Community Leaders Education Fund (CLEF)

Shaping futures by developing a new generation of leaders

In 1996, Africa Foundation, our community development partner, launched the CLEF (Community Leaders Education Fund) tertiary education bursary programme in South Africa. In the years following, CLEF has expanded to Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and Namibia.

Shaping futures

The CLEF programme provides promising young leaders from rural communities bordering our operations with the opportunity of a tertiary education that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

The compounded impact of this successful programme – which has a first-time pass rate of 96% – extends beyond the students. Tertiary education unlocks the door to increased job opportunities and earning potential. Consequently, unemployment levels are reduced, family household incomes are supplemented and communities are uplifted.

Faces of CLEF

Meet some of the faces of CLEF

Impact on impact

A window of hope and opportunity, this successful programme – with a first-time student pass rate of 98% – is an initiative that talks to the very essence of long-term impact: its touch points extend beyond the student, to their families and their entire communities, creating meaningful benefits that are rooted in conservation.

Empowering communities, enabling conservation: these guiding principles of Africa Foundation, our non-profit community development partner for over 25 years, are perfectly mirrored in our &Beyond Care of the Land, Wildlife and People founding ethos.

To achieve long-term conservation success, communities living around protected wilderness areas need to participate in meaningful benefits from conservation.

(Sheila Surgey, CEO, Africa Foundation)

A bursary like no other

The success of the CLEF programme lies in the strength of its carefully structured methodology, which includes:

  • Mandatory ‘Buyisela’ (Community Service)

    In place of a financial pay-back of their CLEF bursary, students are required to give back to their communities during their holidays by doing Community Service projects which they are required to report back on to Africa Foundation. This unique element of the programme connects gratitude with generosity: as you have been blessed, so in turn, you become a blessing to others.

  • Active support throughout the year

    To address the significant gap between the students’ rural background and the urban environment where they will conduct their tertiary education, each student receives psycho-social support throughout the year which includes emergency crisis support, ongoing motivation and counselling.

  • Funding participation by the student

    CLEF recipients receive partial funding towards their tertiary education together with advice on securing further financial aid such as Government grants and corporate sponsorships, to support their studies.

  • Students are empowered to make decisions

    CLEF recipients are not restricted to a particular course of study or institution, so they may follow their chosen studies in an environment of their choice.

  • Students are incentivised to apply themselves

    The CLEF bursary provides support for one year of study, following which the student may reapply. Their progress is monitored and renewal is dependent on their application to their studies.

  • Graduate support

    Each year, the graduates are brought together for an award ceremony and to workshop with CLEF Ambassadors – previous graduates who share their experience and advice on post-university steps. During this time, graduates are also enrolled on a work readiness and CV development course to position them for success in their search for work.

Success on success

CLEF’s impact from 1996 to 2020 includes:

  • 915 Bursaries awarded
  • 604 CLEF students
  • 533 CLEF graduates
  • 62 Rural communities in Africa
  • 30% CLEF graduates with more than one degree
  • 98% Pass rate
  • First postgraduate bursary

The career paths of these 533 CLEF students include:

  • 32 Engineers
  • 188 Educators
  • 18 Medical Doctors
  • 26 Accountants
  • 13 Environmentalists
  • 31 Lawyers
  • 18 Medical health


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Africa Foundation

Empowering communities, enable conservation-our non-profit community development partner for 25 years


Leaving our world a better place for years

Discover the impact legacy that your travel with &BEYOND is driving. Just as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals have been a touchstone for our Vision 2020 group-operation sustainability audits, so they continue to guide and underpin our ambitiously scaled Vision 2030 goals.