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Corporate Social Investment – Can Companies Do Well by Doing Good?

Metrosmag,SA

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South African businesses invested R8.1billion in corporate social investment (CSI) during the 2014/15 financial year, an important financial quantum on the triple bottom line that continues to grow.  Typically, SA’s largest JSE firms approach CSI as well-engineered, strategic and sustainable initiatives that tie back strongly to the business objectives, BBBEE and community stakeholder relationships.

“But for a huge mid-section of firms, CSI is often knee-jerk, unsustainable, non-aligned to the strategic imperatives of the business and the important touch points of the local communities, customers and employees.  As a result, the real grass roots impact of such CSI projects are lost and unrealised, despite significant investments of money, time and resources,” says Michelle Govender, Director: Strategic Marketing at B-Cause, SA’s only dedicated consultancy focused on cause-related marketing.

Whilst the aim of commercial marketing is financial and the aim of social marketing is ‘social good’, the two are not mutually exclusive. The reality is that if correctly deployed and entrenched throughout the business, CSI provides an opportunity for improved profitability, growth, employee engagement, consumer loyalty and competitive advantage.

“The pressure is on all businesses – and especially given South Africa’s massive social challenges and economic disparities – for well-managed CSI strategies that deliver social currency, uplift and empower beneficiaries on a sustainable basis, and support business objectives by enhancing relationships with key stakeholders and customers.  There is an opportunity to do good that has real impact and effect, and at the same time, provides the business with a distinct competitive advantage in a parity market,” explains Michelle.

Is CSI investment realising tangible, grass roots results?

According to the CSI Handbook 18th Edition (Published by Trialogue) total CSI in South Africa in 2014/15 was R8.1 billion.  This only measures the CSI spend of Enterprise organisations, but when you factor in tier two and three companies, it’s likely that this figure is well over R10billion. And yet it’s very hard to track the impact that this investment is having and the kudos the companies are receiving for the hard-earned money they are spending. So where is the cause and effect?  This massive disconnect means that those still in need and brands are missing out on the opportunity to “do well by doing good”.

“In many companies, we see initiatives that are dispersed throughout the company with no over-arching, sustainable plan for ongoing engagement.  Each year, we see hastily coordinated staff field trips on Mandela Day or a ‘global day of service’ to paint, garden or spend time with CSI beneficiaries, only to pack up again and head back to the office until the next year.  What real impact, if any, is this having for the firm, the beneficiaries, communities and employees? Surely, collectively if we all do our part, we should achieve more than simply painting a wall or building a fence once-off?” says Michelle.

In embarking on a sustainable CSI strategy, B-Cause helps companies to identify NPOs that align with the strategic imperatives and nature of the business, and ensure that there is a good fit for the cause and beneficiaries that would be best served by the partnership. “We focus on creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships between corporates and NGOs, relationships that will last and become deeply ingrained in the mind of the organisation, the employees as well as the public,” she adds.

Strategic Philanthropy is more important than ever for employees and customers

The CSI strategy needs to be an entrenched part of the business, headed by a senior management person who can ensure that it receives corporate oversight, a role that is typically headed by the head of Human Resources or Operations.  Strong leadership and support for CSI initiatives at c-suite level is crucial, not only from a commitment perspective, but from a budget allocation too.  Top-level support is fundamental to reinforce the intrinsic value of CSI programs for the business, and to ensure that both short term and long term goals are achieved in achieving a partnership where true transformation can occur for South Africa’s most disadvantaged citizens.

Within the South African context, B-BBEE ties in strongly with corporate social investment.  CSI initiatives that assist Black beneficiaries can favourably affect your BEE Scorecard. CSI spend is regulated at a target of 1% of net profit after tax as part of the revised Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes (BBBEE).  It is important to note that CSI and SED (Socio-economic development) are 2 different elements of the scorecard. Socio-economic development is more than just assisting the disadvantaged with a meal or a warm bed. It refers to access to the economy. CSR departments need to bear this in mind when developing programmes with their scorecard in mind.

