Brian Whittaker was the founding Chief Executive of the Business Trust (www.btrust.org.za), a partnership between businesses operating in South Africa and the government. He serves on South Africa’s Human Resource Development Council and is Deputy Chairman of the country’s Jobs Fund. He has established, chaired, directed or managed a number of organizations for social and economic development. He recently set up the Vumelana Advisory Fund to structure partnerships between local communities and commercial investors.
The Business Trust managed close on R2bn (about $150 million) between 1999 and 2011 to improve public services in education, infrastructure and public works, and to support private sector development in tourism, business process outsourcing and community investment.
The Vumelana Advisory Fund was established to help communities who acquire land under South Africa’s land reform program to make that land productive by establishing partnerships with commercial investors. Brian is the executive director of the Fund.
When he left university, Brian served as a town planner. By the early 1980s he was the Deputy Chief town planner for the city of Johannesburg. He joined the Urban Foundation (South Africa’s largest private foundation) in 1982 and became an Executive Director in 1985. In 1995 he helped to merge the Urban Foundation with the Consultative Business Movement to form the National Business Initiative, where he was an executive director. In 1999 he worked with a group of business leaders to establish the Business Trust and has carried executive responsibility for the management of the trust since its inception.
Brian has a B.S. in Town and Regional Planning from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and an MA with distinction from the University of Lancaster in England. He lives in Johannesburg with his wife Joy, a social worker, who spends her time bringing the Zulu language and culture to non-Zulu speakers (and hatching travel plans).
In 1982 Brian decided to take two years out of his career as a Town Planner to spend some time “doing”? rather than “planning.”? Nearly 30 years later he has not been back. His energy has gone into building development partnerships that bring the resources and logic of business to the development of South Africa. When not doing that he is at the gym, on his mountain bike or under a 50-year-old car, unless his lawyer daughter, creative director son or bullmastiff decide otherwise.