#CareerFocus With Geralda Wildschutt CEO Of Maisha Social Solutions

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1. Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am passionate about people, well-being, mental health, as well the Sustainability of the planet. How do we live our best lives responsibly in protection of the environment and the planet? I also strongly believe that businesses and Corporations across the world has a significant role to play in social change and addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We can solve poverty, inequality, etc., and protect the human rights of all, if all sectors – business, civil society and governments work collaboratively and in real partnerships.

My interests have led me to study psychology and qualify as an Educational Psychologist as well as completing a MBA to play a role in business. I’ve worked in the Non-profit sector as a psychologist on the Cape Flats of CT, for corporates in banking and the mining industry. I am an Independent Director on the Board of Caledonia Mining Corporation, a listed gold miner, and CEO of Maisha Social Solutions. I also volunteer on the Board of SAICA Enterprise Development and The Hope Factory as Director.

2. What work do you do?

I am CEO of Maisha Social Solutions, founded in 2016, a consultancy and advisory business, assisting Corporates in understanding their role in delivering the SDGs and supporting civil society- so in roles such as Corporate Social Investment (CSI), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and Socio-economic Development. My team and I work mostly in the mining and renewable energy sectors and we are passionate about supporting the country to achieve the Just Energy Transition – where we move towards renewable energy responsibly and bring communities along on the journey.

We develop CSI strategies for companies – doing the research to understand the needs of the communities and where the focus should be to achieve real changes in the lives of people, i.e. if a company invests in agriculture projects, it should be because food security is a challenge in that community and people are interested in growing their food, keeping livestock, etc. So we believe in researched based community investment. We also design impactful Monitoring & Evaluation models where the company can measure their contribution to social change and report on this. Maisha Social Solutions support large scale Corporations with their Sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) reports, and the design of policies, procedures and management systems.

Community engagement and partnerships are core to our work, and we design strategies and plans, where companies work in partnerships with their communities in the design and implementation of socio-economic development projects. We work with businesses that make long term commitments and understand that development work is not a fast process.

3. How long have you been in the industry?

I have worked in the Mining Industry since 2009, and in the roles of Social Entrepreneurship, Corporate Social Responsibility and Socio-Economic Development since 2004.

4. Has your work always been your passion? Tell us why?

Yes, I have always been interested in people, what drives and motivates us and how we learn and problem solving. Therefore, the qualification and work as an Educational Psychologist and Social Entrepreneur. I am independent minded and as a young woman I was determined to be financially independent and to study hard. I also dreamed of traveling the world and to influence business leaders to move towards a sustainable approach to doing business. I’ve been lucky that career opportunities and sponsors were presented on my path to help me achieve these dreams.

5. Being a women in the industry – what does it take?

In the Corporate world and male dominated industries such as Mining, it takes a strong sense of self, i.e. self-confidence and self-awareness, along with emotional intelligence, empathy, and determination to succeed. I believe in life-long learning and that knowledge of your field will enhance your confidence and success. Working hard and displaying resilience or grid as it is also termed, is important, since you will be challenged and your competency questioned, so pulling from internal strength is important.

Being a team player and working with both men and women on common goals as a team keeps everyone focused and on the same side. I have always found men allies in the workplace, who support the careers of women and respect women as competent leaders.

6. What has been the most difficult challenge of your career?

I don’t think there has been one specific challenge. I’ve changed jobs and industries often, having worked in psychology, social entrepreneurship, and business and in various industries and sectors, from Civil society organizations, Financial institutions, Mining, Consulting/ business owner and Business leader. In each of these positions, I had difficult and challenging experiences, mostly stemming from feeling insecure as the new person and having to learn very fast.

Challenges and change have made me more determined and focused, and I believe that timing is everything!

7. What advice do you have for other women in your industry?
  • Work on your career path and goals, as well as on yourself – know who you are.
  • Balance your career and ambition with physical and spiritual goals.
  • Continue learning (formally through academic institutions and informally through peers).
  • Find sponsors, champions, mentors – people who believe in you and will champion your journey
  • Know you are worthy and you are enough!
8. Plans for the future?

I want to continue working as a business leader on boards of corporations and non-profit organizations. I am also working on delivering the best work to our clients as Maisha Social Solutions, championing the Sustainability agenda.

Short bio

Geralda has over 28 years’ experience in the fields of ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) and Sustainability across Mining, Renewable Energy, Banking and the Social Sector. She has worked across Africa, Latin America, Asia, North America and Australia. Geralda is an Independent Director on the Board of Caledonia Mining Corporation Plc, a listed gold mining company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and London’s AIM. She chairs the ESG Committee and is a member of the Corporate Governance, Audit and Strategy committees. She holds a Masters’ Degree in Psychology from the University of Cape Town, an MBA from Business School of the Netherlands and a Certificate in Cross-sector Partnerships from Cambridge University.

Contact information

Telephone: +27(0)718574147

Emails: geralda@maishasocialsolutions.co.za; gwildschutt@caledoniamining.com

Social media links

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