US-based South African expat Charlene Lingham has joined the board of SA Harvest. Along with her passion for social impact, Charlene brings a unique blend of insights and experience based on her background in entrepreneurship and growth marketing.
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day on 8 March, Charlene’s appointment to the board of SA Harvest reinforces the value of women leaders in leadership positions. Charlene joins founder of OzHarvest and expat Ronni Kahn as the second woman on the board of SA Harvest. Founded by Alan Browde in 2019, SA Harvest has, in its first 31 months, delivered 18,8 million meals and rescued 5,6 million kilograms of food from going to waste.
Global digital marketing
Charlene was born and raised in South Africa where she co-founded the global digital marketing firm, Clicks2Customers, in 2003 with her husband Vinny Lingham. Clicks2Customers won the Top Technology Company award in South Africa in 2006 and several other awards for innovation in the USA. Charlene moved to Silicon Valley in 2007, where she worked as a growth marketing consultant for Facebook and various startups. Charlene also worked with community-driven Silicon Valley organisations to help grassroots social impact initiatives. She now spends most of her time leading global social impact projects for the Lingham Family Trust.
Charlene was formerly the US-based ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Institute, and was responsible for hosting and organising the first-ever international fundraising event as part of the Mandela Centenary Celebrations. Attended by over 100 people in San Francisco, the event raised over R1 million for the Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development. Charlene’s commitment to social impact has also included mentoring high school students through Build.org.
Commenting on her affinity with SA Harvest’s mission, Charlene says, “SA Harvest has created a model that’s sustainable. They want to get out of the business of charity and they’re addressing hunger through a collaborative approach to create a system that fights two problems simultaneously – climate change and hunger. SA Harvest’s model is based on the premise that hunger exists not because we don’t have the resources to fight it, but because we’re not collaborating to connect those resources to where they are needed. In the case of both climate change and hunger, the solutions can be found through the redistribution of resources. If we look at waste and how we share our resources, we’ll be in a different position as humanity.”
Charlene’s goal in joining the SA Harvest board is to create a network of impact, and to bring a community of expats together. “Being in California and having the benefit of seeing how other organisations are doing similar work here, I’m hoping to bring ideas to the table and to give SA Harvest more exposure through digital marketing efforts like virtual events.” Charlene’s skills in trend analysis and partner marketing will be valuable assets to the South African food rescue organisation.
Putting the fun back into fundraising
One of Charlene’s visions for her contribution to SA Harvest is to put the fun back into fundraising, and to create opportunities for expats whose heart is still firmly in South Africa to contribute to SA Harvest’s long-term goal of ending hunger in new and different ways.
Charlene is married to Vinny Lingham, a well-known South African internet entrepreneur who is also a Shark on Shark Tank South Africa, and co-founded The Silicon Cape Initiative in Cape Town back in 2010. They also have a venture capital fund in SA and provide employment through the fund.
They live with their two sons in the US and both have strong ties to South Africa, returning often to visit family. “It’s important to me that our children learn about the opportunities for change and that things can get better. They may live in California but they’re global citizens with roots in South Africa,” she says.