Demonstrating his exceptional skills in engineering and design, alongside evident drive and business acumen, Mark Preston went from a degree in Mechanical Engineering and working for GM and Spectrum Racing Cars, to obtaining key roles in both the Arrows and McLaren F1 teams, and then creating the Super Aguri F1 team in just 100 days.
Now the Team Principal of Team Aguri Formula E racing in the second season of the FIA Formula E championship.
Completing his MBA at Oxford in 2006, Mark has also worked with Oxford University researchers who’ve benefited from his expertise in composites and high-tech design: he has consulted in commercializing spin outs from their research in marine energy and electric motor technology.
Such developments of his management skills in and beyond the realm of motorsports shows Mark to be an exceptional team player and innovator, ideally placed to manage and motivate workforces.
Together, his skills and experience combine to ensure that Mark delivers first-class business planning and start-up advice covering technical due diligence, operations management, and more – offering as he does a unique balance of commercial and technical understanding, achievement and ability.
Buying a Chipo for Life gift is simple and easy: this is how it all started…
When Jenny & John Preston first visited the village of Kalalasaka in southern Zambia, the village headmen conferred Tonga names in them: John’s name is Milimo – meaning Worker, and Jenny’s name is Chipo – meaning Gift. Friend Nell who designed the newsletter livery suggested we use the name Chipo to highlight that all the giving opportunities are intended to have ongoing effect on the lives of recipients.
For example the gift of goats is linked to a community management project whereby every 3rd progeny then goes to the next poorest household in a particular village.
Gifts of door or window frames will accelerate the building of a 3x 1 classroom for Kaanga Community School.
Each gift thus adds an extra dimension towards the opportunity for village children to flourish in life skills – including mathematics, reading & writing, history, health – food groups, hivaids, prevention of abuse, and local herbs and fruits.
If you are interested, please download this link and fill it in and send back to Kondanani Zambia.
The order form below can be printed out and sent to the email address shown.
Mark Preston’s description of Kondanani Zambia’s first visit to Kaanga: “My wife Isabel and I had travelled to Gamela and Kalalusaka to monitor improvements at the villages with the ZOCS team and Mayor of Choma and he asked if we would mind diverting on the way back to Choma to visit a small village of Kaanga where he, the Mayor, was very impressed by the effort and enthusiasm of the village, and he hoped ZOCS and Kondanani would consider supporting the school.
We travelled for what seemed like a long distance, but was actually quite short according to my GPS because the roads were so bad and the 4WD’s that we were travelling in had to travel so slowly to traverse the dry route (I can’t imagine what it would be like in the wet season).
What we saw when we arrived I can only describe as impressive: the effort that the village had gone to build schools houses, toilets and to begin to create the bricks required to build more school buildings. I was impressed by the effort that has already been put into the school and think it is a great project to support.’
Isabel alerted us to the fact that Kaanga is always cut off from the rest of the country when the rivers flood. You’ll notice Isabel standing by the piles of bricks ready for the building of a 1 x 3 classroom block.
Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) reports to us that already the community has a full Parent Community School committee in place, which demonstrates their willingness to be active in the school development plan. ZOCS suggests that income generation activities of chicken and goat raising will be of assistance to this community. (as supporters will recall the goat scheme has been of great value in numerous communities.)
Presently at Kaanga there are 96 male students, 128 female students, with two male volunteer teachers. The Parent Community School Committee has 5 female and 5 male members.
Kalasaka dressmaker Professor Mudenden given a 3 year bursary to Masuka High School, southern Zambia, to become a qualified community school teacher for Kalalasaka Community School
Since Professor Mudenden graduated from UCZ CHODORT TRAINING COLLEGE 4 years ago, not only does he have a thriving business at Kalalasaka Village, he has also been teaching young people the rudiments of pattern making and machine sewing, and helping Grade 2 pupils at the Community School. His commitment to fulfilling the trust placed in him in his 1 year training in Choma, has led the Preston family charity – Kondanani Zambia Inc – to find an avenue to give Professor the opportunity to further increase his education.
He has been awarded a 3-year bursary to study to Masuka Secondary College, which is close enough to Kalalasaka village for Professor to attend school, to study, and continue his dressmaking business.
