change in South Africa's development landscape.

Unlocking Africa's Development Potential: A Journey with Mr. Miyelani Holeni

In a country as diverse and dynamic as South Africa, it also faces some unique challenges in its pursuit of development. To tackle these challenges effectively, it takes leaders with a deep understanding of the systems of development finance. Mr. Miyelani Holeni, a seasoned expert in municipal governance, shares his transformative journey through the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) Development Finance program at the Stellenbosch Business School.

A Quest for Knowledge

As a partner and shareholder at Ntiyiso Consulting Group, Holeni is the Group Chief Advisor. His role involves advising on marketing, sales, and local government matters. However, his quest for a deeper understanding of development finance led him to the Stellenbosch Business School's PGDip program.

“As a municipal governance expert, I needed to grasp the financing mechanisms of projects to drive revenue growth for municipalities,” Holeni explains. “I chose the PGDip Development Finance program because it offered a holistic approach to development, not just a numbers game.”

Aligning the vision and goals with the man

Prior to his postgrad studies, Holeni graduated from University of KwaZulu-Natal (formerly University of Natal) with a BSc degree. He continues to expand on aligning his vision and goals that have real-world impact: “[By] diversifying my qualification to include the financial side and to dive deeper into the field of development from the macro to the macro-economic level. I wanted to gain knowledge in the financing mechanisms of development and how to influence policy to create projects that contribute or address development.”

Ntiyiso Consulting has redefined their strategy and positioned the business with a ‘Unlock development’ perspective. It was fitting that he first had to grasp the theory of how to finance development in order to facilitate and package strategy to achieve the developmental goals.

Holeni continues: “I decided not to get into the mainstream consulting space, which was characterized by dropping a report and slides with no implementation to one, which is practical, outcomes driven, and I wanted to participate in the implementation of the solutions.

Expanding Horizons

The program equipped Holeni with knowledge and practical skills to initiate and manage projects spanning various sectors, from agricultural value chains to social entrepreneurship and housing finance. It gave him the theoretical basis to tackle the root causes of development challenges, a critical skill for a professional with a diverse background.

"The PGDip laid the foundation for my understanding of development and project success," he notes. "It helped me make sense of my experiences in different sectors and provided me with the tools to package projects for success."

Mastering the Art of Change

Following the PGDip, he pursued a Master of Philosophy in Development Finance (MPhil). This advanced program allowed him to conduct in-depth research and draft policies that brought about change in development projects. It also broadened his vision and possibility of the potential of microfinance and fintech solutions for community-based development.

"The MPhil program integrated all aspects of development finance," he says. "It created the context for projects that can be game changers for communities and entire countries."

Closing the Gaps

Holeni's unique perspective as a government turnaround strategist and business leader highlights the critical need for professionals with skills in development finance especially in the municipal and government sectors. He believes the program can bridge the knowledge gap between policy practitioners, development finance institutions (DFIs), and financial services.

"It's essential for professionals in these sectors to work together," he emphasises. "The PGDip and MPhil programs equip individuals to understand how policy, finance, and project execution intersect, leading to more effective and impactful development initiatives."

The impact of education can never be taken too lightly, despite this, Holeni believes that municipalities face real problems that, at times, theoretically cannot be solved in the classroom but with real-world simulations. Holeni believes that municipalities can do much more to improve the lives of everyday South Africans if they could realise the power that development finance could have on day-to-day operations at municipal level.

Holeni added: “Municipalities are positioned as engines of growth, and their role is to help the country to realise the kind of development that leads to growth, reduction of poverty and inequality by creating industry to absorb new entrants into the economy. Some municipalities have not fully grasped their role of driving development because they lack the scholars, intellectuals, and practitioners who can conceptualise projects that will catalyse and foster development. They have the power to be fully self-funded and would not have to rely on the fiscus for grants to finance their operations.”

Power of PGDip

Miyelani Holeni's journey through the PGDip and MPhil programs at the Stellenbosch Business School is a testament to the transformational power of education in development finance. His experiences and insights serve as an inspiration for professionals seeking to make a meaningful impact on South Africa's development landscape.


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