Francois Bonnici


How do you take a decade of work in paediatric medicine and humanitarian/development programmes, as well as experience in public-private partnerships in health and development, and turn it into an innovative academic programme?  By founding the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship.



In 2011, François founded the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business. The Bertha Centre seeks to inspire and challenge individuals, organisations, and systems to question what is, reimagine what can be, and get behind and deliver innovative solutions that have the potential to transform Africa. Since then, R3 million worth of scholarships have been awarded to African students who are passionate about innovation for inclusive development, and numerous  partnerships have been established with government agencies, foundations, companies and international institutions working on the continent, resulting in the launch of several social innovation hubs at UCT and in a public sector hospital.

Most recently, Francois has launched UPSTARTS with the Vice Chancellor of UCT to challenge the university’s 25,000-strong student body to become innovation activists and create collaborative, multidisciplinary teams to develop real solutions that create a positive future on the African continent.

“The Tutu Fellowship has given me a much more grounded, reliable and nuanced understanding of society and national issues in many African countries - through the incredible family of sisters and brothers - which drives deeper impetus for collective action across national boundaries.”

Bertha Centre