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 2023 and into 2024, celebrating all that is good in South Africa.
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SA INC – We’re not just telling stories, we’re changing lives.
Innovative Solar Technology Powering Skills and Jobs and Community Upliftment.
The scorching heat of the Northern Cape in South Africa has become the backdrop for a groundbreaking solar energy project that is transforming the region. With temperatures reaching extreme levels, the construction of solar plants has become a necessity. Among these remarkable projects is the Red Stone thermal power plant developed by ACWA Power and which harnesses the sun’s rays in an ingenious way.
At the heart of the Red Stone plant lies a tower technology that utilizes a receiver located 250 meters above the ground. This receiver acts like a regular boiler but is unique in its positioning. Surrounding the tower’s base are nearly a million square meters of mirrors that focus the sunlight onto the receiver. This concentrated energy raises the temperature of molten salt to a staggering 565 degrees, generating power that drives a steam turbine at the tower’s base. This groundbreaking technology has positioned the plant as a landmark project, representing one of the most advanced renewable energy solutions available today.
Beyond its technological prowess, the Red Stone plant holds significant benefits for the local community. The Northern Cape is a vast province where job opportunities are scarce and the construction of the solar plant has brought much-needed employment to the region. Local individuals have found work in various roles from environmental officers ensuring proper site management to skilled labourers contributing to the project’s construction. This influx of employment opportunities is a significant step toward the development of a green economy and offers hope for the future.
The Red Stone project has attracted expertise from around the world with professionals from China, Belgium, USA, UK and Israel collaborating to make the endeavour a success. This not only brings diverse perspectives but also aims to transfer knowledge and skills to the local workforce. The goal is to equip the communities with the expertise needed to maintain and operate the plant effectively, fostering their development and independence. With the capacity to power approximately 200,000 homes during peak hours, the plant’s impact on the region’s energy infrastructure is truly remarkable.
Beyond energy production, the Red Stone project also catalyzes community upliftment and social change. With the creation of job opportunities, it empowers individuals who support families and have a direct impact on the lives of others. The ripple effect of a single employment opportunity is profound, providing stability and hope for entire households. The project has particularly benefited young people and the unemployed, granting them access to meaningful work and a chance to build a better future.
ACWA Power, the major shareholder and developer of the Red Stone plant, has shown a steadfast commitment to the project. Supported by a consortium of 12 lenders, including the Central Energy Fund and Pellegrine, along with the Community Trust, the project has overcome numerous challenges. These dedicated investors have demonstrated unwavering support throughout the project’s development, showcasing their belief in the transformative power of renewable energy.
The impact of the Red Stone plant goes beyond energy generation. ACWA Power and its partners actively engage in uplifting the local community in other ways. They have partnered with the University of Stellenbosch to introduce hydroponic farming to the region’s farming communities. This innovative approach opens up new markets and income opportunities leading to improved economic conditions and a better quality of life. The project’s leaders take pride in engaging with the community, understanding their needs and providing platforms for their success.
For all those involved in the Red Stone project, it represents more than just a construction endeavour. It is a journey that brings together cutting-edge technology, sustainable development and social progress. The project’s lasting benefits, both in terms of job creation and community upliftment, exemplify the transformative power of renewable energy. As the plant continues to generate clean and reliable power, it stands as a symbol of hope, innovation and a brighter future for the Northern Cape and beyond.
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Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation has played a transformative role in shaping entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference in South Africa. With its innovative approach to learning, support and mentoring, the Foundation instils a sense of purpose and highlights the power of entrepreneurship in addressing the nation’s most pressing challenges.
One such entrepreneur is Dineo Lioma who is the founder of Deep Medical Therapeutics, a company established in 2018 to make pathology services more accessible and affordable to Africans. Recognizing the high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Africa, particularly in South Africa, Dineo aims to reduce the cost of testing to enable more people to know their status. This mission reflects a deep passion for Africa and a desire to improve healthcare and overall well-being on the continent.
Founded in 2005 by the late Allan Gray, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation focuses on nurturing entrepreneurial potential, not only in Southern Africa but across the entire continent. Its curriculum is designed to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, fostering innovation, problem-solving skills and resilience. The Foundation believes that the contributions of entrepreneurs are crucial for driving positive change.
The journey to becoming an Allan Gray fellow is often marked by serendipity. For Melvyn Lubega of Go1, the encounter took place at a careers fair during his final year of high school. The Allan Gray booth, adorned with an African flag and enticing giveaways, piqued his interest. Upon engaging with the representatives and understanding the Foundation’s mission to support change agents for South Africa’s future, he realized it was the perfect fit.
Recognizing the transformative power of education, Go1 seeks to unlock individuals’ positive potential through a love for learning. Their technology platform serves as an aggregator of short-form courses and learning materials, providing a comprehensive ecosystem for corporate and professional education.
The Allan Gray scholarship encompasses more than just financial support. It offers a unique opportunity to refine one’s entrepreneurial perspective and emphasizes the importance of aiming for significant impact rather than settling for mediocrity. Being part of the Allan Gray community offers the advantage of an entrepreneurial ecosystem with like-minded peers who possess both intelligence and ambition, all working towards contributing to the country’s development.
Addressing another set of African health challenges is Daniel Ndima, CEO of CapeBio. Daniel’s mission is to reduce the continent’s reliance on imported biotechnology products. By developing enzymes for molecular diagnostics, CapeBio aims to provide vital tools for early and accurate disease diagnosis This capability ensures prompt treatment and saves lives. The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation scholarship became the conduit for merging Daniel’s entrepreneurial mindset with his scientific pursuits, pushing him to achieve things he never thought possible. CapeBio’s accomplishment of developing Africa’s first COVID-19 test kit is a testament to its dedication to localized solutions and reducing importation costs.
Ultimately, the work of these entrepreneurs is driven by a deep sense of purpose. They understand that true social impact lies in providing opportunities that were previously inaccessible. By creating change and improving lives, they demonstrate the power of entrepreneurship to drive positive transformation. The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation plays a vital role in supporting these change agents, fostering an ecosystem where passionate individuals can fulfil their potential and leave a lasting legacy of progress and prosperity for South Africa and the continent as a whole.
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Community Empowerment and Green Growth.
