and inspiring people that I ended up finding my path in life. By teaching and encouraging the learners in the township school in Port Elizabeth I realised that I could be successful and give back through becoming an educational entrepreneur,” Lili explains. Social Entrepreneurship and Giving Back Lili is a committed philanthropist and social entrepreneur. She established the Rara Avis Foundation in 1996 to support talented students and help them to achieve their full potential. This was achieved through providing gifted students with bursaries, with the financial help of corporate sponsors, for Excellent Achievements in Academics, Music and Sport. “I have always been a social entrepreneur first and a business entrepreneur second, as business was the mechanism I used to create change in education in South Africa and soon, globally,” concludes Lili. The way people access education has changed dramatically over recent years, with online learning now becoming more popular than ever. But as the new global environment becomes more competitive and knowledge-based, millions of people without online access are getting left behind. Lili Niemann has built her career on redressing the balance by making quality learning accessible to all. eCUBE Online is Lili’s latest venture, reinforcing her dedication to innovation and entrepreneurship. The new online service will eventually offer nearly 1,000 varied courses that will be available to candidates all around the world, any time, any place, through any mobile device with an internet connection. The Impact of COVID-19 on Education Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the move towards online learning is more critical than ever as the world faces the challenges of isolation and blended learning. The move towards online learning comes at a pivotal time for South Africa, which is currently facing many economic challenges and a significant jobs shortage as well as critical pandemicrelated obstacles. However, Lili and her team of passionate, dedicated educational professionals are focused on making quality education as easily accessible as possible. Her latest online educational platform further solidifies Lili’s commitment to innovation and change in education. 24 www. ceotodaymagazine . com The Motivation to Start “I had a vision. I saw this huge education centre, with people streaming in and out, day and night, talking about all the wonderful things happening inside the centre.” At the dawn of the new South Africa – the first democratic elections, 28 years ago – Lili Niemann started a Saturday school, Ed-U College Port Elizabeth, teaching extra classes for township learners. Today, E-Squared Education has educated more than 37 000 students ranging in age from six to 80 from pre-primary school to university level. Lili’s vision is for E-Squared Education to become a world-class organisation – a global provider of relevant online learning via the eCUBE online platform. E-Squared also seeks to become the world’s foremost education centre and an Institution which creates entrepreneurs who are job creators,not job seekers. Lili hopes to make education even more accessible by taking her courses online, thereby making a world-class education possible for local South Africans and the world, and to produce self-motivated individuals who are ready to tackle the next phase of their lives, whether in education or the corporate world. It Starts with Passion In 1994, while conducting research for her Master’s Degree in music, Lili Niemann began investigating the link between music and maths. After spending time at a few Eastern Cape primary schools, Lili discovered that many of the township learners were behind, especially in the area of mathematics. This situation resonated with Lili, who then decided to start a Saturday township school where she could help disadvantaged learners catch up with their peers. “It was through my passion for education CEO Today Gl oba l Awa rds 202 2 Lili and her team of passionate, dedicated educational professionals are focused on making quality education as easily accessible as possible.