SA INC

SA INC

SA INC is about changing conversations – from the dinner table to the shebeen, from dusty street corners to gym cafeterias. It’s about shaking off the doom and gloom of mainstream media and sharing the positive real news that doesn’t reach the headlines. SA INC tells stories about South Africa’s most progressive, innovative and switched-on organisations, that are placing people at the centre of their vision and have committed to the ethos of profit-with-purpose and the pursuit of inclusive, sustainable business growth. Be inspired as we share these stories throughout 2021 and into 2022, celebrating all that is good in South Africa.

Season 1

Absa

ABSA plays a shaping role in South African society.

Duduzile Radebe could not believe her eyes when she received the letter saying she was accepted to study medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand. After reading it again and again it finally sunk in – in a few years, she would become a doctor. The first in her family to go to university, they could relax with the knowledge that she would do well in life. The only other hurdle left in her path was the tremendously high university fees, especially for a long degree like medicine. However, being the beneficiary of a scholarship from ABSA, Dudu is now grateful that someone finally saw her potential and says they want to see her become the woman that she sees herself become one day.

The African continent has a population of which almost 65% are under the age of 35. As an African bank, ABSA is committed to uplifting this generation – Africa’s future inventors and innovators – and has, to date, supported over 6,500 young people through their scholarship programme. An innovative addition to ABSA’s scholarships is the ReadytoWork programme which facilitates the critical transition between completing education and entering the workforce. Through this programme, candidates are taught how to handle themselves professionally within the workplace environment, along with learning important financial skills.

Financial management is a key focus area for ABSA, along with financial literacy training. To that end, ABSA has curated a partnership with City Press and MoneyMakeover, in which they support South Africans in understanding and shifting debt, along with how to use and grow their money. Howard Hindoga, the winner of the 2017 MoneyMakeover challenge, has gone from security officer with no tertiary education and bleak hopes for his financial future, to successful property entrepreneur, ensured of a comfortable retirement. Having had to rely on expensive personal loans to expand his rental property portfolio almost cost him his business, but with the input of Small Business Development expert, Elton Govender, Howard is now a financially literate entrepreneur who can invest back into his community.

SMEs play a crucial role in the growth of South African economies, be it from rural to peri-urban and beyond. ABSA’s Enterprise Development programme has assisted entrepreneur, Anda Peter, with the tricky transition from the corporate environment to running a successful business. Apart from learning business management skills, Anda feels that she is part of a supportive network that alleviates the loneliness of running one’s own business. From successful youth development programmes to financial literacy and enterprise development programmes, ABSA believes in playing a shaping role in society and is passionate about contributing to an economically stable and prosperous South Africa and the continent it calls home.

SA INC - Season 1 - Absa (12 minutes)

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ACWA Power

ACWA Power uplifts rural communities by partnering with them.

Jerome van Staaden, and the other residents of the small town of Groblershoop in the Northern Cape, only ever saw the sweltering sun as part of nature – and the harsh reality they had to face every day. They never imagined that it could be used to generate power, let alone provide employment. The Northern Cape is one of the poorest provinces in South Africa, and the little work that is available is mostly as seasonal farm labourers. Even though it was always his dream to uplift his community, Jerome was forced to leave his home and family to seek employment elsewhere. But, all of that changed when ACWA Power constructed the Bokpoort Solar Power Plant in Groblershoop.

Today, after undergoing apprenticeship training, Jerome is a proud Health and Safety Officer at Bokpoort, and extremely happy to be back in his community. The vast open spaces and extreme temperatures of the Northern Cape make it an ideal location for a solar power plant. Sadly, the same vast open spaces and extreme temperatures are proportionately related to how disadvantaged and impoverished the people are who live there. ACWA Power, however, has an ethos of partnering with the communities in which they work, instead of subscribing to them. Through skills development and job creation, they are growing a very active economy in the area. In fact, due to the establishment of a second solar power plant at Danielskuil, also in the Northern Cape, ACWA power is ensuring the upliftment of the province as a whole.

Lida Adams can still remember the exact date and time when she received the call from ACWA Power. She had applied to become the cleaning contractor at Bokpoort Solar Farm and is extremely proud to be able to employ four women from the community at a place where she was always a cleaner herself. She says it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to help others, especially women. With over 60% of plant employees hailing from the area, kids can finally stop thinking of themselves as becoming farmworkers, and instead nurture dreams of being anything from engineers to business owners.

From an environmental perspective, the most unique aspect of these plants is that they produce clean energy. They do not pollute the environment as there are almost zero emissions. In stark contrast with the clouds of coal smoke darkening the skies of Mpumalanga, the endless, dry landscape of the Northern Cape is only broken by row upon row of shimmering mirrors. However, even in Mpumalanga, ACWA Power is employing unique methods to improve the environment. Through the burning of discarded coal – a serious environmental hazard – ACWA Power is reducing the pollution of the coal leeching into the ground or causing coal dust in the air. Here also, massive job creation is in the pipeline, and it is anticipated that there will be a local spend of R4.5 billion in the area, of which R3 billion will be put towards preferential procurement. By living by its mission of economically supporting the development of countries, ACWA Power is enabling people to realise their dreams and accomplish more than they could ever imagine themselves doing.

SA INC - Season 1 - ACWA Power (12 minutes)

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Coronation

Coronation Fund Managers demonstrate good corporate citizenry by championing substantive transformation through the upliftment of communities.