The Atlantis Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) is a designated area in South Africa with special rules and tax incentives to stimulate industrial manufacturing. Located in an area previously targeted for settlement under apartheid, it has large tracts of vacant industrial land that are already serviced making it an ideal location for the ASEZ.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in sustainable economies and the Atlantis Special Economic Zone has been designated as a green technology or green-tech economic zone. The goal is to manufacture components for wind towers, wind turbines and solar panels in South Africa, creating a dedicated area for sustainable manufacturing.
One of the investors in the ASEZ is Dr Dean Pillay who built his acetylene plant to create jobs and add value to the economy. Acetylene is used in many industries, including welding and cutting and as a gas that goes into manufacturing solar panels. Dr Pillay’s acetylene plant was commissioned in March 2022, providing jobs for three young people in the area.
Dr Pillay’s long-term goal is to have an oxygen plant next to his acetylene plant, as the two products feed from each other. He also sees a huge opportunity in owning the entire value chain of gas cylinders.
Sustainable manufacturing cannot be achieved without involving and benefiting people. The ASEZ recognizes this and has programs in place to empower the local community, such as the Flame Program. Flame stands for Financial Literacy and Micro-Enterprise and targets small enterprises in Atlantis. Participants receive training in core business skills such as administration, accounting and taxes. The program also provides mentoring and coaching to help participants succeed.
Melanie Andrews, a resident of Atlantis, benefited from the Flame Program and was able to manage her business, Cuddles & Care, more sustainably. Cuddles & Care is a childcare facility that has had over 200 children through its doors since it opened in 2012. Melanie’s focus is on providing proper care and teaching to the children in her care.
Despite her passion, Melanie struggled to obtain funding for her business due to non-compliance and a lack of financial records. The Flame Program helped her learn the skills she needed to run her business successfully. She learned about administration, accounting, costing, taxes and compliance. The program also provided mentoring and coaching, helping her with documentation and teaching her how to save. Thanks to the Flame Program, Melanie saw a profit for the first time in six months and was able to buy a new stove for her business with cash.
The Atlantis Food Security program is another example of the ASEZ’s efforts to empower the local community. The program targets small-scale farmers and provides them with the skills they need to run a farm as a business. Anastasia Smith is one of the successful participants in the program. She recently won a contract to supply a local retailer with fresh produce, providing her with a steady income and helping to address food insecurity in the area.
The Atlantis Special Economic Zone is a great opportunity to turn existing infrastructure into something special. By focusing on sustainable manufacturing and community empowerment, the ASEZ is creating jobs and adding value to the local economy. Programs like the Flame Program and the Atlantis Food Security program are helping small businesses and farmers succeed, providing a path to a better future for the people of Atlantis.
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Nurturing language and literacy skills and providing resources for education.
AVBOB, a prominent South African funeral insurance and burial service provider, is actively engaged in promoting inclusive language, literacy and educational outcomes in the country. The AVBOB Poetry Competition serves as a significant initiative for fostering expression and talent among South Africans. The competition, launched in 2018 as part of AVBOB’s centenary celebrations, invites individuals to submit poems related to themes such as birth, death, love and hope. It aims to connect people who possess the power of words with those who are seeking solace or inspiration.
The competition has garnered significant participation and popularity, receiving tens of thousands of entries each year. AVBOB publishes selected poems on its website, ensuring a diverse range of voices and languages are represented. With over 19,000 poems currently available on the AVBOB Poetry Project website, individuals from different backgrounds and linguistic preferences can find content that resonates with them.
Recognising the importance of multilingualism and inclusivity, AVBOB accepts entries in all eleven official languages of South Africa. This commitment to showcasing diverse languages and cultures contributes to the decolonisation of literature and promotes accessibility to indigenous languages. To further facilitate access to these languages, AVBOB has produced a book that includes all eleven official languages allowing readers to navigate through various cultures and expand their linguistic horizons.
The impact of the AVBOB Poetry Competition extends beyond publishing winning entries. Constructive criticism is provided to poets to foster growth and improvement. The competition not only serves as a platform for established poets but also gives aspiring writers, including students, an opportunity to have their work published and recognised.
AVBOB’s involvement in literacy and language education dates back to 2012 when the company started donating container libraries to primary schools. Recognising the challenges faced by underserved and rural communities, AVBOB initiated the Road to Literacy Campaign, donating trolley libraries filled with books to schools with fewer than 600 learners. This campaign, conducted in partnership with Oxford University Press, aims to make books readily available to learners and support their development in reading for meaning. By incorporating mother tongue books, learners are encouraged to progress to other languages, such as English, as they advance in their education.
The positive impact of AVBOB’s initiatives is evident in the testimonials from schools and learners benefiting from the trolley libraries and school renovations. The trolley libraries provide learners with access to books, promoting a love for reading and improving language skills. Learners appreciate the opportunity to explore different languages and cultures through the books provided. Furthermore, AVBOB’s investment in renovating schools, specifically those with asbestos classrooms, has created healthier and technologically advanced learning environments, resulting in improved academic performance and a sense of pride among learners and educators alike.
AVBOB’s engagements and commitment to inclusive language, literacy and educational outcomes in South Africa have created platforms for self-expression, showcased the diverse talent and addressed the challenges faced by underserved communities. By nurturing language and literacy skills and providing resources for education, AVBOB is making a significant contribution to the cultural and educational landscape of the country.
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Strategic and social investments enable significant positive change.
Bidvest has made significant strategic and social investments to uplift and transform the country. Their Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives are aimed at creating meaningful change and making a positive social impact.
One of their key areas of focus has been school infrastructure, particularly addressing the serious issue of pit toilets, which pose a danger to children. In Daggakraal, Mpumalanga, Bidvest has implemented an innovative solution called Enviro Loo, which treats water on-site and saves resources by recirculating water. This program has brought about clean and comfortable sanitation facilities in schools, significantly improving the lives of students.
Bidvest also recognizes the importance of partnering with government and smaller businesses to drive economic growth. They have implemented a supplier diversity program that aims to support smaller businesses and help them grow into large enterprises that create jobs. Lemo, a beneficiary of this program, joined with his innovative cleaning solutions. Using motorbikes for mobility, he introduced the concept of cleaning ATMs, a unique idea that only Bidvest Prestige and Urban Mobility could bring to life. Lemo received tremendous support from Bidvest Prestige, including mentorship from executives and guidance on running a business. As a result, his company has experienced remarkable growth, increasing its employee count from 6 to 22 and aiming to eventually reach 100 employees.
