Skoll Foundation


Community and Individual Development Association

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Taddy Blecher
Award Year: 2006
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Education and Economic Opportunity

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Taddy Blecher, a “hardened capitalist and qualified actuary,” had packed all his belongings and was on the verge of emigrating from South Africa when he paused to take a good look around him. “I saw aching poverty but also the greatest and most valuable resource: human potential,” he said. At that moment, he made a life-changing decision to do something to help his country. Taddy has been CEO of the Community and Individual Development Association since 1995. In 1999, he and his colleagues opened CIDA City Campus, South Africa’s first free university, dedicated to providing disadvantaged youth the chance to earn a four-year business degree. He has been a pioneer of the free education movement in South Africa, serving as Group CEO of CIDA City Campus until 2007, and, after leaving CIDA City Campus, launching a new urban campus, the Maharishi Institute, and a rural campus under development, the Ezemvelo Eco-Campus, as models to replicate world-wide.


  • With a 30-year track record for innovation, The Community and Individual Development Association has worked directly with over 50,000 South Africans, and touched the lives of at least 500,000 South Africans, along with hundreds of individuals from Southern Africa.
  • University education is inaccessible to most people in South Africa. Community Individual Development Association pioneered the ‘free tertiary education movement’ in South Africa, with 4 institutions created directly and 2 others seeded.
  • 5,000 graduates, 4,500 working in jobs, together earning R200 million in annual salaries
  • 500,000 people reached with skills development
  • More than 30,000 students, staff, parents, and principals trained in Self development programmes including Transcendental Meditation and other methodologies for life-enhancement
  • Increasing pass-rates by 25% on 100,000 school marks for 9,000 children
  • Provided 10+ schools in Alexandra township with computers, textbooks, and security equipment
  • Trained more than 10,000 learners, teachers, principals and parents in the self-development programmes in schools in Alexandra, Soweto and the East Rand of Johannesburg from 1995 to 1999. These results were comprehensively measured and tracked, and include:
    1. Increase in pass-rates of 25% for 9 000 students over a 3-year period, vs. a fall of 1% in pass-rates for 12 000 learners in the control schools
    2. Fall in absenteeism of 90% of both learners and teachers in schools
    3. Reduction in drug usage, substance abuse, and violence in schools
    4. Complete stopping of suicides in schools were program’s were implemented
    5. Improved marks in maths, science and English in every grade
  • Community Individual Development Association signed a memorandum of understanding in February 2010 to create with partners a college/university program in Sri Lanka for post-war development, the first outside of South Africa.
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