Please Note: As a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 course dates and planned formats may change at short notice. 

Strengthen your transformative capacity to leverage Systems Change

In the context of an unprecedented global pandemic, Systems Change has become increasingly topical. Rather than assume to fix a problem in isolation, Systems Change is the collection of frameworks, tools, and theories that are applied to transform the system that creates it.

As the pandemic surfaces brutal societal inequalities, governments, economic sectors, health systems, and communities are struggling to balance the pursuit of meeting urgent needs while ushering in sustained change into the future. Systems Change and Social Impact is a specialised online short course, convened by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the UCT GSB, designed to give public officials, leaders of social enterprises, founders and funders exposure to the most recent developments in how to bring about sustained positive change.

This interactive course equips participants with the tools and frameworks to navigate complexity and strengthen their capacity for transformative leadership and collaboration. It promotes local and global networking amongst change-makers and provides a unique community of practice that will serve participants far beyond the duration of the course.


1 March – 3 May 2021


15 February 2021


R14 000


Systems Change is the deliberate attempt to address social and ecological problems at the level of the system that causes them. Rather than assume to fix a problem in isolation, Systems Change acts to transform the system that creates it.

The Bertha Centre, a specialised unit at the UCT GSB, convenes this course as part of its efforts to advance the social innovation and entrepreneurship sectors in Africa and globally. The Systems Change and Social Impact course draws upon the Centre's collaboration and research with the Rockefeller Foundation, Schwab Foundation, Motsepe Foundation and Transforming Change programme.  Lecture-based and workshop-style sessions are delivered by a diverse representation of ground-breaking systems practitioners and academics. And, as such, the curriculum is a unique blend of global systems-innovation cases and frameworks.

Decided that this is the programme for you?


“This Executive Education course at the UCT Graduate School of Business is for leaders of social enterprises - non-profits or for profits. They come together and learn about the ultimate question: How to scale the impact of their organisations beyond the boundaries of their operations, shifting systems and solving social problems.”
- Francois Bonicci, Founding Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

 “Systems Thinking enables us to navigate the complexities of poverty, climate change, gender-based violence, to name a few. By getting all these changemakers in a room together; funders, social entrepreneurs, policymakers - the idea to is capacitate them with a common language and resource set that better positions them to think and work collaboratively across sectors and therefore initiate positive systems.”
- Ncedisa Nkonyeni, Course Convenor of the Systems Change and Social Impact course


If you have made your decision and you are ready to apply for this course, please click here.

If you’d like more information or if you have any further questions, please click here. You will receive an email with a link to apply to this course.

You will benefit highly from this course if you are:

  • A senior leader or manager in a social enterprise or non-profit organisation
  • Policymaker with an interest in promoting social entrepreneurship ecosystems
  • Funder seeking to become more effective in grant-making and investing
  • Leader in private, public, and civic society 

Delegates on the Systems Change and Social Impact course will gain:

  • An understanding of how social entrepreneurs, funders and policymakers are embracing systems thinking
  • Tools and frameworks to look beyond the scale of individual organisations to transform sectors, systems and societies at large
  • Exposure to best practices of leading social benefit organisations
  • An opportunity to interact with ground-breaking systems practitioners and academics
  • An opportunity to be part of a growing network of change-agents better able to effect transformation in their systems of interest

This interactive eight-week course offers a rich learning experience that blends theory and practice as well as off-line and on-line learning.

Participants will have the opportunity to listen to pre-recorded lecture sessions on the core topics when it is most convenient to them and then during designated class times, they will then virtually engage with the speakers from those videos in large and small group discussions. Additionally, there will be a set of “deep dive” sessions around specific cases or niche areas of interest that participants will have an opportunity to choose. Participants will watch the short videos prepared by practitioners for these sessions, which are designed to drill down and apply concepts to their real-world experience.

Core Topics Include:
  • Fundamentals of Complexity in Theory and in Practice
  • Understanding Foresight/Futures thinking for Systems Change
  • Building Partnerships & Collaborations for Systems Change
  • Building Advocacy strategies for Systems Change
  • Innovative Financing
  • Organisational change for Systems Change
  • Strengthening systems sensibilities for systems work

Deep Dive Sessions include: Building strategies within organisations; creative advocacy strategies; unusual partnerships/collaborations; inscaping and social innovation; and inner work.

Which days & times of the week should be blocked out to attend the sessions?

  • Pre-readings: reading / video viewing / audio preparation for each week consists of approximately 1.5 hours per week
  • Assignments: submission of assignments/participation in discussions 2 hours per week
  • Virtual Class Sessions (2hrs) per week from 3pm SAST / 9AM EST to 5 pm SAST / 12PM EST.
  • Weekly Mentorship Circle (30mins) per week from 8am SAST to 9am SAST.

How many hours per week will be dedicated to the course?

  • 6 hours in total

Will the course be synchronous/asynchronous?

  • Asynchronous parts: Pre-readings and assignments
  • Synchronous parts: Orientation Week, Virtual Class Sessions and Mentorship Circles

What percentage of the course will be self-directed learning?

  • 70%

What are the rules for certification? 

  • 80% attendance of both mentorship circles and virtual classes
  • 80% completion of assignments

15% for 3 - 6 applicants (discount applied from third applicant)

10% for 7+ applicants (discount applied to all applicants)

10% for alumni of UCT GSB academic and Executive Education courses

Course Convenor

As the Social Systems Innovation Lead, Ncedisa convenes the Bertha Centre’s Systems Change and Social Impact Executive Education course. She also curates the Africa regional hub of the global Systems Play team - a support and resource node for change-agents aspiring to position their innovations at systems’ tipping points. She teaches Systems Change on the Graduate School of Business’s(GSB) MBA and MPhil programmes, and partners locally and globally with leading academics and practitioners to facilitate systems innovation capacity-building, case generation and exchange all over the world. Currently reading for a Masters in Philosophy in Inclusive Innovation at the GSB, her research is around the relationship between collective embedded agency and institutional change.


The Systems Change and Social Impact course can be customised to suit your organisation’s learning and development needs and can be delivered anywhere in the world, wherever it is convenient.