In addition to supporting small businesses, Bidvest understands the importance of training and skills development, particularly in a country with high unemployment rates. They have various cadet programs designed to build unique skills within the organization. One notable example is their cadet training program in the drone business, known as UDS. UDS utilizes drones for the surveillance of major infrastructure, contributing significantly to asset protection. Bidvest is passionate about youth development and has trained over 320 cadet pilots with 90% of them being young black pilots and 14% being black female pilots. This initiative has empowered previously unemployed individuals, helping them to become certified drone pilots and providing them with exciting career opportunities.
From improving school infrastructure to supporting small businesses and providing training and skills development, Bidvest is invested in creating and enabling significant positive change in South Africa. And with a responsible business strategy, they are making a meaningful impact on society.
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Growing local businesses and uplifting communities.
From its roots as a family-owned business to its African footprint with 110 stores and over 13,000 team members, Builders has always placed significant emphasis on being part of the society in which it operates and prides itself on growing local businesses and uplifting communities.
The partnership between Builders and Beck Trading is a clear demonstration of this ethos. Beck Trading started in 1992 with a small factory producing personal protective clothing. Since joining the Builders value chain, however, the company has been able to expand its product range from 1 to 28 products and grow its workforce to roughly 1,800 people across two factories.
This partnership has also provided job opportunities to the local community where unemployment rates are at 70%. One of the long-standing employees, Lilian Vesele, shares how the job has allowed her to support her family and build her own house.
In addition to Beck Trading, Builders has also partnered with Zoko Building Supplies, a small company founded by Norma Ledford and her late husband. With Builders’ open credit account and assistance in acquiring materials, Zoko Building Supplies has been able to take on bigger projects and grow its business. The partnership is not only beneficial for Builders but also for the local community, as it creates economic opportunities for their customers.
Aside from uplifting local businesses, Builders has also made a positive impact through its partnership with Hope Worldwide, an international faith-based and non-governmental organisation that focuses on early childhood development centres. The NGO works in supporting preschools to comply with government norms and standards to be registered, access subsidies and become environments that are safe and conducive to learning. And it is through partnerships with corporates like Builders that this has been made possible with the provision of building, paint and plumbing supplies that have enabled these spaces to be transformed into a source of pride and inspiration for beneficiary communities.
Across its supply chain and social investments, Builders has shown how a successful business can also have a positive impact on the local community by supporting local businesses and organisations. Their partnerships have not only benefitted the businesses themselves but also created job opportunities and economic growth in the community. Builders has become more than just a hardware retailer, they have become a partner in building better lives and better businesses.
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Systemic Interventions to Educate and Uplift Youth: DBSA’s DLab Program
The DLab (Development Lab) program, initiated by the Development Bank for Southern Africa (DBSA), aims to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, inequality and unemployment by providing systemic interventions to educate and uplift youth in underserved communities throughout South Africa. The program collaborates with grassroots organizations like Amandla and RLabs to empower young people and build institutional capacity.
Safe Hub, a model developed by Florian Zech, Amandla’s Co-founder, acts as a safe haven for young people in townships, offering a wide range of opportunities and support. Florian’s experience of growing up privileged in Germany motivated him to address the challenges faced by young individuals in Khayelitsha. The DBSA played a crucial role in supporting Safe Hub’s scaling efforts, enabling the establishment of nine DLab sites across South Africa.
One of the key components of this DLab program is the Youth Cafe where Morena Mosimaka, the Youth Cafe component Lead, utilizes his studies in children and youth development to make a positive impact. The program provides a safe space for young individuals to access various opportunities, receive support from role models and set their lives on a successful trajectory.
The DBSA’s commitment to funding fully-fledged precincts like the Westridge DLab site showcases its dedication to creating spaces that facilitate change within communities. Bulelwa Pityana, DBSA Development Disruption Specialist, emphasizes the significance of the program’s convening activities, interventions and opportunities which aim to bring about real and meaningful change for the community.
The core objective of the DLab program is to partner with organizations that excel in grassroots development work, such as RLabs, which focuses on nurturing individuals and building institutional capacity. By investing in human creativity and innovation and establishing impactful partnerships, the DBSA aims to create sustainable local economies and foster development within communities.
Rene Parker, RLabs Founder, emphasizes the importance of integrating entrepreneurship with digital skills training to equip individuals with the tools they need to start their own businesses and adapt to technological advancements. The strategic partnership between RLabs and the DBSA has accelerated their work and allowed them to scale their initiatives effectively.
Lucretia Splinters, Founder of the Entrepreneurship Hub, highlights the significance of platforms that support marginalized communities like Mitchell’s Plain where resources and spaces for entrepreneurship and innovation are scarce. The DBSA’s support plays a vital role in nurturing such communities and helping them thrive.
The impact of the DLab program extends beyond physical infrastructure. It fosters a sense of ownership, pride and belonging within the community. By providing access to employment opportunities and various programs, such as sports, health services and digital offerings, the program strives to empower individuals and bring economic activity to townships and rural areas.
DBSA’s role in facilitating public-private partnerships also brings job opportunities to underserved communities. The program not only provides essential services like healthcare checks but also supports the establishment of businesses such as call centres which contribute to the sustainability of the precinct.
The DLab program’s impact is witnessed firsthand by Nponceba Matross and Ncamiso Zikalala, participants in the Skills Enhancement and Playmaker Programs, respectively. They express gratitude for the opportunities and direction the program has provided them, emphasizing the positive change it has brought to their lives.
In summary, the DBSA’s DLab program is a systemic intervention that aims to educate and uplift youth in underserved communities. By partnering with grassroots organizations, investing in human potential and fostering public-private partnerships, the program strives to break the cycle of poverty and create sustainable change in South Africa.
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DBSA - Umgeni
Improving the livelihoods of communities whilst preserving the integrity of nature.
A key focus of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) is sustainable development and the preservation of natural ecosystems for future generations.
The Umgeni catchment dams hold about 800 million cubic metres of water and the soil in this catchment holds about 1.6 billion cubic metres of water. It is clear to see the value of these natural ecosystems and how critical it is to water security. DBSA works closely with municipalities, government, the private sector, NGOs and academics to deliver infrastructure projects that incorporate gender, social and environmental aspects so that the projects can be sustainable and remain relevant. The DBSA aims to improve the livelihoods of the communities in those areas while preserving the integrity of nature.