Kondanani Zambia Inc has been committed for 20 years to working alongside ZOCS – Zambia Open Community Schools, Lusaka, Zambia, and its CEO Mrs Harriet Sianjibu Miyato. Mrs Miyato states:” I have monitored his performance since his CHODORT training, his commitment to his work is obvious, and he has been ready to do additional work of teaching Grade 2 learners, an indication that he is really determined to become a teacher, in his village of Kalalasaka.”
Cleopatra Chona-Muna, Research & Advocacy Manager at ZOCS says: “not only will he become a more skilful teacher, but the whole Kalalasaka community and learners will benefit; he is a determined person, and we have no doubt he will excel in his studies”.
Vulnerable Zambian women given opportunity to raise healthy village chickens, following guide by AusAID Prof Robyn Alders; project funded through ZOCS by Kondanani Zambia Inc
Kondanani Zambia (KZ) is funding a new project in Zambia, working with Zambia Open Community Schools Agricultural Consultant Simon Chiputa to introduce 5 women-led households to sustainable village chicken raising practices in the Mungule chiefdom. Simon will be assisting in enlarging the women’s understanding of chicken rearing, of health and disease management, of mating and breeding of chickens.
Improving poultry health improves production efficiency which contributes to food security and poverty alleviation, The egg provides a range of nutrients apart from protein that can make a substantial contribution to the nutrition of children and pregnant and nursing women.
Additionally, the women will learn the benefits of a 3-monthly vaccine to prevent the poultry from succumbing to Newcastle Disease. The vaccine, which does not need refrigeration, is the product of research carried out in Zambia by Assoc Prof Robyn Alders of Sydney University, Australia, in conjunction with veterinarians in Lusaka.
KZ hopes that, with effective monitoring, the project will be cost-effective and will be replicated in rural villages. The monitoring will be exploring ways that the vaccine can be administered for a reasonable fee, which in turn will provide a small living allowance for the vaccinator.
You can support the work of poultry health and production by donations to Kondanani Zambia on the Donate page of this website.
Have you ever seen true sustainable social entrepreneurship in action? I mean uncontrolled growth in the most difficult environment with the most minimal resources imaginable?
I have, and I have called it fifty goats.
Why fifty goats?
Eight years ago, I joined a phone call with my parents and the executive director of ZOCs in Zambia and we brainstormed about ways to further affect the rural community schools that Zambia Open Community Schools supports with entrepreneurial concepts that would bring IGAs – income generating activities – to grow self-reliance to support teachers & provide requisites for the community schools to continue to flourish.
The criteria would only require a small amount of seed capital, no organisational structure, no working capital, just the pure entrepreneurial spirit of those who joined the entrepreneurial experiment.
A small spark was the target, no long-winded, difficult to manage project to build, just a spark of an idea and the small amount of seed capital to get it going and perhaps some encouragement along the way.
So we started, 27 goats, 14 female and 13 male. We organised donations from some churches in Australia and away it went.
ZOCS began by simply explaining an idea. Distribute the goats between the most vulnerable families (female-headed households, often the grandmothers) in the most rural village. Each family would get 3 goats: 2 females and one male. As each individual family’s herd grew, they donated the next 2 goats to another vulnerable family and one to the community schools herd.
The thing about goats is, they are tough, they eat anything, they don’t require land rights, they don’t get many diseases and they produce protein-rich milk and meat and the ownership rights of women were covered.
And so it began.
So 7 years later, this spark of an idea, self-sustaining, self-growing at a rate without any external input is one of the most amazing things I have experienced in entrepreneurship: one of the best examples I have ever seen. I use this story in many of my discussions on the subject of innovation and entrepreneurship because when you say those words many people think driverless cars at Google or CERN in Switzerland!
The program has affected over 1,023 families in Zambian communities in the most profound ways. Children that can grow up to be healthy adults, families able to pay for the children’s education which is at the centre of any growth scenario of ANY country on earth.
So why did I call this an entrepreneurial bonfire? Because from the smallest spark of an idea a whole world opened up and grew at a rate that can’t be slowed down: the dream of many a multinational organisation! True innovation at its best operating in the most difficult conditions imaginable to most people.
Join us at Kondanani Zambia and Zambia Open Community Schools as we continue on a journey through innovation and entrepreneurship in Zambia with projects that we hope will grown across Africa and the world.