Navigating Islands

It might not be very politically correct, or nice to hear, but at LifeXchange we often talk about South Africa being a country of many islands. And this is so evident in the Fish Hoek valley, where our base of operations is situated. A drive down Kommetjie Rd takes you from the beautiful mainly-white Fish Hoek Island, followed by the vibrant African Masiphumelele Island on your right, and then on your left the Cape Coloured Ocean View Island.

Three isolated communities all within a 5 km radius. And when we talk with our mentors, we share how they can be the bridge-builders, inspiring our country to reach out and be the rainbow nation we actually sell ourselves as.

Recently, we’ve been realizing that there are other islands, or ‘cultures’ to visit in this land. Two specifically, that we like to call the ‘Charity Island’ and the ‘Business Island’, have caught our attention. As an NPC (Not-for-Profit Company), LifeXchange has been facing the challenge of figuring out which island we belong to, because just like the Masi’s and the Ocean View’s, there is not a lot of healthy interaction between them!


“…the way we do things on Charity island is to accept any and all help.”

A businessman accessorizes with One Hundred Dollar bills.

“…on the Business island, money is the driving factor.”

For instance, the way we do things on Charity island is to accept any and all help, despite what our vision is, because we are doing anything we can to help people. This means that often we find underpaid and overworked staff and the quality of work is often questionable. But, on this island people matter, and the cause is good! In fact, employees wake up in the morning feeling happy because they are working for something bigger than themselves and not chasing profits or material comforts like those greedy corporates across the sea.

And it is the case that most often on the Business island, money is the driving factor. Here, people don’t matter, because they can always be replaced with someone else who can do the job better and for less! However, on this island, we care about the quality of our output because the best customer service, marketing and sales means more profits. We want outcomes and measurable results to be able to show that what we do is worth buying. And so we look at the charity island from our top floor world-class boardroom and we call it a black hole, where money goes into and nothing comes out!


“LifeXchange is attempting to navigate between these two islands.”

LifeXchange is attempting to navigate between these two islands, to adopt the best from both cultures and provide high quality services that show measurable results and impact, whilst not missing the people who are the heartbeat of our work, and making sure that every single person involved feels like a valuable contributor to the cause. So, if you have any advice or directions to give us, we will love to hear your experiences of visiting these islands and what to get out of them. Maybe you can even help us to be the bridge-builders between them!

by Tammy Mewes

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