Nature always wears the colour of the spirit

Our main purpose is to identify, support and reward individuals and organisations in all sectors of society

Champions of the Environment Foundation (Champions) is effective in rural areas working with traditional leaders (Chiefs) and Headmen who are able to bring immediate relief to the community.  Assisting people who are often last in the supply chain to receive goods and services.  To date we have brought assistance to approximately 31 institutions including clinics, hospitals, and centres of care in the Eastern Cape.  As the schools reopen in the winter months and the restrictions are eased, social distancing, hygiene and nutrition takes on a new importance not only to the vulnerable but learners, teachers, and all admin staff.


Champions is actively involved in distributing food parcels and PPE in addition to raising funds on a continuous basis.  However, this practise is unsustainable post COVID-19. Our mandate is to create capacity for sustainable food, water, and energy security, especially in under-resourced provinces.  Due to the extreme need for food security, vulnerable areas in Gauteng have been added to the list.  The initial area of emphasis is partnering and training youth activists in permaculture and plant propagation.  We are confident that in the medium-term this strategy will advance constructive behaviour towards the health and nutrition of local communities.  Especially women and children.


  1. Overall project aim – ensuring environmental sustainability via skills transfer and education

Considering the importance of food security in South Africa, it is a priority to raise the populations levels of nutrition. Encouraging young mothers (18-35 years) with children (3-6 years) to take part in planting, growing, and harvesting enough healthy and nourishing food, to meet their personal dietary needs and preferences for an active healthy life.  Knowledge is transferred to the child, mother and grandmother by practical learning and executing the following tasks; 

  1. Outcome – lesson and reward process

Champions believes that appreciation of nature often starts when people have a chance to see things grow.  Stimulating interest, dreams, and career opportunities such as environmental management, photography, nutrition, tourism, organic markets, landscaping etc.  As a community project, the mothers take part in working and coordinating the vegetable gardens on a voluntary basis. They are rewarded by knowledge sharing, skills transfer, fresh vegetables and fruit and the opportunity for self-improvement. The young mother is able to obtain additional opportunities for herself and her family in the safety of her community. 

  1. Project impact

Emphasis is on people as the key role players, reducing poverty, transferring skills, environmental education and providing lifestyles and facilities in harmony with the natural habitat.  This project has the potential to contribute to significant job creation and economic growth. Promoting the green economy and manifesting a dignified life for all people, especially in underdeveloped rural areas. Prioritising aspects of the National Development Plan (NDP) includes addressing climate change via adaptation.  Meeting South Africa food, and water security, transitioning to a low carbon economy, mobilising renewable energy opportunities, hence reducing South Africa’s carbon footprint.

  1. Vulnerable communities

Creating a sustainable impact on the most vulnerable people in South Africa i.e. single mothers with children, grandmothers who care for the family, and impoverished unemployed breadwinners of families suffering in situations beyond their control.  Hopefully in the near future creating independent communities who decide not to experience the undignified action of begging, standing in queues for hours and the disappointment of being the first in line to hear the dreaded words “the food is finished we will try and come back another time for you”.  Post COVID-19 food security demands for our children and fellow South Africans will become an imperative as people who have lived through the pandemic will be angry and frustrated.

Our Story

Champions of the Environment Foundation (Champions) was formed in 2008 to address South Africa’s need for an all-inclusive, apolitical body driving ethics, justice, and transformation.  Our aim is to involve stakeholders from each sector of society to support and protect all living things for the benefit of the whole community and future generations.  

Steered by executives who work towards building stakeholder trust and confidence, bespoke projects advance the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).  Partnerships include Department of Environmental Forests and Fisheries (DEFF), Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), National Lotteries Commission (NLC), individual Traditional Leaders and international foundations.

Emphasis is placed on empowering women and youth from under-resourced communities to reach their personal and economic potential.  Providing equal rights to women to access economic and natural resources, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, including the benefits of technology and the opportunities brought about by the  4th Industrial revolution (Industrie 4.0).


A long and rich history of researching and designing complex projects focusing on;

  • Establishing ecologically sustainable communities by implementing effective systems of governance
  • Creating employment opportunities in the field of conservation, land rehabilitation, and protecting the natural environment.
  • Promoting public awareness and respect for South Africa’s diverse and rich cultural, religious, and natural heritage.
  • Preserving and protecting the environment to ensure the sustainable development for current and future generations.
  • Recognising the balance between the environmental, economic, and social components for sustainable living with an emphasis on food, water and energy security.

We are cognisant of the balance between the social, economic and environment for sustainable living with an emphasis on food, water and energy security while promoting the importance of renewables.

As a compliant service provider Champions is registered with National Treasury Central Supplier Database (CSD) ensuring good financial governance and peace of mind to our partners viz. international foundations, public and private sector donors.  Champions’ main purpose is to raise and disburse funds, bound by the laws of South Africa, King III / IV, the National Development Plan (NDP) and specific objects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

In order to run the business effectively and efficiently, the following compliance certificates are in place and current.