The motto of Sonwabo Primary School in Gugulethu reads, “We fly to reach the sky”, and true to form, the learners can be found hard at work watering the organic vegetables they are growing in their school garden. Once their produce is harvested, they serve it at the school canteen, and any excess is sold. It’s incredible seeing these young learners grasping the finances around the produce that they have helped create, and linking what they’re learning in the classroom to what happens in the real world. This innovative way of learning forms part of the many Corporate Social Investment initiatives of the asset management company, Coronation Fund Managers.

Run in conjunction with the South African Institute for Entrepreneurs, this particular initiative, the Coronation Schools Garden Programme, falls under the banner of the Coronation Capsule Programme. Through the Capsule Programme, Coronation recognises that education does not only pertain to literacy and numeracy, but that society, parents, the principal, and the school should also be incorporated. The sole focus then is to fulfil a child’s educational needs, followed by, more importantly, providing these learners with opportunities down the line. Complimenting the Schools Garden Programme is the Principal’s Academy, which is another initiative incorporated within the Capsule Programme. Here principals are mentored by former principals, and it is exciting to see how they embrace the knowledge gained from these sessions.

“What Coronation is trying to do, is to not only manage people’s money but also contribute to society in a meaningful way”, says CEO, Anton Pillay. Along with looking after people’s savings, Coronation is actively working towards being a good corporate citizen. They’re also going about it in an inventive manner. In addition to their inspiring Capsule Programme, they support the Young Investor Programme at the University of the Western Cape. The programme aims to bridge the gap for students between the theory learnt at school, and understanding how an actual working environment operates. Anton asserts that these students are the future of South Africa, and by empowering them, they can, in turn, add value to society.

Being a people’s company, Coronation has also implemented the Coronation Lean In Programme at their headquarters. It is a platform that provides support and inspiration to its employees, encouraging them to find, and use, their voice and in doing so, help other employees. Personal Investment Analyst, Mmabatlokoa Molefe, says that the programme has resulted in her feeling valued and heard, along with inspiring her to give more to the company as they take such good care of her.

Through its various initiatives, Coronation is successfully achieving what it has set out to do: through embracing its role as a good corporate citizen of South Africa, through the upliftment of learners and graduates, and empowering its employees, they are not only authentically reflecting the demographic of the country but also ensuring that substantive transformation is taking place.

SA INC - Season 1 - Coronation (12 minutes)

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DBSA

The Development Bank of Southern Africa is stimulating rural economies by providing finance that enables infrastructure development.

For a driven Grade 12 learner like Yonela Mzozo, it was difficult to move from the urban excitement of Mthatha to the quiet of rural Ntsikeni on the outskirts of KwaZulu-Natal. Even though she was happy to now be living with her mother, the lack of electricity, and its concomitant problems, felt suffocating. She had no access to a cell phone, internet, or television, and had to attempt her studies either by candlelight or by generator-powered lights, that is until the petrol ran out. “The struggle was real”, she says.

Her frustrations were shared by teacher Zolani Tswane. Lamenting the need for pages and pages of hand-written lesson plans, and the time wasted by writing on a blackboard, he felt that he couldn’t help his students realise their full potential.

The lack of electricity also severely affected the few small businesses in Ntsikeni, Owen Jili’s tyre business being among them. In the days before electricity, it usually took him more than an hour to manually pump tractor tyres with a hand pump, something he experienced as highly unproductive.

To make matters worse, Umzimkhulu Municipality lacked the funds to supply Ntsikeni with electricity, regardless of the community’s protests about the absence of service delivery. The town’s 1250 houses are spread out over a vast geographical area consisting of rough terrain, and even within the municipality’s medium-term expenditure framework allocation, it would have taken them three years to supply everyone with electricity.

The municipality decided to approach the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for assistance. The DBSA is a development finance institution, or DFI, and is owned by the Government of South Africa. It has the very specific mandate of funding infrastructure development in South Africa, as well as in the SADC Region, and beyond. By providing bridging finance, along with implementation support, assistance with technical skills and contract management, they ensure that under-resourced municipalities can accomplish sustainable infrastructure development goals, thereby stimulating the rural economy.

The day the electricity was switched on in Ntsikeni everyone celebrated. Owen is now able to serve his customers within a few minutes and has plans for expanding his tyre business. Yonela says her school work has improved. Although they don’t have libraries close by, she can conduct research on her cell phone via the internet. She is also able to watch television and connect with her friends from Mthatha via social media.

Teacher Zolani is so inspired by how electricity has simplified and improved his teaching resources, that he gives extra classes on weekends and after school. Where the school in the past had a 100% pass rate, it now has students who get distinctions. Electricity, with the help of the DBSA, is powering Ntsikeni and other rural communities into a future that allows them to realise their full potential.

SA INC - Season 1 - DBSA (12 minutes)

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Dimension Data

Dimension Data empowers South Africans through education, graduate accelerator programmes and enterprise development.

In Grade 11, Thabiso Motha scored only 30% on an Algebra test at the Saturday School of IT service company, Dimension Data. He realised he needed help. A mere year later he graduated from Buhlebuzile Secondary School with an incredible seven distinctions to his name. An abundance of tertiary education choices opened up to him and he decided on studying for a BSc in Mining Engineering at Wits University, made possible through a bursary from Dimension Data. He says he was given an ”exceptional opportunity”, and is paying this gift forward by volunteering as a mentor at his alma mater.

