Stephan de Beer
This profile was prepared when Stephan de Beer was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Stephan is building an urban movement of community organizations and civic participation that is supported by local resources and people. Stephan’s work is fueled by the value of “radical inclusiveness” and uses the diversity in cities as an asset rather than an obstacle. Most notably, he leads a social incubation unit in the inner cities of Tshwane, reaching over 30,000 people. Stephan believes that inner cities are uniquely positioned to model both racial and economic integration. The first step is celebrating and promoting the successes that exist but are too often overshadowed by negative realities. Then, Stephan uses the structure of the Tshwane Leadership Foundation to incubate, operate, and eventually spin-off community-owned restoration and revival projects that build necessary social infrastructure. This process succeeds by mobilizing local resources of all kinds and building locally owned institutions. Initiatives in operation include a care center for the homeless, legal aid, day care, and a social housing company which oversees 189 affordable units. Each project is designed to become a model replicable in other cities, and Stephan works with policymakers to institute them locally and nationally.