Champions of the Environment Foundation NPC – Co. Reg. No. 2008/007274/08

  • Public Benefit Organisation # 930 036 191
  • B-BBEE Level 1 – 100% black beneficiaries

Meet the Team

Terry Pheto, an actress and producer best known for her leading role as Miriam in the 2005 Oscar-winning feature film Tsotsi and the Nelson Mandela story, Long Walk to Freedom as Mandela’s first wife Evelyn, Terry Pheto passionately believes in a green economy and in preserving and rehabilitating the environment to create a sustainable lifestyle for present and future generations. Understanding climate change and the negative impacts on food, water and energy security, her advocacy leans to rural South Africa and women and youth empowerment. She views environmental education and practical learning as imperative to the health of our planet. In 2017, she leads the International Achievement Recognition Awards (IARA Awards) as the most nominated actor this year with three nominations.

Bantu Holomisa – Parliamentarian,  is the architect of the Foundation and Non-Executive Chairperson,  His passion and commitment to environmental issues stretches back to his days as a young boy in the Transkei, finding further form during his time as deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs in President Mandela’s cabinet in 1994. He holds strong views that everyone is responsible for the natural environment and that it needs to be protected leaving a sustainable legacy for present and future generations.

Thandi Nontenja, was appointed to the board of Champions of the Environment Foundation in 2016, where she has complete oversight of the governance and financial reporting. Nontenja is a strong civic minded person, active in Women’s organisations and a member of People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA). She grew up in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape and matriculated at Colana High School. A stickler for detail and figures, she has several diplomas in bookkeeping, accounting and business management, as well as leadership.

Stella Helwick with over 25 years of comprehensive experience in marketing and new business development has a thorough understanding of environmental issues facing our communities. Her skills include conceptualising, developing and integrating policy into business strategy. She sees sport, tourism and the natural environment working together to create a sustainable South African economy. Her passion is land rehabilitation and in business this includes promoting and implementing the green economy and the National Development Plan (NDP).

"When we invest in the youth, education and the environment we are guaranteed that our returns will be celebrated in a world that we can all be proud of tomorrow" – Terry Pheto

What We Do

Champions of the Environment Foundation (“Champions”) raise and disburse funds promoting socioeconomic transformation and the Green Economy (GE).

Assisting Change

Establishing ecologically sustainable communities by implementing effective systems of governance to promote conservation, rehabilitation and to protect the natural environment.

Promoting Awareness

To promote public awareness and respect for South Africa’s diverse and rich cultural, religious and natural heritage through education and skills development.

Encouraging Conservation

Preserving and protecting the environment to ensure the sustainable development for current and future generations.

Successful Projects Gallery
Why Sustainable Development Matters

Our Partners

Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) launched the Regional Sustainability Network (RSN) in January 2018.

 The Network was born out of a need identified by HSF to play a greater role in response to Climate Change on the African continent and based on the findings of consultative workshops held with HSF staff from different project offices around the world, RSN came into being.

In recognition of Africa’s particular vulnerability to climate change, RSN aims to make the complexities of climate change more visible and facilitate better preparation in terms of policy, capacity and dialogue to address climate change in Africa.

Organizations working in the area of Climate Change, Environmental Sustainability as well as Energy were identified, linked together and afforded the opportunity to dialogue, exchange knowledge, learn from one another and work towards formulating solutions in a collaborative and inclusive manner.

RSN is hosted in Nairobi at the HSF Kenya and it is expected to run for a period of three years from 2018-2020. The project covers the following 9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Kenya
  • Ethiopia
  • Djibouti
  • Tanzania
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ghana
  • Togo
  • Namibia
  • South Africa

RSN aims to make a contribution to the achieving of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement through:

  • Enabling a strategic, innovative and efficient information exchange between actors in Africa in the thematic area of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability
  • Establishment of a database that showcases new and ongoing initiatives and partnerships in the area of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability and maps these partnerships
  • Capacity building of partner organizations for active and innovative future design

The goals of the project are:

  • Strengthening of institutions and networks throughout Sub-Saharan Africa that work in the area of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability

The NLC is also mandated to distribute funds in a way that strategically supports the objectives of the National Development Plan.
The NLC carries out activities to ensure that funds are put to use successfully.

The Grant Funding Model is designed to promote and support the NLC’s strategic mandate by responding to socio-economic problems and leverage on opportunities through strategic funding. The key principle of the NLC’s funding model is to utilise NLC capitals to create opportunities for communities to realise their potential. The funding model is driven by an overall objective to Fund for Impact to maximise return on limited resources. This involves researching, evaluating, monitoring and closing off all projects funded. 

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