One such project, the Palmiet Ecological Infrastructure Project, involves biodiversity management and includes capacitating and employing people from informal settlements within or close to the catchment. Through the Enviro-Champ program, these participants went through a series of training exercises helping them to understand the natural environment, see the harm that’s being done and how that influences them negatively and positively.
Simoso Bhengu, a Senior Climate Change Scientist with eThekwini Municipality, explains how the industrial pollution, spillages and waste in rivers are putting extensive pressure on the infrastructure. The Umgeni catchment serves around 5 million people and Midmar Dam is significantly polluted by the water coming from a faulty sewer system in Mpophomeni, resulting in slightly diluted sewage that is coming down and entering the dam.
Pearl Gola, the Ecological Infrastructure Coordinator at SANBI is part of the Umgeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership to look after the Umgeni catchment from source to sea. The catchment is seen as a very integrated socio-ecological system. In between the sewage treatment works and the dam in Mpophomeni, there is a vast wetland. Because the wastewater treatment works in Mpophomeni were not working, the wetland itself was getting degraded. Therefore, the wastewater treatment works could not just be refurbished without working on the wetland too since it supplements the wastewater treatment works. If you rehabilitate a wetland, the biodiversity in that wetland will improve and the wetland will be functional.
The function of the wetland is purification. For the actual rehabilitation, the community also needed to be engaged and the Enviro-Champs have been knocking on doors and teaching the community that we only have 1% fresh water, we don’t have another earth and what is happening in society is affecting nature.
When the natural infrastructure works properly, it also brings down the costs of funding.
The DBSA believes that it is our duty to protect the natural environment for future generations, working towards a just transition and water security while improving the lives and livelihoods of the local communities.
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Powering Young Scientists and Electrifying Communities.
The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, a national science fair aimed at nurturing scientific curiosity among students, has been empowering young minds and electrifying communities for 42 years. With over 100,000 participants annually across 35 regions, the expo has become a platform for showcasing scientific innovation and fostering future leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The journey for many young scientists and their passion for science begins at an early age. Inspired by a book on astronomy, one participant recounts how his interest in the universe grew, leading him to study both astronomy and physics. The Eskom Expo provided him with an opportunity to explore the realms of science and gain a comprehensive understanding of everything from subatomic particles to galaxies.
The Expo has evolved over the years, expanding its categories to include artificial intelligence engineering, novel energy solutions and environmental science. Projects now focus on the energy, water and food nexus, addressing pressing issues related to sustainability. Participants have developed innovative solutions such as creating AI algorithms to optimize garden watering systems and formulating natural herbicides to replace harmful chemicals.
The impact of the Eskom Expo extends beyond the fair itself. It instils a love for maths, science, innovation and learning in young minds, paving the way for their future success. By nurturing this potential from primary school through matriculation and higher education, the Expo sets students on a path to becoming the next generation of scientists and innovators.
The Expo also provides a platform for students to receive feedback and guidance from experts in various fields. The opportunity to interact with professionals and receive constructive criticism helps participants improve their projects and enhances their research skills. The knowledge and skills gained through the Expo have proven invaluable, aiding them in their university studies and future endeavours.
However, the challenge lies not only in igniting the creativity of South African youth but also in supporting them to develop their ideas into viable projects. The Eskom Expo aims to help participants commercialize their concepts, patent their innovations and turn them into tangible solutions for real-world problems. By leveraging science, technology and engineering, young innovators can contribute to tackling challenges like climate change and social injustice, fostering a more sustainable future for all.
Eskom’s impact extends beyond scientific endeavours as the company has played a crucial role in electrifying communities. South Africa, once with only 34% electrification in 1991, has made tremendous progress, reaching 90% electrification with 6 million homes powered. This achievement makes South Africa the leading electrified country in Africa. Collaborating with the Department of Human Settlements, Eskom works to ensure that areas receive civil infrastructure before electrification, transforming informal settlements into formal areas.
The transformation brought about by electricity is evident in communities like Mfuleni. The availability of electricity has enabled residents to open small businesses, providing economic opportunities and improving livelihoods. Entrepreneurs, such as a vet food seller and a beauty salon owner, testify to the positive impact electricity has had on their businesses. It enables them to cook, warm up food and operate appliances critical to their trade. Electricity acts as an enabler and amplifier of opportunity, empowering households and individuals to pursue economic growth and improve their quality of life.
The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists and Eskom’s electrification efforts demonstrate the power of science and electricity in transforming lives and communities. By nurturing young scientists and providing access to electricity, South Africa is fostering a generation of innovators while empowering communities to thrive in the modern world.
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The importance of SMEs and the promotion of financial inclusion.
Global financial data company, Experian, believes that small and medium enterprises will be key to the recovery of the South African economy and has partnered with the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) to create the ‘How To Be Financially Fit’ campaign, aimed at educating SMEs on improving their financial health and credit scores.
Zakhele Mgobhozi is the founder and group managing director of Modern Centric Holdings, a business dedicated to promoting the inclusion of marginalized communities in the South African economy, particularly the LGBTI community. As a business owner himself, Zakhele recognizes the importance of credit and partnering with institutions like Experian to improve his financial health.
Celeste le Roux is the founder of the React Group, a group of companies in the construction industry. She is passionate about promoting women’s representation in the industry and recognizes the importance of a good credit score for accessing funding. React Group has been recognized by NSBC for their entrepreneurial efforts and has internalized the importance of financial health in building its business.
Experian understands that the only way we are going to change the future of South Africa is by getting people formally into the economy and it has built a long-standing relationship with the NGO, Rhiza Babuyile, to facilitate this objective by training youth to become entrepreneurs.
Morero Moloi is an entrepreneur who has benefitted from this engagement. Morero’s mission is to create entrepreneurs through his company, McMore Muffins, by making franchising accessible to those who may not have had the opportunity before and providing all the tools and resources necessary to succeed.
To further this agenda, Experian has also been working to promote financial inclusion across the African continent through education and technology and has developed a free consumer app called UP which focuses on improving financial literacy and credit scores.
With the help of these partnerships and interventions, there is a growing recognition by entrepreneurs of the importance of financial health and credit scores in building and growing successful businesses. They also recognize the importance of playing their role in promoting financial inclusion and supporting marginalized communities in the South African economy. Through engagement with organizations like Experian and NSBC, they can access the resources and support necessary to succeed.
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Providing a supportive environment for beneficiaries to develop skills and become self-sufficient.
