Matie Voices

Suta Kavari

Alumnus of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences

“My biggest motivation in life is betterment – of myself and my community and contributing to that.”

Suta Kavari’s career has evolved over the last few years before and after graduating from Stellenbosch University (SU). He trained as an economist with a strong interest in the political economy of development. After completing undergraduate studies in economics in 2011 from the North-West University in Potchefstroom, he worked in the private sector for four years, first as a risk analyst and then as an investment strategist.

After a brief sojourn in late 2016 volunteering in Lebanon on social innovation projects tailored for Syrian and Palestinian refugees, he returned to Namibia and joined the public service as special assistant to the minister at the National Planning Commission in 2017. Here he formed part of the core working group that drafted Namibia’s National Development Plan and served as adviser to the Namibian delegation to the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. Concurrently, he chaired a policy advocacy think tank.

Suta graduated from SU in December 2018 with a postgraduate diploma in sustainable development. His time at SU, and in particular at the Sustainability Institute, was some of the most formative experiences of his life. “SU provided a space for thought provocation and a place where I could explore my intellectual rigour. Studying at SU offered immense opportunities of engaging faculty insights and research from a wide spectrum of perspectives.”

He was fortunate to be called to faculty (part-time) at the School of Public Leadership while at SU, where he designed and facilitated two modules that formed part of the University’s first transdisciplinary undergraduate diploma in sustainable development. “Facilitating the learning journey of 50 undergraduate students was a tremendously humbling experience, which highlighted the transformative power of education,” he says.

It was also at SU where Suta had the great privilege of working with former public protector, Prof Thuli Madonsela, the Law Faculty Trust Chair in Social Justice, on her ambitious Mosa-Plan for Social Justice. Suta coordinated the establishment of a thematic think-tank and dialogue on social justice, which was aimed at building towards a master plan that would provide the basis for policy recommendations to government.

Currently, he helps companies in Namibia with rethinking sustainability in their organisational culture and how they can embed sustainability into their stakeholder engagement corporate social responsibility strategies. In addition, he also does consulting for NGOs and later in 2019, he is taking up an offer to read public policy at the University of Oxford.

Most of the work Suta have been involved in came from a very strong desire to contribute to positive social change, to uplift the destitute and those left behind. In Lebanon, Suta together with volunteers and activists, worked on projects centred on social entrepreneurship and creating sustainable impact through supporting Syrian and Palestinian social entrepreneurs. He says the refugee crisis had devastated hope and potential, and they saw their role as creating space for some of the brightest minds to find unique ways of creating sustainable livelihoods.

“I see the work that I do working on the formulation of policies as experimentations of thought in imagining equality anew. This has allowed for deeper engagements with communities and helped me better understand the plight of so many people, and this has in turn allowed me to think about the greater societal good,” Suta says.

“My biggest motivation in life is betterment – of myself and my community and contributing to that. My goals in life constantly evolve with more exposure and learning. Post-Oxford, I have a deep desire to work with the public service on tackling the challenges we face and bridging the implementation gap that has resulted in policy failure.”

- By Elbie Els -