The Saturday School is the pride and joy of Dimension Data’s CEO for the Middle East and Africa, Grant Bodley. It was started 25 years ago and thousands of students have enjoyed a 100% pass rate after being tutored in, amongst others, Maths, Science, Coding and Computer Science. Dimension Data is passionate about connecting individuals, communities, small businesses, large enterprises, and government through technology. However, they need people to make the technology work and, to that end, are making huge investments in learnerships, graduate programmes and internships, bringing together talented, driven individuals from all over the country.

Thabiso is currently teaching Computer Science at the Saturday School but is also participating in Dimension Data’s Graduate Accelerator Programme. Dimension Data Executive Director of Corporate Services, Zellah Fuphe, says the participants are a group of brilliant and inspirational young university graduates. The programme is hands-on and participants are rotated throughout the entire business, gaining experience in everything from HR and finance, to marketing and sales.

Dimension Data’s contribution to the stimulation of the economy is its Enterprise Development Programme. Nkululeko Silimela’s company, NKUSI-IT, has gone from strength to strength through its symbiotic relationship with Dimension Data. He says some of the biggest challenges as a start-up are premises and infrastructure. Through their partnership with Dimension Data, they now have offices at the Dimension Data campus in upmarket Bryanston, where expert advice is but a coffee away. In return, he offers Dimension Data access to the types of customers only he can reach as an SMME. For Dimension Data it’s extremely rewarding to see these small businesses grow after having nurtured and partnered with them in the market. Grant says, “For us, people are our identity. They resonate with the pride we have in being a South African company. We’re really trying to make a difference to both society, as well as our clients”.

SA INC - Season 1 - Dimension Data (12 minutes)

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Engen

Engen is passionate about creating a better South Africa through a holistic approach to empowerment which improves lives from the grassroots level and up.

“I just love the sound the truck makes,  and the size, I wanted nothing else, I just wanted to drive a truck”, says Phindile Sithole, her slight frame dwarfed by the tremendous 18-wheeler she pilots. Phindile is employed by Engen as a Bulk Truck Operator or BTO, the professional driver who ensures that Engen’s petroleum products are safely delivered to their customers nationwide. Due to the physical strength required, and the long driving distances involved, this used to be a male-dominated field, but Phindile is one of 16 young women who are driving these stereotypes into the ground, as it were. Rigorously trained by Engen, these ambitious women are hard-working, eager and motivated, and are carving out successful futures for themselves with dedicated focus.

Along with believing that education is a key enabler in creating a skilled and successful society, Engen is a fervent advocate for economic transformation. From providing world-class maths and science teachers to schools in rural communities to investing in, and nurturing SMMEs, Engen is passionate about creating a better South Africa. They pursue a holistic approach to empowerment which allows them to touch the lives of people and organisations all along their supply, value chains, and even beyond. Furthermore, they are quite deliberate in stating that they want specifically women to enter the petroleum industry. Women, for instance, like the driven and enthusiastic Gugu Ncongo and Nosiphi Waligwa, the proud owners of an Engen service station.

Testament to the value of never giving up, these resourceful young women only received approval from Engen after their third application, their youth and inexperience at first counting against them. Today the service station is valued as Engen’s “pride and joy”. Retail forms the core of Engen’s business, and by partnering with the DTI and the National Empowerment Fund, they have facilitated the growth of a flourishing black female-owned business that is respected by both its employees and its customers. Furthermore, by contributing retail-specific training along with financial assistance, Engen has enabled and empowered Gugu and Nosiphi to not only be successful business owners but also to realise their big dreams of owning a service station.

However, this is not the only dream that Engen has helped come true. Through their Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme, a key element of BEE, where game-changing opportunities are powering small business growth, Engen is assisting SMMEs to succeed beyond their first three years. From providing training and finance to creating sustainable business models for these emerging companies, Engen is not only ensuring the success of these businesses but is also transforming their supply chain. Furthermore, their partnership with Pitch & Polish, a fun, interactive workshop that connects brilliant ideas with investor funding, is visionary. Through the shaping of these burgeoning entrepreneurs, even if they don’t form part of Engen’s value chain, they are demonstrating a true model of transformation which productively contributes to the South African economy.

In keeping with its dedication to economic transformation, Engen has put various organisational strategies in place to ensure that they generate leaders that are, firstly, diverse and, secondly, able to support and drive transformation. Engen is prioritising the integration of small, emerging, black-owned businesses, along with the empowerment and education of young people, as they believe that that’s where the future success of South Africa lies. And indeed, the success of Engen’s holistic transformation strategy is undeniable. As an organisation, it boasts a transformed value and supply chain that supports new players from small businesses, especially black and female-owned businesses that now form part of their diverse workplace, thereby truly moving South Africa into the future it deserves.

SA INC - Season 1 - Engen (24 minutes)

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Exxaro

Exxaro addresses critical challenges facing SA and implements sustainable solutions which are transforming the communities in which they operate.

With the earth’s population set to increase by more than 2 billion people in the next 30 years, the planet will be bursting at her seams, and without intervention, her resources stretched to capacity. Issues around energy, water, and food security are already emerging across the globe. In answer to this, South African coal and heavy minerals mining company, Exxaro, has aligned its vision and strategy to address exactly these issues. To create a viable future, they are implementing sustainable solutions which are transforming the communities in which they operate.

The Belfast Implementation Project is a greenfield coal mining project where there is not only mining of coal but also mining of data and information. In contrast to a traditional mining environment, with its concomitant restraints around turnaround time and longer decision-making processes, this project is enabling Exxaro’s whole mining chain to be interconnected. It’s the first mine in the country, if not in the coal mining industry, where a digital twin mine is utilised in the development of the entire mine and its scope. Through this, the mine is empowered to predict any potential challenges and opportunities. It is affording them the freedom to graduate from a reactive position to a predictive, and even a prescriptive, one.

