From the Roots provides a platform for creative leaders to fight injustice and strengthen communities. Through a range of programs and services we work to inspire social consciousness, empower young leaders, and build capacity for community-driven solutions.

It’s founders came together in 2011 as a group of struggling social entrepreneurs in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal to host a workshop for other local leaders on how they could help each other build local organizations that serve the community. Since then From the Roots have hosted conferences, invested in emerging leaders, and hosted exchanges between South Africa and the USA. Most recently From the Roots bought a house in Umlazi and turned it into a Base Camp, equipped with internet access, meeting spaces, and event spaces that are used for a variety of activities.

Our From the Roots Community is made up of activists, artists, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and citizens who confront systems of injustice and are actively involved in building better alternatives. We believe that people are more important than profit and our current global order does not reflect these priorities. We want to contribute towards the movement for freedom and dignity for all people. 

Together, we are building power to enact our collective agenda.

Phumlani (left), Sihle (center), David (right)
Meet the Team


Base Camp Director

Phumlani Ndwandwe grew up in an informal settlement in Umlazi, and has devoted much of his life to bringing resources to that community – from campaigning for government houses to be made available for people living in shacks, to educating young people in their human rights. He has worked with and led a number of youth development and civic organizations in Umlazi – driving initiatives to tackle HIV, establishing collectives of hip hop artists committed to driving social change, and more – and is currently leading an initiative to establish an alternative education system in South Africa for those excluded from the traditional system based on their race or socioeconomic background.

Sihle ndima

Fundraising & Marketing Director

Sihle Ndima (aka Mhligo) is a hip-hop artist and entrepreneur who has been engaged in youth-focused work since he was just 17 years old. Using his art to drive positive change for his community, he has worked with homeless youth through outreach and crisis care programs, brought new arts initiatives to schools, and even set up a music studio in his community where he mentors other young artists. Sihle’s leadership in his community has also attracted international partners as he has been chosen to lead youth groups to attend the Homeless World Cup in Brazil and to participate in youth exchanges in Europe.

David Flynn

Managing Director

David Flynn is the Managing Director of From The Roots. He lives in Chicago, where as the Director of Programs & Operations he was an architect of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation’s growth – leading program strategy and building coalitions in New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Atlanta as part of his belief in the power of collective impact. His frontline work has ranged from direct outreach to homeless youth in Chicago, to using basketball to build bridges between young people growing up in South African townships. He is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Adelphi University in New York, where he works with Masters students to develop entrepreneurship and innovation.