Welcome to Renaissance Strategic Solutions
At Renaissance, we passionately believe in the immense promise of South Africa and the entire continent. We believe that Africa can be the continent of the 21st century. To that end, Renaissance seeks to bring out the best in businesses, government departments, organisations, and individuals working in Africa. We offer a variety of services to our clients so that this promise can be realised and the inherent potential of Africa can be unleashed. Renaissance acts as a thought partner to our clients, with whom we co-create solutions so that they can achieve their objectives. We enable people and organisations to flourish.
Kim Robinson - The Driving Force Behind Renaissance
Kim Robinson leads Renaissance with integrity and by example. Her African experience is deep, broad, and varied. Her experience includes clerking for the Constitutional Court of South Africa, working for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, running a South African NGO, a stint as in-house counsel for USAID, and teaching and advising on ethics in Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. She has also worked in Swaziland, Lesotho, and Kenya.
A Fulbright Scholar, Harvard-educated attorney, and senior strategist, her work in the legal, capacity building, and creative spaces enables organisations and people to flourish.
Kim is highly skilled. She is an attorney, an internationally accredited commercial mediator, a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and is qualified to administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. Kim is accredited to mediate and resolve disputes through the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, London and the African Centre for Dispute Settlement, University of Stellenbosch Business School. In 2015, she was named an Associate Producer of Akin Omotoso’s award-winning film, Tell Me Sweet Something. More recently, Kim has joined the Council of Advisors of Kgololo Academy, a preparatory school in Alexandra, Johannesburg.
Kim’s deep and long-held belief that only the best is good enough for Africa drives her standards of performance, excellence, and integrity.
Kim Robinson is a New Yorker by birth, proudly South African by marriage, and a global citizen by choice.
America is still wrestling with racism. One of my earliest memories of injustice involved a 10-year-old Black boy being shot in the back by a cop in my neighborhood in Queens, New York. I was 8. So the race issue has always loomed large. South Africa’s constitution is clear about a future that rejects racism. I had studied about South Africa. City University of New York, where I studied, was one of the first schools to divest its investments in South Africa. I remember where I was when Nelson Mandela walked out of prison. When I was at Harvard and had the chance to apply for the scholarship. It would be a chance to spend time in a country trying to build a non-racist, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous, and united society, it was a no-brainer. I jumped. I figured: what can I learn? I’m still learning. I applied for the scholarship. I made it through the competitive process and got the scholarship. The rest as they say is the future.
I’m a hybrid. I bring a synthesis of skills, perspectives and experiences to bear on all the work that Renaissance does. When I work with clients, I’m trying to unleash potential. There’s listening, dreaming, imagining, analysis, co-constructing the future. So skills and experiences from being a lawyer, strategic thinking and someone who can imagine work together. We are all multi-dimensional. I bring all of these dimensions into my work.
It’s connected to seeing Africa fully realised as the continent of the 21st century. We tell a lot of stories that limit us. Words matter. Ideas matter. How we are represented matters. When we tell different stories about ourselves, we can change the conversation. We can change ourselves. I want to help tell stories that affirm Africa – not that idealize, but show our complexity and nuance.
I want to inspire a complex self-love, not chauvinism, not superiority. Not belief in our perfection. But a self-love that enables the love of others. A gentle pride and abiding confidence that enable us to explore, pursue, and realise our possibilities. To enable us to flourish.
I’m a New Yorker by birth. I can probably go anywhere on this continent and people will have seen an image of New York. In this way my home town and I are affirmed. Yet, if I asked New Yorkers about images of a particular African city, they would be clueless. So Africans are not affirmed. Even fellow Africans don’t know what other African cities look like. This can’t go on. We have to know ourselves and each other.
On the other hand, as a Black woman, realistic, complex cultural representations of women like me in popular culture are rare.
So at the same time I have the experience of being affirmed in some ways and not affirmed in others. I experience both privilege and discrimination. I think this contradiction sparks a certain positive rage – I am dissatisfied with the present, but also able to see a better future – and feel it is my due. The contradiction gives me empathetic imagination.
About Renaissance Strategic Solutions
I had been living and working in South Africa for a while and gaining lots of experience. I worked for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy and then was headhunted by Teresa Clarke, then of Goldman Sachs, to run a local NGO. After leading the NGO, I decided to offer my skill set to the marketplace. I have a long-term commitment to Africa. I believe that Africa can be the continent of the 21st century. I thought that offering my skill set through a company would be the best way to contribute to that vision.