In keeping with its goals of creating a sustainable future, Exxaro places great emphasis on the safety of its employees. Each individual is seen as important and they speak of their Safety Culture as an actual living entity, and not just something that resides on paper. Furthermore, the mine would not be successful if it did not have the support of the communities in which it operates. When two farming communities had to be moved to make way for mining operations, Exxaro launched, in keeping with international best practice standards, the Resettlement Action Plan Project. Along with water, sanitation, and electricity, the new communities now own their properties under their Community Property Association, and the quality of their lives has increased accordingly.

In addition to their passion for people, Exxaro’s commitment to the environment is tantamount. The mine is situated in the highly sensitive Komati River catchment area in Mpumalanga and is surrounded by several wetlands. To minimise the environmental impact on the area, Exxaro has had to re-consider its original design, which has resulted in a staggering 98% reduction in its footprint. Exxaro CEO, Msxolisi Mgojo, states that Exxaro’s main focus is on how they can address the critical challenges that are facing society in South Africa today. It’s about a purpose that is bigger than they as a company. It’s a purpose that’s generational and, in addition to being good corporate citizens, they wish to become the solution.

SA INC - Season 1 - Exxaro (12 minutes)

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Gradidge-Mahura Investments

Gradidge-Mahura Investments changes the SA wealth management landscape by encouraging financial literacy amongst a new generation of investors.

Both Craig Gradidge and Kagisho Mahura were born with the spirit of entrepreneurship flowing through their veins, and both, at a young age, took to business like ducks to water. As a child, Craig was always looking for opportunities to make money, be it working as a paper delivery boy, or an usher in the “bioscope”. Young Kagisho followed suit and was frequently found “hustling” his wares in the stands at football matches. Fast forward a few decades, and Craig and Kagisho head up the hugely successful wealth management company, Gradidge-Mahura Investments.

At the end of 2007, during the season of public BEE deals, Craig and Kagisho both read a statistic that stated that the average financial advisor in South Africa was 52 years old, white, male and Afrikaans. The market, on the other hand, was young, black and professional. They jumped at the chance to start changing the conversation. Their dream was to tell South Africans about investment deals and educate them on wealth creation in general, but with one big difference:  they would not go the traditional route of selling expensive products which paid them quickly, yet were not good for their clients. They specifically structured their business so that their clients were at its centre.

Gradidge-Mahura is also actively working towards changing the narrative around the notion that mattress banking is the best banking, and is passionate about improving financial literacy in the country. South Africans are notorious for not saving, with eighty per cent of income going to service and debt. Only six to ten per cent of South Africans retire comfortably, which is a statistic Gradidge-Mahura Investments is intently trying to improve. By employing a collection of young people in the business, they are hoping to inspire a younger generation of South African investors.

As an upstart, Masedi Molowisa, director of Mr Concierge, had to face many uncertainties and risks. Through partnering with Gradidge-Mahura Investments, however, he no longer needs to fret about the future, as they are ensuring that he mitigates all the risks he is taking. Tebogo Kukuma, the co-founder of Moteka Projects, concurs and appreciates the personal relationship they have built with the wealth management company since starting their employee provident fund in 2008.

In the approximately ten years they have been in business, Gradidge-Mahura Investments have increased the amount of client money they manage from a mere R10 million to a staggering R900 million. Their clients range from cleaners to CEOs, and Craig proudly regales the story of how he purchased shares with a security guard, and when they shot up in value, the man earned more in one month than he would have in his entire life.

This is what lies at the core of Gradidge-Mahura Investments: a client base of which they are immensely proud, and the fact that they have built a South African business whose assets come from across the population, age, and gender spectrum. Kagisho states that South Africans generally don’t care how black or white a business is. All they want at the end of the day is expertise, advice and good service. And this is exactly what they find at Gradidge-Mahura Investments.

MultiChoice

MultiChoice grows local content, talent and industry through innovatively enriching the lives of both their customers and their employees.

South Africans of a ‘certain’ age fondly reminisce about the advent of television in the country. Watching Knight Rider, MacGyver and The A-Team on grainy television sets plugged into car batteries left an indelible impression on many. The only problem with these shows, however, was that they were outright American imports and although they might have brought entertaining escapism, they certainly were not representative of the lives of the kids watching these shows.

Fast forward about four decades and these same kids head up hugely successful production and entertainment companies. Calvo Mavela, the CEO of MultiChoice, is one of them, and now finds great pride in the fact that MultiChoice has been immensely influential in the evolution of the local television industry. Truly implementing their ethos of “enriching lives”, MultiChoice is in the vanguard of developing local content and, in the same breath, local talent. Through the launch of Mzansi Magic, their most popular channel, they are providing local producers with a platform from which to tell authentic South African stories and, in the words of producer Phatu Makwavela, another one of those kids, are doing something “magical” through their advancement of local content.

Not only has the industry become more competitive, and job creation increased, but the growth of fresh, local talent is encouraging a new generation of artists to hone their production skills and launch profitable companies. Aluta Qupa, like so many young, resourceful, African women, is one of them. Embarking upon her career through the MultiChoice Magic in Motion Academy, a comprehensive internship programme that traverses the expanse between film school and actual industry experience, Aluta is now a successful young filmmaker. She is excited to be part of the new spate of television producers and her wish is to inspire the next generation of South African kids with the content she creates.

