Meet Marsia

Marsia Reed is a woman with purpose. And hard work has never held her back from achieving her goals. Capetonian by birth, Marsia moved to Namibia in 1990 – the same year the country gained its independence. Today, through the Lithon Foundation, she is helping to bring love and hope to the people of beautiful Namibia by teaming with other charitable organisations, businesses and government leaders. Marsia recently took time out of her busy day to fill us in on her vision for the foundation, the language she’s learning and her favourite coffee spot. 

How did you move from the corporate world into the role of CEO of an NGO?

My career path has been an interesting one, taking me down many different roads. After moving to Windhoek in 1990, I worked at Rossing Uranium and Namibia Breweries before starting my own business in 1998. This kept me busy until 2008, when I became the sport organiser at Pionierspark Primary School before moving to Cricket Namibia, where I was responsible for all cricket development in Namibia, including women’s cricket. In 2013, I took up a position in the finance department at Lithon, eager to put my BComm qualification into practice. In 2014, at the Global Leadership Summit with Adriaan and the team, he shared that he believed it was my calling to lead the Lithon Foundation. In mid 2015, his words came to pass and today, I share my time between my role in the finance department and my position as CEO of the Lithon Foundation.

What is your vision for the Lithon Foundation in 2021 and beyond?

It’s been a tough year and we’ve had to rethink the way we do things to meet the challenges of a changing landscape. One thing that has remained unchanged, however, is our purpose, which is to bring hope and love to communities in need. And we’re striving to achieve this by enabling the many wonderful NGOs, FBOs (Faith-based Organisations) and CBOs (Community-based Organisations), in Namibia and beyond, to make a difference and multiply their influence. Because charities in Namibia aren’t required to register to secure funding, our focus this year is to compile a consolidated list of active organisations and help them get the funding they need. Wonderfully, the government has recognised these efforts and asked the Lithon Foundation to partner with the Ministry of Health to allocate funds for certain programs.

Can you tell us about some of the projects you’re involved with this year?

We have several initiatives on the go right now. The first motivates and nominates organisations to attend training programmes aimed at empowering welfare organisations in the community. We’ve also been running a webinar with Capricorn Bank designed to help organisations understand the importance of managing their governance more efficiently. And then there’s the ongoing food programme that feeds 6000 people every day. In 2016, we also started hosting breakfast sessions where we invited NGOs to share their stories with business leaders in an effort to help them create awareness and meet some of their most pressing needs. We’ve continued this initiative online since the beginning of the pandemic and it’s been incredible seeing how this networking opportunity has helped NGOs meet their needs – whether that’s been finances for a specific project, office space to share or a computer. And of course, if there’s ever an opportunity for our engineers to get involved, they’re always available to lend a hand.

What do you believe is the most important way NGOs can contribute to social change in Namibia?

I strongly believe it comes down to making an impact for life. And by that, I mean instilling good morals and values in our children and young leaders so that we raise a principled generation – one with the strength of character to turn its back on corruption and live and lead with honesty and integrity. We also see huge value in helping to create platforms that put charitable organisations and business in the same room and facilitate their working together to bring about change. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

Change is slow, which can be frustrating. And looking at the wave of problems facing our country can be overwhelming. But when you focus on the individual stories, you realise how much good is being done and the difference that’s being made. People working together can bring hope. And we are here, ready to give of our time and resources. Covid may have thrown us a few curveballs, but we’ve adapted and have been able to keep on making a difference for the people and organisations we support. 

What do you enjoy doing most when you’re not at work?

On the weekends, I start the day by walking our dogs and watching the sun rise over Farm Windhoek. It’s my thinking time and my space in the week to problem solve. I’m a huge coffee lover, and my weekday ritual, before work, is stopping past Slow Town, in Independence Ave, to enjoy one of their delicious cappuchinos and read my book. I’m also a committed CrossFitter. 

What would you like to achieve in your personal capacity this year?

I’m aiming to complete three short courses this year – I’ve just completed the first, a course in Oshikwanyama. I’m also planning to run a half marathon – my plan to do so last year was derailed by Covid.

What is one thing your colleagues don’t know about you?

I’m a born communicator who is energised by people, so I don’t think there’s anything they don’t already know!