Learner profiles: Donovan Stevens

Donovan Stevens (43) is a business adviser from Cape Town,  South Africa. He studied for a diploma in business management and entrepreneurship with the Galway-based Mooc provider, Alison

Donovan Stevens (43) is a business adviser from Cape Town, South Africa. He studied for a diploma in business management and entrepreneurship with the Galway-based Mooc provider, Alison

Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 02:19

Donovan Stevens ( 43) is a business adviser from Cape Town in South Africa. He studied for a diploma in business management and entrepreneurship with the Galway-based Mooc provider, Alison


“I wasn’t the most fortunate of kids growing up but you can’t let your past hold you back. I always wanted a higher education but the opportunity wasn’t there when I left school. I started out as a labourer with Telekom, a telecommunications company here in South Africa. After three years, I was seconded to their human resources department as a training co-ordinator.

“I set up my own business as a business advisor for a number of years. In the meantime, I was also volunteering at a charity and was asked to apply for a job there. I got that job but in 2011 the programme I was working on was discontinued and I was unemployed for four months. That’s a tough situation to be in.

“I ended up applying for a position as a business adviser in the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda). Although I had completed various short courses and had a certificate in HR management, I didn’t have a diploma so I couldn’t be employed on a permanent basis. I was on a contract and my contract was due to end in March.

“I needed to get a diploma but higher education is very expensive. I was looking online for scholarship opportunities when I came across Alison. At first it seemed too good to be true. In South Africa we have a saying, nothing is for mahala, or nothing is for free, but here was this organisation offering a diploma in business management and entrepreneurship for nothing.

“I signed up and quickly realised that it was the real deal. It was challenging. I worked during my lunch break and in the evenings. It was great to be able to call HR and let them know that my diploma was on the way. That was a proud moment.

“The possibility of my becoming permanent in my job has greatly increased. I’m now doing the diploma in HR management. I’m hoping to get to degree level as my eventual aim is to do an MBA. Alison was my saving grace.

“I believe that if companies are serious about corporate responsibility, they would sponsor certificate and diploma parchments from providers like Alison. There is a charge for the parchment which is entirely fair but education and qualifications are the key to progress for people in the poorer areas of the world. Companies should get behind this sort of thing. It’s much more empowering than traditional charity.”