Walking Together To Create The Future Communities Want

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As Alchemy matures in its role as a unique platform for creating meaningful progress towards thriving and sustainable communities, Lefa La Rona Trust looks at what is needed to facilitate a more coherent future for community development

From inception, Alchemy’s community trusts and non-profit company have been defined as partners that will enable truly transformative development within the communities they serve. Given our shared vision to create thriving and sustainable communities beyond mining, we are here for the long haul, walking every step with our communities and like-minded partners. Therefore, as we move past the tenth anniversary of establishing Alchemy, we know that for this bold programme to be successful we cannot be passive partners that simply fund projects, nor can we do it alone.

As one African proverb states, if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far go together. Looking ahead at the future in delivering on Alchemy’s vision, we hope to have many friends join us on this journey as we create together the change that will free the communities we serve to live the lives they want.


Lefa La Rona was founded in 2011 as an umbrella trust to hold R 3,5 billion in shares issued under the Anglo American Platinum’s (AAPs) community empowerment initiative called Alchemy. This unique equity ownership scheme aims to benefit over 5,2 million people near AAPs operations and within its labour-sending areas. Alchemy’s bold vision is to facilitate broader development at a community level to ensure sustainable and thriving benefit communities through and beyond mining.

Within the wider Alchemy family, Lefa La Rona has been specifically charged with supporting the four Community Development Trusts (CDTs) and Non-Profit Company (NPC) to meet the requirements of their founding charters.

Alchemy Lefa La Rona Communities

One of the key requirements set out by the founder was that the CDTs and NPC should ensure their activities are well-informed and best placed to assist the communities they serve. The founder’s intention is for the CDTs and NPC to build on this foundation highly capable strategies that both direct and mobilise additional resources along a well-defined path to transformative and sustained long-term development.


Many community organisations and structures collaborate with a wide range of partners. While often labelled as partnerships these relationships tend to focus on access to resources to support a task that both parties can claim was beneficial. It could be argued that such collaborations are more transactional than true partnerships characterised by a shared effort towards a common goal. Moreover, these relationships tend to end when the funder moves on to the next cause having made their investment and measured their short-term returns.

While this may meet the need of many development and implementing agents, such transactional relationships fall short of the joint effort needed to realise Alchemy’s vision.

Under its Impact by Design Strategy, Alchemy partners would ideally work with the CDTs and NPC to understand how to enable, amplify or accelerate shared community outcomes in a coherent way. As such, a key defining characteristic of an Alchemy partner would not simply be a common interest in an area of concern but rather a shared way of thinking about how to create community-led change that is both transformative and long-lasting.

This understanding came about while Alchemy was developing its Impact by Design Strategy. It was noted that some organisations invested in sharing their approach to problem-solving with the communities that host them, not only to build an understanding of their work but also to create a pool of like-minded people that would increase the community’s capacity to benefit from their people resources. Keeping in mind that Impact By Design in essence is a set of core principles that enable taking action to reduce the effects of difficult-to-solve problems in a community, it offers an ideal opportunity to share the strategy with like-minded partners.

This opportunity can also be framed by its value in building collaborative leadership and community knowledge systems that enable community-led development. So often efforts to apply a community-led approach to development start and ends with a list of needs and cherry-picking of projects. Therefore, we need to be mindful that true community-led development is not transactional but rather a closer relationship in which partners walk together to deliver on a shared vision of a community’s future.


Alchemy has many points of contact that offer an opportunity to build stronger partnerships. These include community structures and leaders, management partners, implementing partners, local and provincial government partners, in-kind resourcing partners and local organisations serving the same communities as Alchemy.

While it may be tempting to engage all these partners at once, practically this is not feasible and may hinder progress. Drawing from the Impact by Design Strategy building these partnerships would likely benefit more from a Small Wins approach. This implies that as opportunities arise Alchemy can engage based on the demonstrated value of its work. By extension, this also infers that every point of contact with Alchemy should be seen as an opportunity to share the value of Impact by Design and develop partnerships that draw on its value to work towards shared goals.   

One such opportunity has already arisen from Alchemy’s work on defining its Impact by Design Strategy. This involved sifting through global practices linked to Collective Impact Development and transformative change to develop a fit-for-purpose configuration. Through its co-resourcing strategy, Alchemy worked with Nelson Mandela University’s Faculty of Health Sciences as a knowledge partner to draw on their work in creating a sustained impact in host communities.

As a result of this reciprocal exchange, the Faculty’s expanded Zanempilo programme has many of the hallmarks of an Impact by Design Strategy. Given its role in higher education, the Faculty also developed a hybrid short-learning programme to help foster the transformative competencies needed to make their new expanded programme a success. Aimed at their students, staff, government partners, and local organisations, this more direct approach to sharing how to create the desired change is also an opportunity for Alchemy and its partners to share in the foundational knowledge and practical skills that underpin Impact by Design.


As part of its goal to build a knowledge system linked to its Impact by Design Strategy, Lefa La Rona has actively documented various aspects of its work. This includes case studies, desk references, various tools and community profiles. Many of these documents are available on Lefa La Rona’s website.

Lefa La Rona also facilitates sessions to share and explain the principles behind its strategy with interested groups. Through this exchange, it is hoped that both Lefa La Rona and its partners can build on their knowledge and experiences to further enrich a shared commitment to long-lasting transformative change. 

Lefa La Rona Contact: Mr. Reza Bardien


Case Study Author: Dr Andrew Crichton


Impact Case Studies

Interactive Community Profiles