"One small act of kindness has a ripple effect as it reverberates in individual’s lives, in communities and ultimately in transforming the very fabric of our beloved country."

Photo of Jean - founder of the Philipe Foundation

Getting to know Jennifer Coles on Greenpeace's very ambitious Project Sunshine, a project to raise R100 000 to build solar-powered streetlights in Diepsloot,  gave us a glimpse behind the organisation's ethos. And as we anxiously wait for the installation of the solar streetlights this Women’s Day, we wanted to get to know the woman spearheading the Philile Foundation, Greenpeace’s partner in bringing renewable energy as a solution to communities. 

This Phenomenal Woman is born and bred in Johannesburg and her passion for education was nurtured by two influential women in her life. Her mother, a teacher who instilled a love for literacy and is still a confidant in matters of education. She taught her the value of being a woman of worth, dignity, and strength. Her grandmother, a woman from another generation but understood and encouraged independence and that a woman can be anything she sets her mind to. With such a solid and supportive network of women in her life, Jenn, as she is fondly referred to, was poised for greatness. 

In her time at the Philile Foundation, hundreds of children have donned in their graduation gowns and have stood proudly as they received their school readiness certificate and entered the world of primary education as confident, happy, disciplined children. The groundwork for lifelong learning already been set. She says, "The Philile Foundation’s purpose is to build a future generation and a brighter tomorrow for generations to come. It is an absolute privilege that I get to do what I do on a daily basis. Not only do I see the development and growth in our pre-school children but I also see our staff flourishing as they are empowered to take the lead in running our ECD Centre." 

Children with the teacher

Incredibly, the staff of Philile is predominately made up of women who are from the surrounding communities. Their formal training is sponsored as a part of the Foundation’s own commitment to empowerment and localised economic development. "These women are hard working, trustworthy, passionate, supportive of one another and love working for The Philile Foundation. They are dependable and reliable and well respected in their communities."

Children playing at the Philipe Foundation

These women are leaders in their own right and they are building the future of South Africa every day with the help of The Philile Foundation. A daunting, sometimes thankless task but worth every minute to make South Africa the country we envision it to be. 

Playground at the Philipe Foundation

This can take its toil, so Jenn shared with us her secret to a happy and purpose driven life:

Spend some time giving back to yourself every single day, women need to take the time to be quiet for a few minutes a day, to reflect and to recharge. Keep yourself excited with new possibilities of growth that will stand you in good stead for what your future holds. If a woman is emotionally healthy and whole – she can take on the world. She will live from a place of strength and confidence. Nothing will be impossible for her.

Ms. Jenn Coles is the CEO of The Philile Foundation


Greenpeace is working with the Philile Foundation to bring solar energy to a community that is visibly plagued by crime, but at the heart of it, is a community with hopes and aspirations just like the community that we live in. With the help of 249 supporters we were able to raise more than R100 000, now we're in the process of installing the solar powered streetlights.