South Africa FlagCommunity =  Co-Creating Ecosystems | Trans4m Fellows

Emil Nothnagel:“renew and advance
the economic development of communities”

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu
“I have a burning desire to constantly engage in academic pursuits to innovate, renew and advance the economic development of communities in Africa.” Dr Emil Nothnagel

Through my integral studies and current consulting business, I am engaging myself passionately with local governance structures where I share my knowledge and utilise my facilitation skills to activate integral communities.

It is often said that knowledge is power. However, knowledge is power only when it makes a difference to people’s lives. I have a deep aspiration to make a difference in the lives of my fellow human beings, our communities, our African societies and the world at large, using as vehicle local economic development in the South African context. I have been inspired to develop products for local economic development through my consulting business, AFlead. I will be using the application of these products as the integral research-to-innovation kick-off for the unfolding development of my PhD in Integral Development.

My life, and subsequently my career, took a profound turn during September 1997. A black lady, Mamma Yoyo aged 61, uneducated and clearly impoverished, entered my office one day. She passed the security, walked right up to my desk, looked me in the eyes and said, “Emil, please help me to help myself”. I could sense by experiencing her enigmatic presence that she was an entrepreneur at heart, trapped in the political environment. The only challenge was to guide and nurture this entrepreneur into a creative space, so that she can grow into the entrepreneur she was born to be 61 years ago.

Her soul spoke to me. I offered Mama Yoyo some coffee and we had the most amazing discussion. I took her picture on that same day and realised that for the first time I had interacted with a woman representing the community I was supposed to serve as Municipal Manager. Up until that point of time, I had focussed only on infrastructure development as per our legislation, and as a municipality we had forgotten to simultaneously stimulate economic activity amongst the previously disadvantaged communities. I had come to the realisation that in the roll out of the new legislation, we had forgotten a crucial element, namely the creation of an enabling economic playing field for the Mama Yoyo’s.

I decided there and then that if I support and nurture Mama Yoyo’s entrepreneurial skills, we could “grasp her potential” and together build economic freedom, symbolised in the photo by the nutrition of a ripe orange, for her and many others. That decision then also inspired my own current research on local green economic development in Africa.