Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.
Leon Louw helped found the Free Market Foundation in 1975, and is credited with over 200 pro-market reforms that today positively affect every South African. These range from increased shopping hours to abolished agricultural boards to deregulated transport.
Leon trained initially as an attorney and, apart from possessing a profound grasp of South African jurisprudence, is an outstanding economist of international repute. A sought after speaker at universities, conferences and conventions across the globe, he has over the past 40 years spoken in some 30 countries on nine continents, on occasion sharing the platform with such great economic minds as Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Walter Williams.
Leon is perhaps best known as co-author with his wife Frances Kendall of South Africa – The Solution and Let The People Govern. He has also authored a study entitled Habits of Highly Effective Countries: Lessons for South Africa.
There can be little doubt that The Solution, and the speeches that Leon gave on the book’s main thrust of a peaceful transition to democracy under a Constitution protecting the rights of all citizens, influenced the thinking of the participants in the negotiation process that ended apartheid. It encouraged the parties to enter into the negotiation process, convinced them that a peaceful solution was possible, and provided direction as to the crucial elements on which agreement was necessary.
Leon made numerous submissions to the negotiating parties at the Council for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) and the parties took note. They did not accept all his proposals but included enough of them to substantially influence the final Constitution and the checks and balances that protect South Africa’s citizens today.
For their role in the transition to democracy, Leon and Frances were twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Leon also played a very significant role in ensuring that South Africa has a property rights clause included in its constitution, a vital element to ensuring a country’s freedom and prosperity. Moreover, Leon has ceaselessly worked to help thousands of black property owners around the country to have their land title upgraded by government from leasehold to freehold.
Leon is married to Frances Kendall, author and artist, and has three daughters, Justine, Camilla and Kate.
He loves classical music, especially Beethoven, travel (including to Vanuatu and Roratonga), nature, jogging and hiking.
He is a storehouse of worthless information, being fascinated by anything curious, wierd or bizarre.
He is a contrarian who loves playing devil's advocate.
He has recently ghost written a novel based in India.