top of page


E30 Cover Art.png
Posted on December 19th, 2022
Co-founder & CEO of So They Can, on 'Ubuntu'

My guest on this episode is Cassandra Treadwell, Co-founder and CEO, So They Can and Co-founder, CEO, Essence of Humanity


So They Can is a not for profit organisation operating in Africa, committed to empowering children living in poverty through education.

Cassandra’s career background is medico legal, gaining her masters degree in medical law and ethics from King’s College, London University. While she has enjoyed living overseas, she chose to come back to Wanaka, New Zealand, to raise her 4 children in the same nurturing community she grew up in. She also loves living in New Zealand for the running, tramping, skiing and general outdoor lifestyle it enables.


Having spent a year in Argentina on a student exchange when she was 16, Cass spent time at an orphanage and was confronted for the first time with poverty in the developing world. The injustice affected her greatly, and sculpted her future career choices and charity involvement. As a new mother this empathy took her back to the communities of East Africa that she had become acquainted with while travelling, and a drive to improve the lives of some of the world’s most impoverished children whose families suffered deprivation and displacement due to political violence.


Working in Africa now Cass gains so much from the people she works with, as she describes in her Tedx talk. The community has taught her to be grateful for what she has got rather than focus on what she has not got, the children have helped her to live in the present and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, and the communities of Kenya and Tanzania have taught her the value of Ubuntu (I am because of you) and the importance of global balance.


Cass was very honoured to be nominated for the 2015 New Zealander of the Year and to be one of the final 10 people that were considered for this prestigious award. In 2018 she was a finalist in the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.


This is a conversation that I will carry with me for a long time. It’s not often I find myself brought to tears (of empathy, inspiration and hope) in an interview. Cass is more than an inspiration, I think she’s a role model for what an individual can do when they allow themselves to feel empathy for our fellow human beings.


Cass speaks with such humility but there are some big truth bombs in this interview. Here are some of the things we explore in our conversation


  • Cass introduces us to the African philosophy of “Ubuntu” (a Swahili word) – I am because of you; how our personal wellbeing is deeply connected to the wellbeing of others

  • Cass shares the outcomes of the work of So They Can, supporting 33,000 children across 47 schools plus alongside some of their other programs, including microfinance for women, impacting 45,000 people overall

  • Cass shares one story after another story, bringing to life lessons in Ubuntu, through the classroom of Africa

  • She highlights the abundance of emotional wealth in these communities despite the lack of material wealth and what this teaches her

  • She shares the compelling story of how So They Can started – after seeing a movie – Hotel Rwanda

  • She takes us on a journey to the IDP (Internal Displaced Placement) camp she first visited, housing Kenyan refugees and how she responded to their request to her to set up a school

  • She shares her back story and what took her to Africa in the first place, looking for a project to support 

  • Cass shares the unique model behind So They Can, pairing an ex-pat with a local, taking the time to understand what is needed from both outsiders and the people on the ground to bring mutual understanding to the process

  • Cass talks powerfully about her mission to change the definition of charity from the idea of the great white saviour to the truth that it is a reciprocal exchange and partnership of emotional and material wealth”

  • Cass shares and invites listeners to get involved in So They Can’s latest campaign “One in a million” – asking ppl to give just $1 a month. 

  • She highlights what success of this campaign will enable – moving from 47 schools – 33,000 children to 500 schools empowering 400,000 children

  • She shares that Neil Finn from Crowded House, who is one of So They Can’sambassadors – has written a song to launch one in a million

Connect with Cassandra and So They Can here:



Join the 1 in a million campaign here

FLAM ebook and hard.png
bottom of page