From its unassuming inception in a caravan in Randburg during the 90s, MultiChoice has grown into a media giant that employs over eight thousand people, 87% of which are black, and over 50% of which are female. But, its transformative influence stretches further than its organisational boundaries. With a passion for developing local enterprises, MultiChoice has ensured that all its decoders are produced in South Africa and has created opportunities all along the value chain, from design and engineering to manufacturing and installation. From their magical transformation of the local industry through Mzansi Magic and the Magic in Motion Academy, all informed by their passion for innovation, competitiveness and excellence, it seems that whatever MultiChoice touches, truly bring out the magic.

Old Mutual Alternative Investments

Through its vision for the African continent, Old Mutual Alternative Investments is enabling businesses to thrive and communities to prosper.

19-year-old Hlengiwe Masikane proudly displays the profusion of awards she’s amassed in return for excellent academic achievement throughout her time at school. She is a former student of the BASA School, a black-owned-and-run private school funded by Old Mutual Alternative Investments. In addition to its excellent facilities, which include two IT labs and two science labs, what sets this school apart is the dedication of its teachers. They form a family of 360 committed individuals who truly demonstrate that teaching is a calling more than it is a profession, and who propel their pupils into succeeding in the world beyond their classrooms. This is entirely in keeping with Old Mutual Alternative Investments’ vision of helping to secure a better future for all South Africans.

Their commitment to sustainable development across the African continent is evident in the investments Old Mutual Alternative Investments are making, not only in quality education but also in infrastructure. They have a keen interest in renewable energy and believe that the effect it has on the growth of the continent has a significantly positive impact. An AIIM investment in Renewable Energy Investments South Africa (REISA) has culminated in a myriad of upliftment projects which are making a considerable difference in the lives of many South Africans. REISA’s Early Childhood Development flagship programme has seen the training and upskilling of 58 practitioners. These dedicated individuals have, through this formal qualification, been instilled with an immense sense of pride and accomplishment and have been afforded the necessary and crucial skills to ensure that all the critical developmental stages of childhood are supported.

In the Northern Cape, REISA has invested in the Dibeng Street Lights Project. Due to their dark streets at night, the residents of Dibeng had many crime issues. However, since the implementation of the street lights, the crime rate has dropped. Residents feel safer being outside at night and a sense of community is returning to the area. REISA is committed to sustainable development and instead of just hand-outs, they facilitate empowering people to empower themselves. With a passion for the improvement of business, REISA’s enterprise development programme focuses on allowing SMMEs to be more professional and independent. Happy Olyn of My Idea Gardening Services is testimony to this. Through funding and training, Happy has grown his fleet to over 40 vehicles and proudly employs 72 people. He is delighted that, through the success of his business, he has been able to help so many families.

In addition to the investments made in education and renewable energy, another of Old Mutual Alternative Investment’s objectives is to grow home-ownership amongst previously disadvantaged individuals. However, it is not merely the creation of quality, affordable housing which they facilitate but also the establishment of integrated communities. Through their partnership with property development management company, Similan, they can change the mindset of what low-cost housing products should look like and are replacing the old model with communities of people who are satisfied and proud to live there.

Responsible investment lies at the heart of what Old Mutual Alternative Investments does. They take their role in helping to secure a better future for all South Africans extremely seriously and believe that through the collaboration between government and the private sector in the provision of education, housing and renewable energy solutions, it is possible to sustain the much-needed growth on the African continent.

Pearson

Pearson’s world-class educational solutions and assessments equip South African learners and students with the tools to succeed.

Rodgers Chihwai radiates joy as he conducts the choir at the Harmony Christian School in Rustenburg. He is the Deputy Principal, as well as a Maths and Science teacher, and is truly passionate about education. He ardently asserts that a good education can change a child’s destiny forever. Rodgers believes that, as an educator who wants to make a difference, he constantly needs to ask himself, “How best can I do it?”.

Sadly, largely due to the legacy of the past, education in South Africa faces serious challenges. Today, South African children’s performance is amongst the lowest in the world in Mathematics and Literacy. Challenges such as slow or no internet connectivity at schools, along with the lack of funds to construct science laboratories, are leaving certain schools disadvantaged in comparison to well-funded schools. However, creative technological solutions have the power to bridge this gap.

Just as passionate about education as Rodgers, is the world’s leading learning company, Pearson. They combine world-class educational content and assessment, powered by services and technology, to enable more effective teaching and personalised learning at scale. Pearson believes that wherever learning flourishes, so do people. The launch of MyPedia into select South African schools has served as an inventive answer to many of the challenges learners face. Science labs can be simulated digitally and Maths curriculums presented in accessible lessons which teachers can project onto screens in their classrooms. As all the programmes run off flash disks, schools with no internet connection still have access to the content.

To combat the challenges of illiteracy, Pearson launched their successful reading programme, Vuma, which provides culturally appropriate and recognisable stories and characters to inspire a love of reading from an early age. By not mastering literacy at a young age, an enormous burden is placed on the rest of a child’s education. Through Vuma, however, South African learners and teachers are provided with the tools required to improve reading with understanding in the foundation phase.

As part of the company’s organic growth in the direct delivery of learning, Pearson South Africa has acquired the Pearson Institute of Higher Education. This group has 12 campuses, over 7 000 students and 35 different nationalities represented across our campuses in South Africa. Pearson Institute aims to transform lives through learning and to produce employable graduates who are prepared for all aspects of the modern workplace. To this end, students benefit from a diversity of academic ideas and a range of career-focused qualifications and programmes.