Fedgroup’s Beneficiary Care program highlights the importance of people-centric engagement in managing the finances of vulnerable children. The program goes beyond just managing money to provide a supportive environment where beneficiaries can thrive and develop their skills.
When Melita’s parents passed away, she was just 15 years old and had to step up to become both a sister and mother to her younger sister. The Fedgroup Beneficiary program helped her to manage the financial burdens that came with this responsibility. It removed the stress of paying for school fees, uniforms, transport and food, enabling her to focus on her education as well as being a supportive caregiver to her younger sister.
For many businesses, beneficiary funds are seen as an additional product that allows them to earn fees on assets. However, Fedgroup recognizes that these funds are much more than that. They offer a Beneficiary Care product which is designed to treat beneficiaries as children who have lost their parents, rather than just as investors.
The program follows a people-centric engagement approach. The beneficiary care team is made up of people who are parents and who were beneficiaries themselves. Calls can be taken in any of the official 11 languages and Fedgroup ensures that payments are made within 24 hours for urgent requests.
Kgoagelo Chauke is a Beneficiary Care administrator who was also a beneficiary of the fund. Having gone through the experience himself, he has valuable insight and empathy for the beneficiaries and their needs, fostering an environment of trust and support.
Fedgroup’s commitment to people-centric engagement extends beyond just managing the finances of beneficiaries. They have also created opportunities for them to gain work experience and develop their skills. The Iteke Learnership program is one such initiative that is open only to beneficiaries who have lost a parent. The learners in the Iteke program are rotated through various departments over a year, completing a year-long qualification with 12 months of workplace experience. The program uses a holistic approach and is designed to provide a supportive environment where beneficiaries can thrive.
The success of this program can be seen in the number of beneficiaries who have been employed by Fedgroup. Approximately 10% of their current staff complement are ex-vulnerable children who were once beneficiaries of the program. This statistic is a testament to the effectiveness of Fedgroup’s approach to people-centric engagement and the impact that it has had on the lives of beneficiaries.
By prioritizing the needs of beneficiaries and creating opportunities for them to develop their skills, Fedgroup has been able to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those they serve. Their approach highlights the importance of empathy, trust and support in managing beneficiary funds and ultimately helping beneficiaries to find employment and become self-sufficient.
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Supporting small businesses and creating better futures.
Hollard has created a campaign that helps small businesses survive and create a better future for themselves. The campaign, called “Big Ads for Small Business”, was launched to support small businesses that were the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign involved Hollard giving its ad spend and space away to small businesses to significantly boost the visibility and increase the revenue of these small businesses.
The campaign’s success is evident in the stories of three small businesses: Ronewa Creations, Moja Chicken and Koni Wines.
Lesego and Dinah of Ronewa Creations had to face several challenges, including operating in a male-dominated industry and raising capital for the resources required. However, with the help of the campaign, Ronewa Creations grew tenfold, secured contracts they had previously been pursuing for years and had to hire more people and purchase more vehicles and equipment.
Letlogonolo (Tloks) Motseeng, the founder of Moja Chicken, had a difficult time during the pandemic and was sleeping in his car for three months. With the help of the campaign, Moja Chicken now has nine national franchises and Tloks is already busy with his next entrepreneurial venture.
Koni Maliehe, the owner of Koni Wines, was self-funded and had used all her savings to start the business. By the end of 2017, she had officially run out of money but she kept on going. With the campaign’s help, Koni Wines now has a substantial local business selling wine online and export contracts that she could have only dreamed of which she attributes to the credibility of being associated with the Hollard brand.
The campaigns were executed simultaneously, starting with out-of-home, then TV, radio, community print, street ads, bus shelters and a whole social media content plan for each business. The objective was to ensure that every business grew in response to the exposure that they would get whilst concurrently amplifying the Hollard brand as a company committed to creating better futures.
In total, 12 small businesses out of the 300 businesses submitted were chosen for the campaign. The Hollard team went through a rigorous vetting process to ensure that the businesses would not topple over if they got millions of inquiries from being on TV. The campaign’s success can be attributed to the careful selection of the businesses, the thorough vetting process and the coordinated execution of the campaign.
But the success of the campaign goes beyond the growth of the businesses. It also highlighted the resilience and ingenuity of small business owners and is a testament to the win-win impact that can be achieved through innovative solutions and system business strategy.
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Mobile technology and digital money are powering small business growth.
The proliferation of mobile technology and digital money is enabling the growth of small businesses in South Africa, particularly those with limited access to traditional credit. Ikhokha, a card payments business, recognizes the potential for mobile technology to provide a holistic ecosystem of tools to help small businesses grow and survive.
One significant challenge for SMEs in South Africa is the lack of a credit track record due to their cash-based turnover which limits their ability to access working capital from traditional players. Mastercard is a technology business that understands the importance of Fintechs like Ikhokha who play a vital role in expanding acceptance infrastructure and making financial services available to merchants. They understand specific categories for enablement and have thought through the process of bringing merchants on board and supporting them with ancillary services beyond card payment services.
The convergence of technologies, particularly the proliferation of mobile phones, makes it the form factor of choice for both consumers and merchants to operate on. Ikhokha’s Tap-on-Phone app, which leverages the NFC capability of an Android smartphone, turns a customer’s card into a card-present payment by tapping it on the merchant’s smartphone. Merchants love the app because it’s fast and easy to use, making it a win-win for both them and their clients. And being able to accept card payments increases turnover and facilitates growth for SMEs.
In this ecosystem, Mastercard plays a crucial role as an enabler by developing an understanding of how consumers can transact digitally, safely and securely without the burden of cash and with guarantees for both merchants and consumers.
Mastercard’s partnership with Ikhokha has multiple facets to it, including working together to ensure that new technology like Tap-on-Phone is secure and works for merchants and cardholders. They also aim to leverage digital to reach grassroots-level entrepreneurs, drive education around new technology and promote acceptance with SMEs.
Ultimately, Ikhokha’s purpose is to enable and empower business owners so they can employ more people, earn more money, increase their livelihoods and drive change in their communities. Mobile technology and digital money are powering small business growth and partnerships between Fintechs like Ikhokha and companies like Mastercard are vital for enabling this growth to continue.
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Together Mzanzi: McDonald’s Committed Contribution to Education, Jobs and Socio-Economic Development Across South African Communities.
