Meet Lynda Smith: Social Entrepreneur


Lynda describes herself as a social entrepreneur. She graduated from the inaugural class of the GIBS Social Entrepreneurship Certificate Programme in 2009, which aims to impart the necessary business skills for creating powerful, systemic change to build effective and sustainable institutions – Lynda offers her clients a “business-school brain with a social worker’s heart”, with the overall vision that guides her work to see people empowered. Lynda’s understanding of leader is also not limited to the adult arena. Her span of world reflects what she calls a “cradle to grave” mindset, whereby she involves herself in work involving both the ECD (Early Childhood Development) space as well as work in what she calls the “Refirement” space, which caters to mature individuals wanting to impact society in a meaningful way. More specifically, Lynda has a passion for children, women in leadership and understanding how we as South Africans can unlock skills development and grow the economy. To Lynda’s mind, the social landscape of South Africa will only be transformed when South Africans internalize the importance of their role in developing future generations.


My Definition of Success | The journey and definition of success has changed for me over the years. In my thirties and forties my success was defined by the values I instilled in my children and simultaneously designing a work and business life that matched what I was passionate about. Now in my late fifties I have moved more towards significance and making a difference to those around me.

My Highlights | The birth of my children changed my life and career path. I became passionate about parenting and early childhood education and have spent most of my working career in this field.

My children are now independent, loving adults who have married and have families of their own. I am proud of the journey we have walked together and the values I see in them as adults.

My role at Smile Education as the National Sales and Marketing manager where we built a sales force of 4000 women educating parents and changing the lives of children between 1992 and 2003.

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The journey from 2003 till 2007 of helping take the MySchool Card from pilot to a national campaign that monthly creates money for schools.

The establishment of my own business called Refirement Network that hopes to influence many South Africans over 50 to take on a second career to bring change to the social sector of South Africa using their talents, skills and passion.

My own current Refirement career where I am the CEO of a Not for profit company called BrainBoosters. Our goal is to educate parents and ensure that all children in South Africa are numerate and literate by grade three.

My wonderful circle of friends and family who enrich my life.

The Difference Between Good And Great | It takes perseverance, humility and time to achieve results. Life is a journey with many valleys and mountain tops and in the valleys of life we need to rest in faith, stay the course and keep our eye on the horizon. This is not easy and many times means going against the status quo.  Persevering and climbing back up the mountain is what separates the good from the great.

A Key Talent | I am an optimist and always look for the good in any situation. With this skill I often see opportunities long before other people do and with a sense of risk and courage have made a few life changing decisions that have helped me to strengthen my position. We all experience crossroad moments and having the courage to step out in faith and begin a new journey is not an easy choice. I have weighed up the situation and then taken the leap a number of times. It is never easy but often for me has been the necessary step to move out of my comfort zone and start something new. These decision collectively have grown my world, experience and relationships.

Critical Skills I Develop | I was naturally more left brained and task driven as a young adult. Over time and working within a sales environment I learnt that influence and caring for others would strengthen my relationships. I am now much more people orientated and love watching others develop and grow. Strong, gentle firm leadership enlarges the scope of what is possible and I celebrate the fact that I have learnt these important lessons.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I am now 58 and would like to continue to work in a leadership role with BrainBoosters for a number of years helping to build public-private partnerships to ensure that the next generation of children in our country are numerate and literate and that we will begin to produce more Grade 12 learners who can go on to study and move out of poverty. The wealth gap puts us all at risk as a Nation and we should collectively understand that unless we help bring change we are all in trouble. We have a collective responsibility to be active citizens.

I would like to be able to travel and educate others on the BrainBoosters program. We have an innovative global solution that can be shared with other developing Nations as well as ensuring that funds flowing to South Africa to help change our education is used effectively and that children are the beneficiaries.

I want to help educate Corporate South Africa about how to engage their older workers to plan a REFIREMENT career. Many will live healthy lives for another 25 years beyond 55 and can benefit both personally as well as leaving their own legacy in their area of passion and skill.

The Meaning Of Life | I believe each of us is unique and born with a set of specific talents and gifts inherited from our parents. As we move through the journey of life we learn lessons, gain experiences, impact others and over time learn that helping others brings a sense of fulfilment within that cannot be bought with money. I am a Christian and have found a peace that passes all understanding by ensuring that my vision and goals are aligned to my calling. Financial stability and education are goals that we should all strive for as well as building strong lasting relationships with a wide group of people in our lives. Our circle of influence starts with our own family and then moves to our community and wider sphere of influence.

I Am Inspired By | I am inspired by a wide range of people. I love to read about successful people who have made a difference in their world. This may be a world famous figure or a humble individual who has quietly been courageous and made a difference even if just to one human being. I admire many who find their calling early in life and step out in faith to make a difference. I also admire those who are finding innovative ways late in life to bring change to their communities.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | My passion and career has been, to date, in the early childhood sector and I hope that over time I have made a difference for many children, parents and communities through the people and work that has been done. This is done one child and one parent at a time and one never knows the impact that the future will bring but hopefully collectively their lives will have been impacted positively.Our greatest legacy is left in those closest to us through example, values and love.

I hope to continue to add value to lives until the day I die. Through Refirement Network I hope to influence 5% of baby boomers in South Africa to take on a second career for a ten year period and help bring major social change to our country. This is around 100 000 people each giving 10 years of work and service and equates to ONE MILLION Years of change.




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