In 1996, two young town planners from very different backgrounds reported for duty at a local municipality in Gauteng. Only two years had passed since the dawn of democracy in South Africa. A massive task awaited.
Johan Olivier and William Bila learnt about policies, legislation, Integrated Development Plans and Spatial Development Frameworks. They learnt about managing multi-million rand capital budgets and the thousands of cross-sectoral projects that fall within the scope of a metropolitan municipality.
They also spent hundreds of hours in community halls, churches, schools and dimly-lit township homes – listening and learning to look beyond policies and paperwork, boardrooms and big budgets. They shared a vision to see places transformed in a way that includes the people who call those places home.
Wear running shoes to community meetings.
This was one of the first lessons our founders learnt twenty-three years ago when one day, they had to flee from a community hall of angry citizens. On another occasion, William was barricaded into a church building with police and protesters outside.
In those heated gatherings, Johan and William learnt what no policy document or academic write-up could ever have taught them. That despite the frustration and the anger, communities in South Africa carry in their midst incredible strength, resourcefulness and energy. And that running away is never the solution.
In 2013, after managing their own urban planning consultancy for eight years, Johan and William established Ranyaka Community Transformation as a non-profit vehicle to pursue tangible, positive socio-economic impact in a way that actively engages the heroes who are already there.
Today, the Ranyaka team wears running shoes because we know that we’re running towards something that is worth pursuing. We pursue hope.
THE NAME ‘RANYAKA’ MEANS ‘TO PURSUE’
Meet our team. As you scroll down, you should know that many more names and faces should be listed here – those of the everyday heroes we have met over two-and-a-half decades and those we continue to meet every day. Without you, our short write-ups about our team members mean very little.
Thank you to every fellow South African who is working towards restoration, resilience and growth.
DIRECTOR, URBAN PLANNER & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST
Over the past twenty-five years, Johan has worked across the municipal, private and local community development sectors where he has been involved in projects on local, provincial and national levels. His experience spans the development of socio-economic investment plans, land use and spatial planning, spatial economics, community-based planning and sustainable development. In 2001, Johan was appointed to the position of Assistant Director responsible for the formulation and implementation of the City of Johannesburg’s Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework and Capital Investment Framework. In 2005, he co-founded Akanya Development Solutions, a town planning and municipal management consultancy and in 2013, Johan and other members of the Akanya team established Ranyaka Community Transformation. In 2017, Johan was also contracted by the United Nations Habitat Unit’s Global Future Cities Programme to serve as a Local City Specialist for the City of Cape Town. Johan holds a degree in town and urban planning.
DIRECTOR & URBAN PLANNER
William is the Chief Executive Officer and owner of Pretoria-based town planning consultancy, Akanya Development Solutions. He is also a co-founder of Ranyaka. William is a registered town planner with the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) and holds over two decades’ extensive work experience in projects throughout the country. These include land use planning, Integrated Development Plans, Spatial Development Frameworks, precinct plans and strategy formulation for municipalities. He has also served as a member of the Gauteng Development Tribunal. William is in the process of completing his Master’s in Business Administration.
CONSULTING URBAN PLANNER & CO-FOUNDER
Maggie is the founder of Motheo Resource and is a consulting urban planner to Ranyaka. Motheo is a Gauteng-based planning and project management firm focusing on the development of rural and township economies. Maggie provides strategic solutions towards achieving holistic and integrated development in communities. She has a passion for community-based planning, participatory planning and local economic development. She graduated with a B. Town and Regional Planning (University of Pretoria) in 2011.
ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT & COLLABORATION
Marli is the founder of Co-Create Consult where she assists entrepreneurs, NPOs and civic networks to design impactful programmes. Marli is supporting enterprise development and builds collaborations for Ranyaka. Previously she worked for the WWF for ten years as a corporate relations specialist. She graduated with a BTech Public Relations Management (Cape Peninsula University of Technology).
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
Sonya holds an honours degree in Business Communication from North-West University and has been working in the fields of marketing, public relations, publishing and event planning for the past 24 years. Her experience spans the government, corporate and non-profit sectors. She is passionate about storytelling and documentary photography.
SYSTEMS & OPERATIONS MANAGER
Susan holds over 25 years’ global experience in IT delivery, project management and process re-engineering within the product, financial and retail environments. Within Ranyaka, Susan focuses on systems design and operational project management, with specific strengths including stakeholder and risk management. Susan is also a certified Prince 2 practitioner.
Purdey holds 21 years’ experience in office administration and management within the corporate financial sector. She also spent three years in the employ of an NGO, serving as a facilitator to assist children with reading programmes. Purdey is currently working towards completing a degree in Psychology through Unisa and is passionate about community upliftment, building quality relationships and the development of people.
STAKEHOLDER RELATIONS & PROGRAMMES
Amy holds a diploma in Public Relations from UNISA and is studying part-time towards a degree in BA Political Science. Amy is a natural networker and has a passion for people development and promoting start-up and small businesses. She has a special knack for spotting opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. Before joining the Ranyaka team, Amy worked in the field of logistics and operations.
Joanne has accumulated 27 years’ experience in strategic planning, predominantly in under-resourced areas. She has worked for government at various levels, as well as in the private and non-governmental sectors. Her passion is to collaboratively uplift communities and living environments so that they are safe spaces that provide full amenities to their residents. Jo holds a Bachelor of Science in Town and Regional Planning (WITS).