McDonald’s South Africa embraces the spirit of unity and social responsibility through its ongoing initiative called “Together Mzanzi”. This initiative goes beyond being a mere campaign. It is ingrained in the DNA of McDonald’s and serves as a rallying call for all South Africans to join forces and utilize McDonald’s as a conduit for positive change within their communities.
In recent years, South Africa has faced numerous challenges, fostering a heightened awareness within McDonald’s of the need to make a meaningful impact. As a result, the company has chosen to support select causes that have a significant effect on local communities. McDonald’s aims to leverage its resources and skills to bring about positive change and improve the lives of those residing in the areas where it operates.
One impactful partnership that exemplifies McDonald’s commitment to social betterment is the Mobile Barber initiative. In 2019, Elizabeth Hurriesunker established the Mobile Barber, a salon on wheels that provides free haircuts to underprivileged communities. Financial challenges threatened the sustainability of this noble operation but McDonald’s stepped in as a supportive partner and provided financial assistance. The Mobile Barber now visits various organizations, including orphanages, disability homes, old age homes, skill centres and schools, bringing smiles to people’s faces and instilling a sense of joy in Elizabeth.
Furthermore, McDonald’s has collaborated with stakeholders in its value chain to empower communities and schools by establishing vegetable gardens. At Thoka Thaba Senior School, McDonald’s’ intervention helped revive an existing garden by purchasing seeds and modernizing the beds. Today, the school boasts a state-of-the-art food garden where learners enthusiastically participate in gardening activities. Through hands-on experiences, they learn the processes of planting seeds, nurturing seedlings and cultivating the land. Skumbuzo Nkosi, an EMS Educator at the school, envisions a future where learners become self-sufficient individuals with the understanding that even if they are unemployed, they can utilize available land to generate income.
The Computer Bus is another significant initiative spearheaded by McDonald’s. Responding to the lack of computer access among school-going children in the communities they serve, the Nathoo Brothers, who operate McDonald’s franchises in KZN, conceptualized this project. The bus, equipped with 32 laptops, travels between schools and offers a basic computer literacy course. Children can experience hands-on learning and familiarise themselves with essential software like Microsoft Excel and explore the internet. This initiative broadens their horizons and empowers them with valuable digital skills.
McDonald’s firmly believes in diversity, equity and inclusion, ensuring that everyone has equal employment opportunities. The company’s partnership with Job-Abled exemplifies this commitment. Marius Erasmus, principal of Alta Du Toit School for youth with learning disabilities, is the driving force behind Job-Abled. The platform connects school leavers with job opportunities and enables them to upload their profiles whilst corporate companies post available positions. McDonald’s was the first to participate in job shadowing, allowing individuals to practice their skills for a year. Upon successful completion, they are offered employment. McDonald’s’ leadership in the Job-Abled initiative has inspired other companies to join in, fostering more opportunities for the intellectually disabled.
Anele Rwalumbana, a wheelchair-bound individual, shares a heartfelt testimony of how McDonald’s has transformed his life. His job at McDonald’s is to assist customers with orders and help them to download the McDonald’s app. With this job, Anele earns a living, supports his family and engages in activities he is passionate about. McDonald’s has been the catalyst for positive change in his life.
Together Mzanzi embodies the essence of Ubuntu, uniting people and acknowledging the indispensable role played by the South African community. McDonald’s South Africa firmly believes that it cannot exist without the support and partnership of the people and the country. By uniting forces and working collectively, McDonald’s aims to do even more and recognises that their impact is magnified when they collaborate with the South African community. Together Mzanzi is a testament to the fact that there is no “us” without “you”.
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Promoting socioeconomic development and financial inclusion in townships.
Nedbank is a bank that is dedicated to promoting socioeconomic development and financial inclusion in townships. This is done through various initiatives that focus on growing thriving entrepreneurial businesses and providing easy access to banking services.
The ‘Proud of My Town’ initiative was launched to address the high unemployment rate in Mamelodi. The community leaders were engaged to develop solutions and it was decided to infuse the spirit of entrepreneurship through workshops that would create thriving businesses. The competition, Pitch and Hustle, was held and Onica’s Optimal Balance mobile spa was declared the winner. Onica expresses her gratitude for the prize which gave her a vision of where she wants to go. And it would not have been possible without the support of Nedbank.
Ciko Thomas, the Group Managing Executive for Nedbank Retail and Business Banking, is also a child of the townships and recognizes that they are where the biggest chunk of the South African population lives and where a lot of money moves. Micro-industries are the primary creators of employment in townships and supporting entrepreneurial ventures makes sense in a country like South Africa where there are deep wells of unemployment.
Building the resilience of the township economy requires partnering with people on the ground for success. The Township Entrepreneurs Alliance (TEA) works with Nedbank to support township entrepreneurs. TEA has been able to directly impact over 60,000 township entrepreneurs nationally. The flagship township business workshops share information and provides business development support as well as networking and training entrepreneurs.
Bulelani Balabala, the founder of TEA, believes that learning how to pitch for sales is the lifeline of every business and whilst the prize for the winning pitch is a great incentive, the big win is that Nedbank localizes all procurement. Everything at the events, from content to catering, comes from the immediate community where the work is being done which exemplifies the kind of inclusive disruption needed from a big business.
However, between COVID and the riots and looting, township Entrepreneurs were impacted the most. So to take their engagement a step further, Nedbank set up an initiative to inject funds to rebuild these businesses and show their firm support to the affected communities, enabling businesses like Queens Salon and many others to pay salaries and purchase equipment to get themselves back on their feet.
Accessibility is a key part of financial inclusion and Nedbank spends a lot of time, effort and money providing the best service to communities. This has resulted in some of the bank’s biggest and shiniest branches being established in townships with the best infrastructure and investment per square meter that can be found in any bank worldwide. Additionally, where it is not economically viable to have a dedicated branch presence, Nedbank partners with other companies, such as Cash Build and Boxer stores, to house a small micro Nedbank branch ensuring ease of use and access for all its customers. This extends to SASSA grants and ensures that the elderly have easy access to their funds instead of having to queue for hours.
In conclusion, Nedbank’s deep engagement in uplifting the community speaks to a bank that embodies its purpose as money experts who do good. By focusing on driving socioeconomic development and financial inclusion, they are helping to create thriving entrepreneurial businesses and enabling convenience and easy access to banking services that will drive the engines of growth.
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Making a major impact in the mining value chain.
