Meet the climate team

Neliswa Hare

Climate risk expert and social entrepreneur
Neliswa Hare

Climate change is complicated. But that isn’t stopping people around the world from making a difference. At Deloitte, we’re lucky to have brilliantly diverse people leading our climate work. This series is a chance to find out more about them, their areas of expertise and why they’re passionate about our planet.

Today we are talking to Neliswa Hare, Climate Risk and Resilience Lead. Here, Neliswa shares how the inequality she witnessed as a child growing up in South Africa provided the inspiration for her work today

Joburg home

Neliswa grew up in Alexandra Township in Johannesburg, South Africa, where examples of inequality confronted her every day.

As a 10-year-old, Neliswa noticed the contrast between the two communities and asked “What’s the difference between here and there?” The answer she came up with was “There’s not enough trees here”. We take trees for granted in the UK, but in Alexandra it was plain to see that they were few and far between. Anyone who did have a tree often cut them down to create space.

After seeing this, Neliswa felt compelled to do something. “I couldn’t really articulate it at that age, but I knew there was something wrong with that picture.”

This famous picture shows Alexandra Township on the left and right next to it is Sandton, the richest square mile in South Africa.

Grandad gqwetha

Inspiration as to how Neliswa could make a difference came in the form of her maternal grandfather. He was Chief of Ramra, a small community who gave him the title “gqwetha”, which means lawyer. “He did a lot of work for the community and has a school named after him in the area. He is where my drive to do something to make a difference for the community originates from.”

“The problems we experienced gave us the opportunity to think about the solutions we can bring.”

Start of SpringAge

After starting her career in a bank at 18, Neliswa went on to have learning and development roles at insurance and consulting firms. However, Neliswa felt that she could have more of an impact working within smaller organisations.

After growing her experience within various start-ups and completing business and coaching courses, she co-founded SpringAge in 2011. The company brought together South Africa’s best and brightest young people to devise solutions for large corporates facing social and environmental problems. It gave young people a voice and enabled their ideas and concerns to be heard by big businesses.

In the five years after it was co-founded, SpringAge gave Neliswa some fantastic opportunities. She represented South Africa at the One Young World Conference, became a South African Changemaker and was named as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper in 2013. In 2015, Neliswa was selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow, the flagship program of President Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative.

Uncommon connections

In 2016, SpringAge was acquired by Deloitte Africa. Neliswa and her partner ran the company within Deloitte, where they focused on helping organisations collaborate with millennials. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to create the first ever Millennial Advisory Board for Deloitte Africa and other corporates as a way of engaging with young people.

Neliswa explains, “SpringAge is about connecting the unconnected and assembling a committee of different voices to find solutions. For example, we’ve engaged local communities who are affected by mining and included them in conversations with mining companies. This has helped corporates to overcome their challenges while ensuring that the value of these communities is protected.”

During her last year at Deloitte Africa Neliswa was asked to be the World Impact Lead, helping to develop Deloitte Africa’s WorldClass and WorldClimate strategies. This gave Neliswa the chance to focus more on the environmental and climate change issues facing our world today and what role the private sector could play in tackling them.

Small actions made easy

Neliswa moved to the UK in 2021. Arriving in the middle of the pandemic during a particularly cold Februay, she felt worlds away from South Africa. Now settled in Farnham, she enjoys long walks and, through the ‘Making Britain Green’ initiative, she has planted trees in her local community.

Living in the UK, she loves how, when compared to South Africa, simple things like recycling are made so easy. “You can make a simple choice to do one thing differently and you feel like you’re making an impact. That’s very important. For example, we have just decided to buy an electric vehicle.”

Moving to the UK when she did meant that Neliswa joined our ESG Advisory just before COP26. “I feel so lucky that I now have this awesome opportunity to work with the UN Climate Champions on their “Race to Resilience” campaign. I’m double-hatting – campaign manager and business engagement lead.”

Neliswa planting trees in her local community

“My 3.5 year old daughter told her friends ‘My mummy’s job is to help save the planet.’”


Neliswa encapsulated her thoughts on tackling climate change in one word- “ubuntu”. It’s a term which means “I am, because you are” and it is one that many people live by in South Africa.

“I would love to see a world in which people are more empathetic towards each other. It’s about showing humanity to others. Putting yourself in the shoes of someone else will drive the type of decisions that you make, whether it’s the kind of businesses you’re building or about the actions you take to tackle climate change.”

At COP26 Neliswa was happy to see that young leaders like Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakata were given a platform to speak. “Vanessa’s speech at COP26 titled ‘Prove Us Wrong’ was inspiring. I take motivation and encouragement from seeing young people who are bold enough to say it’s our future and our planet - there is no planet B.”

Meet the others

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Neliswa and what makes her tick. Our climate team are here to help, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to find out more. And if you want to meet the others, just keep reading below. We’ll introduce you to new people every month.

Mary Goldman

Mary Goldman

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Emily Cromwell

Consumer leader and allotment fan
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Cathy Li

Cathy Li

Sustainable finance consultant and youth champion
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