Pearson Institute graduate, Bonginkosi Mchunu, says his mother yearned for just one of her children to not become a taxi driver. Bonginkosi completed his studies and is currently employed by Pearson. Apart from making his mother’s dreams come true, he also says that his colleagues at Pearson have achieved such great things that they are inspiring him to imagine more for his own life.

Their love for South Africa and their commitment to making a meaningful difference in the country are evident through the world-class educational solutions and assessments which Pearson offers. Education is often the only route, particularly for children from underprivileged backgrounds, to a better life. And providing them with a decent education not only reduces the gap between the haves and the have-nots but also gives them a chance at a brighter future they deserve.

SAB

Through the nurturing of emerging farmers and the development of young entrepreneurs and black-owned businesses, SAB enables communities to prosper.

The merger of SAB and AB InBev in 2016 resulted not only in the birth of the world’s biggest brewing company but also in the commitment to invest a staggering R1 billion in the improvement of South Africa and its people over the next five years. These Public Interest Commitments, or PICs, focus on agricultural development, enterprise development, and societal upliftment, and are already truly transforming the lives of individuals and communities across South Africa.

South Africa has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world but through the innovative development of entrepreneurs, SAB is dedicated to helping change the face of South Africa’s economic demographic and is committing to the creation of thousands of jobs. 28-year-old Fezile Msomi is a driven and gutsy hydroponic rooftop farmer in those urbanest of urban spaces, Joburg’s city centre. But, like other young entrepreneurs before her, she faced a lack of funding and high business start-up costs. Her success was secured, however, through the support of SAB Kickstart, Wouldn’t It Be Cool and the Urban Agriculture Initiative. Today, Fezile is motivated to not just be the best that she can be, but also has dreams of empowering future agriculturalists in the same manner that she has been empowered.

As a company that has a large agricultural footprint, it’s extremely important to SAB that their farmers are adequately trained and financed. Mapula Seboko is a barley farmer in Taung, North West province. She works incredibly hard and with the assistance of SAB and implementation partner, FarmSol, has been enabled to produce a successful barley harvest year after year. A principal objective of FarmSol is to train farmers to the point where they can thrive independently as commercial farmers. Farming is not for the faint-hearted, yet Mapula’s incredible work ethic pulls her through as it means her harvest will be good and she will continue to be able to provide for herself and her children.

In addition, SAB is deeply committed to South Africa’s transformation agenda. This entails the development of black-owned and black women-owned businesses through their dedicated in-house business incubator, the SAB Accelerator programme. After being put through her paces by the SAB Accelerator programme, Funeka Khumalo is now able to move her company, Kevali Chemicals, to the next level. Funeka’s passion for her country is palpable and she is energised by the fact that she can, through her business, have a positive impact on employment levels and the economy. Through the PICs, SAB can realise its strategy of enabling the communities in which they operate to prosper and are proud in declaring that they are on this journey for the long run.

Sanlam

Sanlam ensures a brighter future for South Africans by facilitating freedom through financial empowerment.

Nonhlanhla Mkize bought her general dealer business in 1987 and beams with pride when she speaks about it. “Business is something you do with your hands, physically. I love it. I love it so much”, she says. The success of her business is a good mix of hard work and passion, along with clever financial management. Nonhlanhla is an Ubuntu-Botho shareholder and has been using her dividends to increase her stock levels which, in turn, have increased her profits allowing her business a steady growth.

Ubuntu-Botho is the empowerment partner of 100-year-old insurance business, Sanlam. In 2003, the current Deputy Chairman of Sanlam and founder of Ubuntu-Botho, Patrice Motsepe, led a consortium that bought 8% of Sanlam for R1.3 billion. Ubuntu-Botho was established to bring together previously excluded individuals as shareholders in the company and for them to benefit from the growth of Sanlam over the years to come. As a result, the improvement in people’s lives has been hugely significant. Today, many of these shareholders live in houses paid for by their shares, their children are educated and they have started businesses.

Lynette Mahlangu, another Ubuntu-Botho shareholder, sold about half of her shares and bought a townhouse with the profits. The townhouse is being rented out and the bond of another property is subsidised by this rental income. Lynette relishes in the feeling of freedom and power this has afforded her. Patrice Motsepe states, “With a growing middle class comes an improvement in people’s standards of living, better education, a commitment and a stake in the future of the country but also a growing market”. A growing market that is, in itself, helping Sanlam to grow.

A business won’t do well, however, if it does not also contribute. A failed education system and the concomitant unemployment issues this bring is actively being addressed by Sanlam’s Blue Ladder Schools Programme. To date, it has sustainably improved 75 schools, advanced 1 936 educators and reached a staggering 71 693 learners. It all forms part of the vision of Sanlam to not only be a world-class, competitive, profitable company but also to embrace a sense of humanity, compassion, and caring through its commitment to help the people of South Africa and those on the African continent.

Sibanye-Stillwater

Sibanye-Stillwater shifts the future by engaging communities through the upliftment of learners, students and SMMEs.

18-year-old Dimakatso Mosito is the first person in her family to complete matric. It is something her brother and mother are immensely proud of and their aspirations for her future are almost as big as her own. She is also the recipient of a 2019 Sibanye-Stillwater bursary to study at Wits University and wishes to qualify as an engineer. This, she says, will allow her to fulfil her dream of one day being the one to provide for her family.

Dimakatso’s success is part hard work and dedication and part excellent Maths and Science education she received at Mamello Senior Secondary School in Virginia in the Free State. Global precious metal mining group, Sibanye-Stillwater, has created a Maths Lab which allows the learners to touch, feel and experience Maths rather than feel overwhelmed by the purely theoretical work done in the classroom. It has made Maths fun and has greatly improved the learners’ results.