I talk a lot about “flourishing.” It’s the common theme in all I do. By flourishing, I mean “to actualize.” When people and organisations working in Africa flourish, the continent will flourish.
Renaissance is a reference to the African Renaissance. It also refers to the fact that we are multi-dimensional – as individuals and as societies. I also offer a variety of services – like a Renaissance person. It also harkens to the creativity of a renaissance.
We face a range of challenges. It is through deep creativity and the valuing of each person that we will derive the answers to solve the most pressing issues that face us. I’m a lawyer and generally a Type-A character. But, I know that the left side of the brain will not be enough to enable us to address all of our issues and progress. We need creativity to imagine a greater future and how to achieve it. There’s an alignment between the scientific and the creative – look at Leonardo da Vinci.
It’s dumb. They aren’t split. There’s a connection between the rational and the imagination. Look at the technology we have. What came first the science or the creative idea? The idea is created first. Then science, technology, and engineering catch up. There were communicators on Star Trek long before there were cellphones. Yet if no one imagined that idea, we might not have the technology now. One feeds off the other and supports the other.
And our stories of what we’re doing are important. South Africa will be the home of the world’s largest scientific instrument, the SKA Telescope. We’re not telling that science story. People think Africa and then are not thinking of our continent as a site for innovation and technology. Yet it is. If you start telling this story, then what is possible is sparked. Imagination and creativity will give rise to more scientific and engineering successes.
Robots may be able to manufacture things, but they cannot create in an artistic matter – that is from a place of emotion.
It is through deep creativity and the valuing of each person that we will derive the answers to solve the most pressing issues that face us. I’m a lawyer and generally a Type A character. But, I know that the left side of the brain will not be enough to enable us to address all of our issues and progress. There’s an alignment between the scientific and the creative – look at Leonardo da Vinci.
There is structure and discipline in creating. There is structure and discipline in the process of getting the creation from idea to production – which may look business-like. They’re not opposites. You need both.
My passion is human flourishing. In all the work that I do, this is the common theme.
The approach is to be open to learn from our clients and co-create solutions with them. Because I’ve worked in the private sector, government and NGOs in the US and Africa, a variety of experience is present.
I’m an insider-outsider. I’m not from Africa, but it is now home. I’ve been lucky enough to have a long history here. If my luck continues, I’ll have a long future here. I can see potential in Africa where many people don’t.
I encourage anyone interested in our services, to book a consultation.
When people start a new job they often get an induction or orientation that includes a manual of policies and standards of conduct. Often, nothing sticks. Our approach to this is ethics education with some imagination and energy. Our training is ongoing, reality based and connected to values – the person’s and the organisation’s. Once you talk about values and the conflicts between them you start a conversation that people can feel and believe. As a result, they understand why there are standards and what they mean besides getting disciplined.
I meet people at eye level and shape the content based on the audience. So I don’t put senior management in the same room with middle management or with junior administrative staff. I shape the content and pitch for each group and provide scenarios relevant to their work. The issues are not the same for everyone just because they work at the same place. This is key. Otherwise you face a couple of immediate problems. First, everyone is silenced because the boss is in the room. Second, what you teach does not land because learning is not happening. You’re just droning on and conveying information at a common denominator that doesn’t exist.
This is why you often have breaches in conduct. People don’t understand the rule or the reasons behind them. The rules wash over them and don’t stick.
Our training engages and provides a framework for employees to continue to talk about ethics.
People are generally good and want to do the right thing. And no one benefits from ongoing strife and disciplinary problems at work. We help businesses, organisations, and government departments have dialogues so that ethical behavior becomes part of the DNA.
I am passionate about ethics – what could be really dry. I don’t just read out the rules. I am creative. I think that the fundamentals are important: integrity, accountability, good governance, and compliance with policy are key to optimal performance and stakeholder confidence.
Ethical breaches are global. Yet, they seem to present greater challenges in our context than elsewhere. What if boards and decision makers in the public and private sectors throughout Africa were consistently honest and transparent and adhered to law, regulation, and good public policy? I believe that it would be a game changer for the continent. There would be increased investor confidence, lower costs of doing business, and greater delivery to citizens. This is the continent I imagine. And this is part of the spark of my passion for ethics training.