ConceptLink was founded in 2008 by Jerryanne Heath. Since then she and her team have worked with a variety of nonprofits and businesses, all making important contributions to the global community.
In this brief Q&A, Jerryanne tells her personal story, why she started ConceptLink and where the company is headed.
Jerryanne, tell us a bit about your personal background.
I’m originally from the Caribbean and grew up in New York City. My parents are teachers and ministers and they instilled in me the values of education, faith, integrity and giving of time and talent to others. I had the opportunity to attend some of the best public schools in New York, including Stuyvesant High School, and eventually went on to the University of Pennsylvania where I studied City Planning and Community Economic Development.
Why did you found ConceptLink?
As a woman of African descent, I have always had a life-long passion for the African continent and its diaspora communities. ConceptLink is the result of my personal desire to use my skills, networks and business acumen to make a positive contribution to African communities. There are 1 billion people in Africa, plus approximately 200 million Africans in the Diaspora. In my view, that equals 1.2 billion opportunities to make a difference.
Every entrepreneur has an “Aha” moment. What was it for you?
In the final year of my Master’s program at Penn, I volunteered in South Africa with Habitat for Humanity. In just one week our group of 15 people built two homes for needy families in a township outside of Durban. I was really inspired by how a small investment of time and funds could make a significant impact in an underserved community, especially in Africa.
That experience stayed on my mind for years as I crunched numbers and evaluated investment opportunities at a Wall Street firm. I knew that I had to find a way to return to Africa and make a difference.
So in 2007 I declined my employer’s offer to extend my contract. I committed to ploughing the skills, networks and business acumen I had gained into developing the African continent. After about 6 months of research and exploring a few ideas, I founded ConceptLink in early 2008.
Where do you envision ConceptLink in 5 years?
My vision is that ConceptLink will be recognized for transforming the social sector through an exceptional level of professionalism and rigor. We will be widely regarded as the partner of choice for nonprofit organizations and companies that are leading positive social change across Africa and beyond. Though our current team works in Johannesburg and New York, I see us expanding to establish regional offices in other US cities as well as in Southern and East Africa. Most importantly, I envision that each of our clients will achieve much greater impact in their community.