InnovaBuzz #107: Annabelle Chauncy, The School For Life Foundation

Annabelle Chauncy, The School for Life Foundation

Annabelle Chauncy, The School for Life Foundation

In this episode, my guest is Annabelle Chauncy, co-founder and CEO of the School for Life Foundation, which is a not-for profit organisation that runs 3 primary, secondary and vocational schools in rural Uganda.

The School for Life Foundation’s mission is to empower communities to help themselves and create their own opportunities.  To do that, they build schools to provide education, vocational training and other services such as employment and healthcare services.

Stephanie Lorenzo in InnovaBuzz #103 recommended we interview Annabelle, who started the School for Life Foundation with her co-founder David in 2008 and has led quite rapid growth in ten years.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

You don't have to be the best at everything straight away, you need to be able to admit what's not working and then pivot quickly to make it work better. @achauncy on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Annabelle Chauncy of the School for Life Foundation

Key points and take-aways from this episode include:

  • The School for Life Foundation was born when Annabelle was in Uganda, where she found people in desperate need of access to education.  She wanted to make a difference and identified this as the way to deliver that sustainably.
  • In starting up the Foundation, she explored what others had done in a similar space and what mistakes they’d made and learned from.
  • The School for Life Foundation aims to empower local people to help themselves through education. They provide employment, education, capacity to develop many vocational training skills. The foundation is somewhat like an ecosystem, in that they also provide meals, healthcare, energy provision, all required to run the schools.
  • Everything that the foundation does, supports the mission of educating their community.
  • Having strong, empathetic leaders was key to the Foundation’s spectacular growth – people who can genuinely connect with, influence and inspire others.
  • The School for Life Foundation’s fundraising is based on a value exchange model – so donors get value from their donation, as do the recipients of the charity.
  • There is no greater gift than a quality education – no better way of changing somebody’s future and the choices that they’ll have.
  • As an entrepreneur, you need to deliver quality, sustainably. It’s better to deliver smaller and continue to deliver on that than to go bigger then just fall over in the process of too rapid growth.
  • As long as you commit yourself to the process of developing, growing and changing and be open-minded with the knowledge that you are going to make mistakes, you can deal with problems of rapid growth.
  • Right now, they are working on a combined community uplift and investment strategy, which has the aim to mobilize the community to become more productive by working with a variety of partnerships.
  • You don’t have to be the best at everything straight away, you need to be able to admit what’s not working and then pivot quickly to make it work better.
Keep learning. Keep asking questions. Keep being curious. @achauncy on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Annabelle’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative – Maintain a really active mind. Read as much as possible and talk to different people from different fields. Keep learning. Keep asking questions. Keep being curious.
  • Best thing for new ideas – Step out of the business to give yourself a bit of head space and bring in people from different realms to analyze your business. Have people outside the business provide some insights about your business.
  • Favourite tool for innovation – Have workshops and continue to bring your staff to the table.
  • Keep project / client on track – Have checks and balances and key milestones in place. Hold yourself accountable on the promises you have given. Any time a project has gone wrong it is generally about a lack of adequate planning.
  • Differentiate – Have a strong value proposition. Really, really identify what it is as a brand  or as an organization that you do, that is different and bring that to the full in all your communication.

To Be a Leader

Develop an attitude of flexibility. Be adaptable, resilient and be driven by what you want to achieve.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Annabelle via the School For Life Foundation Website, via email or via Twitter (@achauncy).

Suggested Guest

Anabelle suggested I interview Jordan O’Reilly, Co-founder and Director of Fighting Chance and CEO of HireUp, on a future InnovaBuzz podcast.

So Jordan, keep an eye on your inbox, for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Annabelle Chauncy.


Cool things about Annabelle:

  • She started the School of Life Foundation at the young age of 20.
  • She completed a Bachelor of Arts/Law at Sydney University and has been running the Foundation full time as her career to date.
  • She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2015 for her services to the Foundation and to fund-raising.
Look after yourself - if you are not good for yourself, you are no good for anyone else! @achauncy on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Listen to the Podcast

Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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