The Trust Connection was founded by Christine Downton and Charles Ainslie. Over 8 years, Christine and Charles had worked closely together in organising leadership training for partners of a private philanthropic trust founded by Christine, The Learning Trust. The aim of this organisation is to develop the long-term capacity of emerging, inspired NGO organisations and their leaders.


And the results continue to be astounding – virtually every participant on our leadership courses talks of how critical these are in giving them the tools and inner resources to dramatically increase their impact.

The Trust Connection takes on the same values based culture of developing long-term trusted relationships with clients.

The Trust Connection uses a combined team of local and international leadership trainers.

South African Trainers

Charles is the Lead Trainer & Director at The Trust Connection and delivers leadership training and coaching across South Africa to both NPOs and corporates.

Charles is a certified NLP Trainer and Coach, having trained with Gene Early, Sue Knight, John Grinder & Michael Carrol, Robert Dilts and Stephen Gilligan and Tristan Soames.

Charles was previously the Founding Director of a successful private philanthropic foundation, The Learning Trust. Over 8 years he delivered organisational development capacity support training to over 100 emerging organisations, via 5-year training relationships. Prior to this, Charles was a senior adviser in the Mergers & Acquisitions team at Ernst & Young LLP’s London office. Charles qualified as a Chartered Accountant SA with Ernst & Young in their Johannesburg office.

Other South African trainers

The Trust Connection is committed to developing a growing group of local South African trainers. As the demand for our leadership training grows, so we want to offer more and more lead trainer opportunities to South African local coaches, themselves supported by our international trainers.

International trainers – a selection

Sue Knight www.sueknight.com

Sue Knight is an established NLP Master Trainer and has been running programmes internationally for over 30 years and in Africa since 2016. Sue is the author of the global business bestseller ‘NLP at Work’.

Tristan Soames www.tristansoames.com

Tristan is an experienced NLP Master Trainer, running programmes regularly in the UK, Spain and India. Tristan has lead programmes in South Africa since 2013.

Yosara Geerling www.yosara.com

Based in the The Netherlands, Yosara is a highly experienced NLP Master Trainer and runs programmes regularly in Europe and in South Africa since 2018.

Nasreen Khan www.linkedin.com/in/nasreenkhan

Nasreen is a very well-respected multi-purpose trainer in India. She has lead programmes in South Africa since 2016.

Our Board

Christine Downton – Chairperson

Christine is the founding donor and brings considerable skills and experience in academia, central banking, asset management and philanthropy, in an international career over 40 years. Christine has also served on many public and private boards including the Board of Governors of the London School of Economics, The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Drug Policy Alliance and various financial service company and regulatory Boards. Christine is also a certified NLP Trainer and Coach having trained with Gene, Early, Sue Knight and various other international trainers.

Mignon Hardie

Mignon is the Executive Director of FunDza, a position she has held since the Trust’s inception in 2011. She is responsible for the efficient and effective management of the organisation. She is also a director of Cover2Cover Books, in which FunDza has a shareholding. She has a BA (Economics and English) from UCT, and an MBA cum laude (Stellenbosch University). Mignon uses NLP as one of the leadership frameworks in developing a culture of trust in her workplace.

Imtiaaz Hashim

Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant and was appointed as a Partner at the international accounting an auditing firm, BDO in January 2005.

Imtiaaz is a member of the SAICA Practices Committee and Large Practices Committee in the Western Cape, and is involved in audits within various sectors including NGO’s, listed companies, owner-managed businesses and financial services. Imtiaaz is also a board member of the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa (“ABASA”). Imtiaaz completed his NLP Practitioner training many years ago.