Ralph Gordon Freese is a personally resourced and networked individual with practical experience garnered from a wide range of developmental, business and applied science projects, having a deep engagement with the philosophical modelling of societies.
He was born on the Cape Flats, educated by diverse teachers, and now serves on boards of both developmental NGO’s (the arts, housing, financial), and businesses.
He enjoys complex processes, reads widely, and loves the mountains, beaches and wines of the Cape.
His life project is to understand how we, as a society, come to be here and to contribute practically to shaping where we go.
Scientific Services (Pty) Ltd. (1980-1989). Started as a laboratory assistant, became CEO, owning 25% of equity. The business consulted in multi-disciplinary applied science with a focus on mining (exploration, modelling and metallurgy), and consulted/managed projects in a wide range of industries, primarily in South Africa, but also in Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Mozambique, with minor volumes of work from Canada, Russia, Australia and Central African Republic.
Time Quantum [TQ]. (Start up in 1995, sold 2004). The group at that stage employed approximately 350 people, and turned over about R140 million per annum. TQ was 80% black-owned, and 70% black-managed, operating in consulting, project management and body shopping in IT.
A highlight here was the purchase and delisting from the JSE of Crux Technologies. His personal role became that of non-executive chairperson.
Grand Parade Investments [GPI]. (1998 - 29 June 2012). One of a team of four who started GPI – initially a BEE partner to Sun International South Africa in the Table Bay Hotel and Grand West Casino, with more than 10 000 Western Cape- based shareholders. Now listed on the JSE, with a broadening portfolio of investments. His role, currently, is non-executive member of the Board of Directors, and chair of the Audit and Risk Committee. He also fulfilled the role of Company Secretary for two years.
Spier. (1996-2004). Chaired the boards of the holding company, as well as subsidiaries and various not-for-profit entities engaged in the arts. This included Winecorp, which at the time was invested and engaged in all aspects of the wine industry , exporting over a million cases per annum. One of the businesses was listed on the JSE until it became necessary to restructure the group.
Voorhoede. (2007 to the present). A 1 700 hectare farm, focusing on wheat (500 hectares), trout, and now wine. Purchased 26% in 2007, and he hopes to spend most of his declining years living on the farm.
Jazzart Dance Theatre (http://www.jazzart.co.za) A training organisation, with contemporary dance as the means. Role: member of the Board of Directors, with responsibility for finance.
African Leadership Initiative [ALI]. (http://www.africaleadership.net) and (http://www.aspeninstitute.org). Aristotlean leadership development group, rooted in the Aspen Institute (Colorado, USA), and active through the Aspen Global Leadership Initiative [AGLN], in very interesting parts of the world. Member of the Board of Directors and sits on the Selection Committee.
Development Action Group [DAG]. (http://www.dag.org.za) Urban sector NGO with focus on deriving housing, spatial and land policy from practical experience in delivery in very poor communities. Chairperson of the Board of Directors. He as resigned at the end of 2011.
The Kuyasa Fund [Kuyasa]. (http://www.thekuyasafund.co.za) Microfinance NGO which has delivered R1.6 billion of housing to LSM 1-4, consuming less than R30 million in doing so. Currently operating in Eastern and Western Cape, with plans to expand nationally. Kuyasa started as a housing NGO, utilising microfinance to test this gap in our policy framework, but found that the sources of finance measured us in microfinance terms. We are in the process of shifting our internal measures, and focus. Role: founding member of the Board of Directors, on the Finance Committee.
The Africa Centre (http://www.africacentre.net) Africa’s heritage is curated anywhere but in Africa. This is a small attempt to address the consequences. We have had activities in about 8 countries and manage some significant arts interventions in South Africa. Role: founding member of the board.
Personal Affects. Exhibition of SA Contemporary and Performing Arts in New York. Designed to build brand South Africa in specifically targeted communities.
Lead “scientist” in titanium sands project in Malawi (1990-1991).
Ran ANC Projects Department in the Western Cape, and sat on the (powerless) National Finance Committee which broadened his understanding and access greatly. (1992-1994).
Engaging with the Aspen Global Leadership Network, through the Aspen Institute in Colorado.
Fundraising for various entities in Europe, USA and China.
Fort Hare University – Managed the design of and recruited the first head of the new Department of Technology and Engineering.
He can co-ordinate, with empathy, and across social and academic boundaries, the work of multi-disciplinary teams.