Since leaving high school in 1976 Gino has served mass-based movements in South Africa in a variety of different roles from organising, bargaining, education and in senior leadership positions. At the international level he served as industry officer for mine and energy workers in a global union. He also spent some time as strategy advisor in an international human rights organisation. In 2013, he decided to step out of mundane bureaucracy and live a simple life of “active” retirement as an ordinary citizen.
As a founding member of Earthrise, he now spends his time working with his fellow trustees, the Naledi Village Committee and partners at Rustlers Valley Farm co-creating a new vision and long term future for the farm. This provides an ideal setting and context to build and test new forms of community based organisations pursuing a just, sustainable and peaceful world.
Jay is the outgoing Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), headquartered in Geneva. The organisation was launched at the 2002 UN Summit on Children as a public-private partnership to tackle malnutrition facing 2 billion people in the world.
He is the founder of the social development arm of an investment and management company, J&J Group, which he co-founded in 2000 in South Africa.
Jay Naidoo has recently joined the Board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, established to promote African development through a focus on promoting good governance. He serves in an advisory capacity for a number of international organizations, including the Broadband Commission of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Lead Committee of the UNSG on Nutrition. He is the Patron of ‘Scatterlings of Africa,’ a paleontological foundation linking archaeological sites across Africa.
Naidoo was General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions from 1985 to 1993. He then served as Minister responsible for the Reconstruction and Development Programme in President Mandela’s office (1994–1996) and as Minister of Post, Telecommunications, and Broadcasting (1996–1999). Naidoo was a member of the NEC of the African National Congress. He was at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid leading the largest trade union federation in South Africa.
From 2001 to 2010, he was Chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the premier development finance institution driving infrastructure in the SADC region. From 2003 to 2010 he served as deputy chair and trustee of ‘Lovelife’, a nongovernmental organisation leading the fight to prevent HIV/AID through education and mobilization.
For his accomplishments he has gained many honors, including becoming the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour), one of France’s highest decorations, and received the ‘Drivers for Change Award’ from the Southern African Trust and Mail & Guardian newspaper in October 2010.
His most recent awards include the Kuzwayo Award from the University of Johannesburg, in November 2012, as well as an Honorary Doctorate Technology Degree in Engineering and the Built Environment from the Durban University of Technology, awarded September 2013.
After fighting against apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s through the Helping Hands Youth Organisation, Naidoo led global campaigns to end poverty and protect human rights. He has served as the secretary-general of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. He was Secretary General of Civicus, an international alliance for citizen participation, from 1998 to 2008.
Recently, he has led the Global Call for Climate Action, which brings together environmental, aid, religious and human rights groups, labour unions, scientists and others and has organised mass demonstrations around climate negotiations.