Sibanye-Stillwater, a significant player in the mining industry, is actively involved in developing small businesses from local communities. They recognise the need to empower women and promote their relevance in mining. Ofentse Lekalakal, the founder and CEO of Golaotswe Mining Services, exemplifies this commitment. Starting with just one employee in 2014, the company has now grown to employ 197 individuals at Sibanye. As a former HR manager at Sibanye, Ofentse’s passion and experience in mining recruitment have translated into entrepreneurial success.
Sibanye-Stillwater has taken deliberate steps to include women in their supply chain and Ofentse’s involvement as a former mineworker showcases the realization of her passion post-employment. Her expertise in mining recruitment has contributed to her success in this field. Additionally, Ofentse emphasizes skills transfer, ensuring that the next generation is equipped to take over the industry. She credits her achievements to the support of the Sibanye community, especially in Marikana, her birthplace, which holds a special place in her heart.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Sibanye-Stillwater prioritizes shared value and actively involves local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in their operations. They aim to include these businesses in their supply chain and provide growth opportunities. The Gege Group is one of the many companies benefiting from their collaboration.
Obake Gege, the founder of the Gege Group, had a vision of working with Sibanye while in university. Eventually, through perseverance and prayers, his company secured a tender for grass-cutting and horticulture services. This opportunity opened doors to further collaborations with other mines and businesses. Currently employing over 185 individuals, the Gege Group has made a positive impact on job creation and supporting families. Obake’s passion for empowering others and contributing to a greater purpose keeps him motivated.
Sibanye-Stillwater acknowledges the eventual cessation of its operations and actively develops social closure plans to ensure sustained economic growth in the communities they operate in. To foster entrepreneurship, they have implemented the Phakamani Business Development program, also known as the Start-Up Program for Marikana. This program provides training, mentoring and financial assistance to incubate local businesses.
Icadot, a 100% black-owned engineering company led by Tshepo Modisanyane, is an example of a business incubated by Sibanye. Through the Phakamani program, Icadot has experienced significant improvement. The training and skills acquired have empowered Tshepo to approach business ideas more effectively. With their workforce expanding from nine to 32 employees, Tshepo feels a sense of achievement in providing employment opportunities and overcoming the challenges faced since the company’s humble beginnings. This success story brings him to tears when reflecting on the journey.
Overall, Sibanye-Stillwater’s commitment to developing small businesses from local communities is evident through its inclusive supply chain practices and the Phakamani program. By empowering women, supporting local businesses and fostering entrepreneurship, they are driving sustainable economic growth and leaving a positive impact on the mining value chain.
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Innovative SOE powering healthcare, graduate development and small business growth.
Transnet, a state-owned transport and logistics company in South Africa, has been investing in programs that empower individuals and small businesses whilst also contributing to the growth of the healthcare sector.
One such initiative is the engineering development program which funds students to study towards an engineering qualification and subsequently be absorbed into the Transnet ecosystem as engineers in training. This program not only covers tuition and accommodation but also aims to develop well-rounded engineers who can contribute to the larger community.
Therese Quobela, a participant in the program, was inspired to work hard and pass her degree in record time. She is passionate about her work and was motivated to be in a historically male-dominated space. She advises current students to never lose sight of their dreams, work hard and prove themselves so that opportunities can come their way.
Apart from the engineering development program, Transnet also runs the Phelophepa Train, a CSR initiative aimed at providing healthcare services to marginalized communities. The train does a nine-month journey across the country, providing healthcare services for two weeks in each community where it is stationed at. Phelophepa is also about teaching and provides final-year medical students with invaluable practical learning experiences. Almost 30 years on, Phelophepa has reached the 15-million patient mark, an impressive feat for an infrastructure company with no prior experience in healthcare.
South Africa still faces significant challenges though in terms of inequality, poverty and unemployment. Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) account for 90% of businesses in the country and provide opportunities to marginalized communities. To support these businesses, Transnet has developed programs such as the Godisa Enterprise Development Fund (EDF) which provides financial assistance to suppliers within the Transnet system.
VHN Engineering and Projects, a mechanical engineering company specializing in steel manufacturing, received funding from the Godisa EDF. This funding enabled them to pay their suppliers and to purchase machines needed to effectively service a large order they would have otherwise not been able to accept. This successful rollout of the contract enabled Company Director, Mthuthuzeli Zondi, to put their business on the map and he can now confidently advise small business owners to follow their dreams, put a plan in place and find the right supportive partners to help build a lasting legacy.
Transnet understands that as a state-owned entity, it has a responsibility to develop skills, empower individuals and small businesses and contribute to society. Its innovative programs and initiatives demonstrate the company’s commitment to making a positive impact in South Africa.
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Volkswagen BEE Trust
Unwavering commitment to entrepreneurship, job creation and inclusivity.
In the heart of South Africa, the Volkswagen BEE Trust is igniting a powerful movement to cultivate small businesses across the nation. With a deep commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and economic growth, the trust focuses on incubation programs and funding opportunities and places special emphasis on women-owned businesses within the automotive value chain. The aim is clear, to empower South African entrepreneurs, elevate their success rates and, ultimately, bolster the country’s socio-economic landscape.
The journey begins with Akhona Mosiane, the proud owner of GR Man. Akhona’s love for trucks runs deep and is fueled by a relentless thirst for knowledge and a profound appreciation for the intricate beauty of these mechanical beasts. Despite humble beginnings, Akhona’s determination and the support of mentors guided her from the University of the Free State to a career in the insurance industry. But it was the automotive sector that truly ignited her passion.
Sally Marengo, the visionary behind KPL Die Casting, had a different path. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to import bathroom accessories but the quest for affordable products propelled her into manufacturing. The realisation that aluminium was the key to the automotive industry marked the birth of her flagship business. KPL Die Casting soon flourished, operating across multiple industries and crafting an impressive array of products.
These dynamic individuals caught the attention of Nonkqubela Maliza, the Director of Corporate Affairs at Volkswagen. With unwavering dedication, Nonkqubela has worked to rectify the gender imbalance within the automotive sector. She connected Akhona and Sally to the VW BEE Trust, opening doors to new opportunities and invaluable support.
Through collaboration with partners like Raizcorp, the trust has extended its reach. Claire Kiveo, the owner of Overall Events, yearned to channel her creative energy into impactful ventures. The Raizcorp Incubator program became her guiding light, providing a nurturing environment where her business could flourish. With VW as a sponsor, doors of opportunity swung open, leading to exciting projects like designing wellness buildings and ambulances.
