“If you can dream — and not make dreams your master; If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim.” — Rudyard Kipling

Lara Erasmus



Organisation / Company

Lifting Dreams NPC


As the director of Lifting Dreams, Lara Erasmus, 30, helps to provide quality academic assistance to underprivileged communities. She drives the recruitment, training and mentorship of the team of tutors who run Saturday classes. Lara establishes relationships with the communities where they work so that programmes can be tailored to their specific needs. She helps to develop volunteer networks to ensure learners receive individual attention while paid tutors lead classes. Sourcing funding for tutors, transport and food is part of her job. Lifting Dreams, a nonprofit and black economic empowerment organisation, reaches an average of 500 learners every week for maths and English lessons.

The project creates jobs for tutors, who are often from less-privileged backgrounds themselves, while they pursue their studies. “In this, our tutors come full circle as a living, breathing example to our learners that their futures can be bright,” Lara says. In addition, she has an advisory role at The Riverfields Foundation and LoveStruck, charities that focus on upliftment through various efforts such as housing, medical support and education in her hometown of Kempton Park. In addition, Lara runs her marketing and communications company, Creative Konsortium.


  • B.Com Investment Management (Cum Laude), University of Pretoria
  • B.Com (Honours) Investment Management, University of Pretoria


I’d like to keep this answer within the realm of Lifting Dreams. We recently received a significant donation, which, though modest compared to many non-profits, allowed us to enhance our Saturday academic assistance by appointing paid contract tutors to lead classes. Inspired by Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, we prioritised recruiting the right people, above increased infrastructure or anything else. This led to over 150 applications, resulting in the appointment of our first seven tutors in September 2023. We had previously been 100% volunteer based. Though we are very grateful for our volunteers and they still play an important part in our programme, dedicated tutors empowered us to increase consistency of teaching, relationship building and ultimately the quality of assistance received by learners.

Working with these passionate and highly skilled tutors has taught me the incredible value of collaborating with individuals who share a vision and a mission, rather than necessarily adhering to a specific CV template. Getting the right people “on the bus’’ is the first and most important step towards reaching and surpassing your destination. Everything else is secondary.

In addition to the above, this project has also created essential employment opportunities for these talented students, often from less-privileged backgrounds themselves, whilst they pursue their professional degrees. In this, our tutors come full circle as a living breathing example to our learners that their futures can be bright.


My parents, Lardus Erasmus and Irma Erasmus, stand as unparalleled examples of hard work, selfless service, and excellence. Growing up in an entrepreneurial household instilled in me the courage to challenge the status quo from a young age and believe in the profound impact individuals can have on communities.

Hardy Oliver, a former banking tycoon in South Africa turned business owner in France, profoundly influenced my outlook. I was privileged to volunteer at Hardy’s guest house in France after completing my studies and before embarking on my professional journey. Despite his status, Hardy always made time to genuinely listen to everyone, whether they were guests or cottage hands like myself at the time. His embodiment of kindness taught me the importance of valuing people and making them feel valued. Hardy’s late-life pivot from banking also underscored for me that it is never too late to embark on a new path.

Susan Matthews left a lasting impression on me during the three-year period I spent travelling and working odd jobs overseas. I met Susan while teaching in Korea, and though she was reserved in demeanour, she epitomised dedication to her family and community. Through her example, Susan taught me that impactful contributions do not always require the loudest voice at the table.