The Maths Lab was borne out of Sibanye-Stillwater’s ethos of bringing about meaningful and relevant change to the communities in which they operate. They believe that education enables communities to empower themselves and they follow a holistic approach to bring this about. Apart from supporting learners at the school level, their philosophy has sparked their support for the advancement of Science and Technology at tertiary institutions too. At Wits University, in particular, they have created a Digital Mining Laboratory or DigiMine.

DigiMine is a ground-breaking solution that provides a safe, mock-environment in which students can research digital technologies for application in underground mining without the risks involved in a real-life situation. MSc candidate, Mosima Matlhwana, says it’s an amazing place for innovators as they can not only learn the technologies and get practical experience but are also able to immerse themselves in mining culture. For Sibanye-Stillwater, it is an opportunity to put the brightest minds, with their concomitant fresh perspective, onto real-world issues and opportunities present in the mining world.

In addition to implementing state-of-the-art education solutions, Sibanye-Stillwater is also actively involved in improving the prospects of the communities in which it operates. Founder and owner of the start-up business, Siliane Jewels, Anthonia Siliane, is testimony to that. He says that being a business owner is not easy but having been part of the Platinum Incubator has assisted him incredibly. It has taught him practical business skills and aided him with the advancement of his business acumen. To top it all off, he bagged the People’s Choice Award at the prestigious PlatAfrica awards ceremony placing him firmly on both the local and international jewellery design maps. It is results like these that Sibanye-Stillwater thrives on. Not only partnering with communities on what matters to them but also ensuring that these same communities will be sustained long after their mining operations cease to exist.

SPAR

SPAR’s passion for sustainable growth is achieved through transformational retailing, and creates a chain of empowerment from the ground up.

Leydah Sekgobela was taught the secrets of farming by her industrious mother when she was still very young. She says her mother was a fabulous woman, her hero, who impressed upon her to work diligently and showed her how to nurture her crops. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Leydah flourished into a successful farmer in Limpopo’s Mopani district. Noticing her incredible potential, she was included in SPAR’s Rural Hub Project. Along with six other small-scale farmers in the area, Leydah received specialised training, growth plans and mechanisation that enabled these farmers to take their businesses to the next level. Along with training, SPAR also provides a reliable market for their produce which is first sold to a pack-house facility and then on to local SPAR stores and other available outlets.

Through SPAR’s assistance, Leydah was able to graduate from small-scale farming to commercial farming and today employs 16 people. It is an incredible achievement. She appoints women only because, she says, they work fast and “they know what they are doing”. By passing on the skills obtained from her mother, along with the new skills she acquired from SPAR, Leydah is, in turn, empowering these female farmers to thrive. SPAR aims to develop them to the point where they become self-sufficient and it is transformational retailing practices like these that enable SPAR to create a chain of empowerment from the ground up.

Kevin O’Brien, a Risk and Sustainability Executive at SPAR, believes that sustainability stretches further than the environment and that business has the potential to address important issues in society. Along with empowering small-scale farmers, a further link in the SPAR chain of empowerment is its retailers. All SPAR stores are independently owned by entrepreneurs. These business owners are provided with the opportunity to be part of a big brand like SPAR, yet retain their independence as retailers.

Dan Maluleke started out running a family-owned general dealer in Soshanguve. Again demonstrating their knack to spot potential, SPAR invested in Dan’s business by conducting feasibility studies and providing him with produce. Today, Dan owns 11 SPAR stores and employs more than a thousand people and his pride in, and passion for, retail and the communities he serves is evident in the success of his businesses.

SPAR’s purpose is to inspire individuals to be more and do more. As an organisation, it does not only provide a well-known brand and support. It also includes those along its chain of empowerment in the SPAR family. They believe it’s very important that the products that find their way into consumers’ baskets get there as a result of the values upheld by SPAR. However, it is the hard work and commitment of the small-scale farmers and retailers in this family which forms an enormous part of the reason why they can deliver what they do as an organisation.

Standard Bank

Standard Bank uplifts South Africans through innovative education and housing solutions.

Aqeela Parker’s parents never had the opportunity to pursue a university education and because Aqeela comes from a big family where funds for studies had to be split between all the siblings, it seemed probable that Aqeela would follow the same path. That is until Aqeela came across Feenix, an innovative crowdfunding platform for students, sponsored by Standard Bank. Today, Aqeela is proudly completing her Honours in Environmental and Water Science at the University of the Western Cape and is amazed that it took a mere five months for her degree to be fully funded.

Feenix was born in June 2017 in answer to the #FeesMustFall protest movement. The uprising of students against exorbitant university fees resulted in South Africans sitting up and paying attention to the huge challenges students were facing when trying to attend university. Education is central to Standard Bank’s transformation agenda and, after #FeesMustFall, they started considering how they could have a positive impact on tertiary education. Through Feenix, they connect funders with students through the principles of network and collaboration. Students create a profile of themselves which includes a photograph and their story and which, says Feenix COO Leana de Beer, communicates to funders, “These are the young people that you’re helping. They are empowered, they’re strong, they have agency”.

Standard Bank is passionately involved in the drive for inclusive growth as it is a central component of large numbers of South Africans gaining access to economic opportunities. In addition to innovative education solutions, Standard Bank is actively seeking to contribute meaningfully and sustainably towards solving some of the social ills plaguing society today. For instance, almost 80 per cent of South Africans cannot access homeownership. Through their integrated housing solution, Standard Bank is not only making homeownership accessible to thousands of people but is implementing a model which is facilitating ways in which to integrate people, especially socially and economically.

