Audrey Hepburn (1929 – 1993) once quoted “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”. One can only be inspired by the life and legacy of this remarkable person, most notably for her considerable work for the international children’s relief organization UNICEF. It is however the spirit of this particular Audrey Hepburn quotation that captures the beautiful garden that has been constructed at the new home of TSIBA Business School in Woodstock, Cape Town.
The very core of TSIBA is to believe in tomorrow. Towards this, TSIBA has provided fully funded tertiary education to talented and ambitious young students from at-risk communities for almost two decades. As described on the TSIBA website, “The philosophy of this institution is to remove all barriers to access quality tertiary education, while recognising that access is the entry point only. Inside TSIBA, our approach is to hold education as a catalyst for the best of what people can be. The core subjects which underpin excellent business education are necessary and provided in full here. But they are not sufficient.
TSIBA goes beyond by placing attitude, leadership and entrepreneurship as credit bearing subjects at the heart of all of our curricula. On completion of their studies here all graduates of TSIBA have deeply explored the questions of what is my work, what is success, and how do I add value. These are the questions we all must answer. The answers build each of our own unique stories and they build our citizenship. When this is achieved the outcomes are profound, especially in the communities where TSIBA proudly has its roots.
On route in this journey of self discovery, TSIBA students are encouraged to explore their own connection to nature and the environment. This approach to business education has never been more relevant. People, profit, and the planet must form equal pillars of importance in conducting business. In this endeavour we are reminded of the words of economist, educator and peace activist Kenneth Ewart Boulding with his wisdom that “Anyone who thinks you can have infinite (business) growth on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”. As a business school we thus hold a huge responsibility – to grow business leaders such that business may be conducted successfully in a thousand years, and in healthy social, economic and natural environments.
The reconstructed Marina Garden at TSIBA House is beautiful for its location at the heart of Woodstock, it’s 500 year old Milkwood Tree (the Treaty Tree), and the many other indigenous trees recently planted here, including a young Erythrina Lysistemon (Coral Tree), Syzygium guineense (Waterberry), and many Aloidendron Barberae (Tree Aloes). But beyond its aesthetic, the vision for this garden was to provide a physical representation of the critical connection between the natural environment, business and business education. The garden creates an appealing space for students to relax in as well as a natural green space which many of our students do not experience within the communities from which they emerge. But also, such spaces provide important learning for the respect of, and appreciation for, the natural environment. For a business school, and in terms of the crucial connection between environment and business, the particular focus area of SDG 12, such a perspective is more important now than ever.
Written with thanks to the MariaMarina Foundation who provided the funding to build our garden.