Meanwhile, Mondre Gallant, the visionary behind WaterWell, embarked on his entrepreneurial journey with a small water shop. Unexpectedly, the pandemic ushered in a heightened consciousness for health and spurred a surge in demand for water. As Mondre’s business thrived, Raizcorp became an integral part of his growth. The program’s unwavering support and guidance fostered an environment where he and his business could truly flourish.
The VW BEE Trust’s efforts don’t end there. Their Kariega Township Economic Development Program is a testament to their dedication. By delving into the automotive, recycling, beauty and personal care sectors, the trust actively seeks out talented entrepreneurs. These individuals are equipped with the skills, resources and commercial opportunities necessary for sustainable success.
The Trust’s impact is undeniable. New waste recycling and collection centres are poised to revolutionise townships and showcase the profitability and employment potential of recycling. With every success, the Trust learns, grows and expands its scope, forging partnerships that fuel its mission.
Through the VW BEE Trust’s unwavering commitment to entrepreneurship, job creation and inclusivity, the entrepreneurial landscape in South Africa is being transformed. Entrepreneurs like Akhona, Sally, Claire and Mondre are witnessing their dreams materialise, touching the lives of their employees and uplifting their communities. The VW BEE Trust’s vision of a prosperous South Africa is becoming a reality, one business at a time.
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Volkswagen Community Trust
Commitment to Education and Youth Development Contributes to Society’s Growth and Prosperity.
The VW Community Trust is making a significant impact on youth upliftment in South Africa through its comprehensive approach, spanning from early childhood development to functional literacy, teenage youth centres and high school and tertiary bursaries.
The trust recognizes the importance of investing in children at an early age, understanding that high-quality early childhood development sets the foundation for future success.
The Ikhwezi Lomso Early Childhood Development Centre, established in 2010 with funding from VW, serves as a crucial building block for children’s academic achievement and their ability to complete matric. The centre adopted the Montessori curriculum, providing children with a nurturing environment where they can develop independence and early literacy skills. Teachers undergo training to deliver this curriculum effectively, ensuring that the children receive the best education possible.
Parents, like Romencia Jacobs, praise the centre for its excellent education and the welcoming and comfortable environment it offers. The results are evident, with children excelling in language and mathematics which equips them to compete with students from any other school. This is particularly important in a country where a staggering 82% of ten-year-olds struggle to read and write meaningfully.
To address the literacy crisis, the VW Community Trust launched the Legacy Literacy initiative in 2017. Through literacy centres run by trained literacy ambassadors, unemployed youth from the township are given opportunities to develop skills in literacy education and teaching. Unathi Soko, a literacy ambassador, shares her experience of working with the program while also pursuing further studies. The initiative aims to ensure that every child in the community can read and write proficiently by the age of ten.
LoveLife, a long-standing partner of VW, plays a crucial role in youth development by providing safe spaces for young people in the community. The LoveLife Youth Centre offers various activities, including sports, drama, computer training and access to healthcare services. Groundbreakers, who are trained peer leaders, facilitate community mobilization and empower their peers to make positive life choices. These programs have had a profound impact on the lives of young individuals like Zandile and Sihle who credit LoveLife for enabling personal growth and opening doors to new opportunities.
The VW Community Trust also extends its support to high school and tertiary education through its bursary programs. The Children of VW bursary program covers the costs of education from grade eight to grade 12, while the tertiary bursary program supports students pursuing higher education. Through these initiatives, the trust aims to break the cycle of limited social mobility and inspire Volkswagen employees and shop floor workers by demonstrating that their children can achieve success at any level, including becoming future leaders.
One example is Claire Butler’s daughter, Chrizney, who received a bursary from VW to attend Woodridge, a prestigious boarding school. The trust covered all expenses, including accommodation, schooling and educational materials. Chrizney’s academic achievements, including six distinctions in matric, highlight the impact of VW’s support which extended to ensuring her place at Stellenbosch University where she is currently studying to be a chartered accountant.
Overall, the VW Community Trust’s commitment to education and youth development reflects its dedication to creating a better society. By collaborating with partners, suppliers and experts, VW is actively addressing significant challenges faced by South African communities. While acknowledging that there is still much work to be done, the trust takes pride in the progress achieved and remains determined to continue its meaningful contributions to society’s growth and prosperity.
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Youth development and women empowerment are key to sustainable success.
Thabo Batshe always knew that he wanted to be a writer. In 2021, he landed an internship at WesBank and learned so much during his 18-month stay. He was then absorbed into the company and became a permanent employee as a Communication Assistant.
Thabo has big goals for the future and wants to immerse himself in the organization. He loves learning and doing and with the many growth opportunities in the business, he plans to get on top of his game.
Ghana Msibi, WesBank CEO, believes that youth development is key to creating a sustainable organization. He knows this from experience as he started in the leadership program and, without it, the likelihood of being able to gain access to the business would have been challenging.
Ghana explains that what makes their company unique is that they don’t take themselves seriously, but they do take what they do seriously. People feel safe there and feel empowered to be the best they can be. They have been awarded Top Employer five years in a row and it is an accolade that they’re very proud of. So too of a new initiative, the Brotherhood Group, which is a platform for men to come and talk about serious issues without the fear of being judged and it is a significant example of the deliberate investment in all things culture and people.
Mzwandile Maziwe started the Brotherhood because he lost some close friends and colleagues due to suicide. He believes that many broken men need support and to be in the right state to serve customers and society optimally. Mzwandile shares that being at WesBank is like being in a family and culture that encourages people to grow and that with this belief and support, you can operate at your unstoppable best.
The Lotus Program is another flagship initiative and is specifically designed for women. The program helps to upskill previously disadvantaged women on their journey toward leadership.
Kutlwano Mogatusi is a communications specialist at WesBank who has benefitted from the Lotus Program and appreciates the way it has shifted the organization away from male domination, allowing women to take seats around the boardroom table. She believes that what sets WesBank apart from other employers is that employees are not just a number. They’re people with names and are valuable.
Corporate South Africa needs to be deliberate with its intentions to level the playing field and, as such, development initiatives like these are essential.
They are important as they bring a message to the girl child that anything is possible and while there is still a lot to be done in South Africa, committed corporate engagement, as demonstrated by WesBank, is crucial to facilitating the progress and transformation we need.
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