Through a partnership between Standard Bank, the Johannesburg Housing Department and Calgro M3 Property Developers, jobs are created which strengthens the economic position of those families. In addition to this, a big dent is being made in the backlog of 300 000 people on waiting lists for homes in Johannesburg. One such beneficiary is Nomalizo Mba who has waited 22 years for her house and now says she sleeps like a baby at night because she has her own home. Developments are designed to bring people closer to environments of work, healthcare, schools, churches and play and are not only providing security and comfort but can bring back dignity to families, thereby transforming them.

Tiger Brands

Through food parcels and the upgrade of food gardens, Tiger Brands are not only feeding communities but empowering them to be self-reliant.

Vusumuzi Hlongwane completed his matric at the wonderful age of 62. Always wanting to help his community, his dreams were thwarted when his mother passed away and he had to halt his education as a child. Yet, sheer determination allowed him to achieve what not many others tackle at his age. Now, a few years later, he heads up the successful NGO, Thulani Dlamini Home-based Care, in Ferreirastown and is making a considerable difference in the lives of many in this Gauteng community.

The harsh reality in South Africa is that almost twelve million people go to bed hungry each night. Many of these empty bellies are found in households where one granny looks after several orphaned grandkids on a meagre pension. For Vusumuzi it was impossible to sit back and witness people starving so he called on the assistance of the food manufacturing business, Tiger Brands. With their ethos of helping needy communities, Tiger Brands started providing monthly food parcels to the grannies in Vusumuzi’s community. Designed by a nutritionist, the food parcels are nutritive and balanced and are sufficient to feed a family of between four and six people for an entire month.

In Stellenbosch, the Kayamandi-based organisation, Love to Give, is another beneficiary of the Tiger Brands food parcels. In the 13 years that they have been working in Kayamandi, they have managed to reduce the child malnutrition statistics in the area from 75 per cent to a mere two per cent. Annabel Rosholt, founder of Love to Give, believes that people have enormous untapped potential and, when offered the chance, can rise out of their situations. Nono Gqabaza, a granny and beneficiary of Love to Give, looks after a household of 10 and, at the age of 64,  had to learn how to use a laptop. She is immensely proud of her achievement and very grateful that she can provide meals for her kids.

In addition to feeding people, it is extremely important to Tiger Brands that communities do not become reliant on the food parcels but instead become sustainably independent. Through collaborations with implementation partners such as Food and Trees for Africa, Tiger Brands can educate these communities in organic farming practices and assist with the modernisation of their existing community food gardens. By teaching them to farm sustainably, communities learn how to be independent which frees Tiger Brands up to also help in other areas. In partnership with organisations like Love to Give, Food and Trees for Africa, Thulani Dlamini Home-based Care and many others, Tiger Brands manages to feed more than 30 000 people per month. These feeding schemes, paired with the implementation of sustainable food gardens, demonstrate Tiger Brands’ commitment to the responsible corporate citizenry and allow them to truly leave a legacy of sustainability in the communities where they work.

T-Systems

By empowering SA youth with global skills and facilitating rural growth via digital learning, T-Systems is powering the digital economy.

When Naledi Mokone completed Grade 12 in the small township of Vosloorus she had no idea what her next step should be. Her ambitious nature had her rearing to continue her studies at university but lack of funds obstructed her path. Everything seemed set that she would become part of the statistics of unemployed youth in South Africa. That is until she heard about the learnerships offered by global IT services and consulting company, T-Systems, to join their ICT Academy in Johannesburg. She applied and was accepted, placing herself on a new trajectory and a future full of possibilities.

The ICT Academy was created by T-Systems in answer to the IT skills gap in South Africa. Empowering young South Africans, especially young women, with good and relevant skills enables them to contribute to their communities instead of suffering the humiliation of receiving hand-outs from them. They are provided with the opportunity to further their careers, become part of the digital economy and make a difference in their country. Also, the ICT Academy offers an internationally recognised qualification allowing students to write both national and international exams, further broadening their possibility for achievement.

CEO of T-Systems South Africa, Dineo Molefe, is extremely proud of the fact that more than 85% of the ICT Academy students can successfully be placed in a job. Adding to that the fact that more than 50% of these students are young women, makes it a phenomenal achievement and actively addresses unemployment in South Africa. Dineo believes that by economically empowering a woman, you’ve done ten times more as the ripple effect it has is astounding.

T-Systems is also actively devoting its efforts to solving the education and employment challenges in South Africa’s rural areas by providing a ground-breaking solution. Normally, in an attempt to access education and find employment, rural youth need to leave the areas in which they reside adding to their financial burden and vulnerability. Through a partnership with the Good Work Foundation, T-Systems created a digital campus in rural Hazyview where students can gain technical skills without having to leave their homes for urban centres.

In addition, to ensure long-term sustainability, T-Systems set up a service desk in Hazyview allowing these students to enter the digital economy in the rural space while at the same time enabling them to live with, and provide for, their families and communities.

Naledi’s story is so similar to that of other young people in South Africa where talent and ambition are frequently hampered by a lack of opportunities and funding. However, Dineo believes that the right type of decision-making, along with the right type of leadership, will ensure the sustainability of South Africa: “Let’s give young people opportunities to make a difference in their country and to explore opportunities for themselves because, once opportunities are in your hands, no-one can stop you.”