A window into the world of Carmen Mohapi, CEO of Aware.org.za.

What motivated you to take the reins at Aware.org.za? And how does your personal purpose align with its mission?

I’ve always dreamed of making an impact and “one day” heading up a non-profit that would help heal our beautiful country. After 15 years as a marketer in the alcohol industry I was privileged to be asked to take on the reins at Aware.org leading it into a new chapter where we use data to drive strategy and behavioural science to positively shift the way alcohol is used in South Africa.  My “one day” came sooner than I thought – an incredible blessing and privilege.

What are you hoping to achieve through your work? Can you share any specific strategies or initiatives?

I believe behavioural science is going to be a game changer in the way we restore our communities in South Africa.  This is a relatively new science and will certainly see South Africa taking a global lead.  As passionate as I am about all our Pillars: Don’t Drink and Drive, Sober Pregnancies and #No to Under-18, I would say I am most driven by eradicating the scourge of under-age drinking.  Failure to do so means failing a generation.  As a mother and an advocate for the youth, I cannot stand back and allow that to happen.  Similarly, not only is preventing FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) critical to secure a positive future for our youth but addressing the stigma that these innocent young people face in their communities is imperative.  Last but not least, as we call on a “whole of society” approach to “being the change we want to see” we are partnering with JMPD to meaningfully support enforcement to eradicate Drinking and Driving in Gauteng.  What I’ve learnt as a marketer, is it’s much easier to get a positive response to our message when motivating instead of creating fear.  Our aim: make responsibility cool!

How do you support and inspire your stakeholders to navigate the difficult balance between profit and social responsibility?

Thankfully, our stakeholders have offered us the independence to single mindedly focus on the responsible use of alcohol. As such we don’t have to wear two hats in trying to drive profit and reduce the harmful use of alcohol.  I am privileged to be supported by a Board and team who truly believe in and support our mandate.

Who or what has inspired your career journey the most?

Growing up in Eldorado Park, a township in the South of Johannesburg, I was struck by how complex life can be – even for individuals living next door to each other. I inherited my work ethic from parents who worked tirelessly to send me to the best schools both locally and internationally.  While my amazing brother has taught me the value of giving back and that we can change the world.  His selflessness has been, and continues to be, an inspiration.  I believe if I can make a difference to one life, then mine will be a life well lived.

What advice do you have for other leaders who want to make a purpose-driven impact?

I think every leader, every person who works in a team or is exposed to people, can make an impact – whether it’s with a kind word, mentoring or even just a smile.  We all have the ability to make life a little better for someone.  I believe we all have an internal spark and voice that tells us what our unique contribution can be to the world… we just have to be still enough to listen and brave enough to act.

Share This