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An Interview with Jo Pretyman

Portrait by Zak Kalivas
Interview by Janne Ryan
Jo Pretyman

JO PRETYMAN: Founder, I-Manifest

GAME-CHANGER: I want to shift the thinking around philanthropy, so it is seen as an exchange between equals. I don’t like the word charity, it implies that someone is less advantaged. It’s patronising and not true to what’s really happening. I don’t want kids hearing that word.

ACHIEVING GOALS: Shifting the value points in philanthropy is my goal. Philanthropy is about sharing, about connecting, about community, about evolution. The lines are blurring between philanthropy and angel investing, for example, with models like kick-starter. With this sharing and connecting and building of communities we will gain deep insights into each other that can help us evolve as a human race. It’s a global goal we have to change the way we learn and are educated.

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: The community we have built with I-Manifest. I am most proud of building a brand that doesn’t look like a charity, a brand that looks sexy and people want to be part of, feeling like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. We’re successfully building a mentorship model where our students are solving, through mentorship, real world problems. We recently held a three-day micro-school with leading architecture firm PTW Architects, fashion designer Dion Lee, and Good Design Australia’s CEO Brandon Gien. The brief? To design our #futurecity. Companies are starting to ask us to see if our students can solve real world problems for them.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Trying to define who we are. It’s just evolved so quickly. I-Manifest is not like a shop where you sell something, we’re working with new ideas. We’re in a world where energy is being transacted, shifting all the time, changing who we are.

HOW YOU GOT STARTED: It was a sector I discovered by chance, or perhaps nothing is by chance. I was searching for purpose myself and an opportunity came up to take on a role as communications manager to help rebrand and relaunch a youth education charity. It was here I saw the opportunity to re-make philanthropy and also to bring my experience and contacts from the creative industries [fashion and music], together with my new vision for philanthropy. I wanted to create something aspirational. A beautiful new world.