Companies can continue to earn points through charitable giving as before, but there is additional emphasis on developing skills, preferential procurement, enterprise development and socio-economic development.  In fact, research by Trialogue shows that the growth in CSI development is linked to three main reasons – moral imperative, reputation and the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) codes.

“It’s also an important factor in employee engagement and positioning the company as an employer of choice.  According to a 2015 Cone communications study, millennials are more engaged with social causes than their older counterparts and they will easily hop online to condemn a brand that they felt was behaving socially irresponsibly.   Millennials are also more likely to work for a company based on its corporate social responsibility commitments, and will even be willing to take a drop in salary in order to work for a socially responsible company that they admire when deciding where to work.  Millennials are also the generation that easily migrate to social media in order for their voices to be heard,” says Michelle.

“Consumers are equally demanding more accountability from brands for their social impact.  Consumers increasingly expect brands to integrate sustainable and responsible practices into all that they do. For example, many companies are starting to make procurement decisions around socially responsible behaviour and corporate values.  Strategic social responsibility and cause-related marketing are very effective marketing tools that help to grow your social impact as well as your business. Brands are embracing CSI as a business-imperative strategy, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s also the profitable thing to do. When done right, with integrity and commitment to actually making a difference, brands tend to receive a greater share of the consumers wallet,” she adds.

With the growing trend in cause-related marketing, companies will do well to bridge the gap between growing their reputations by aligning and committing to the charities that would make a good fit. By positioning the right products and services with the right cause and designing, developing and deploying strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) and cause related marketing (CRM) efforts, B-Cause helps achieve the brand’s reputation growth and broaden the positive social impact.

“CSI is here to stay and when one considers the social and economic landscape South Africa currently finds itself in, the need for cohesive, integrated CSI strategies from SA’s corporate sector has never been more crucial.  By strategically managing what is essentially a philanthropic venture, every business can maximize its purpose and benefits to society, create real, grass roots societal value where it is needed most, and fulfil on all its stakeholder mandates,” concludes Michelle.

About B-Cause

Michelle Govender is the Director of Strategic Marketing at B-Cause, the only specialist agency in South Africa that focuses specifically on cause related marketing, social responsibility and sustainability issues. The company was established in 2015 in response to growing international expectations for brands to become increasingly socially responsible.

B-Cause is a division of the Gallimaufry Group which operates at the confluence of cause, commerce and community and collectively shares over 20 years of experience providing consulting, brand-marketing and digital services to both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors.  The agency supports forward-thinking brands that are helping to move the world towards a more sustainable future.

Metrosmag,sa ( inspired by Mzansi Lifestyle ) Mzansi is rich in Lifestyle, a nation diverse in race and culture. Mzansi Magazine explores the rich heritage , versitile culture and the celebrations of Life in Mzansi. Metros Magazine, SA is South Africa's informative Metropolitan lifestlye magazine with all the fresh and important news in Mzansi.

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Veolia signs landmark B-BBEE deal with Ceracue

Metrosmag,SA

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“Veolia was looking for a local development partner with strong project experience in the water treatment markets,” explains Gunter Rencken, Managing Director, Veolia Water Technologies South Africa. “In Ceracure, with whom we’ve had a less formalised working partnership for about four years, Veolia has a hands-on, active B-BBEE partner with a thorough understanding of our core business and the water treatment market.”

This close alignment in corporate vision lays the basis for a synergistic approach to increased business development in both South Africa and Africa. “With this partnership in place, Veolia can confidently amplify business development avenues and enhance our project reach in the municipal and industrial markets,” Rencken continues.

“In addition to demonstrating Veolia’s seriousness to transformation and social development, it also means we’ll be able to supply water treatment solutions encompassing a broader scope of works,” explains Langa Nxumalo, Managing Director, Ceracure. “Together, we can advance our technical and business capabilities, offering a superior and integrated solution for water treatment projects. This ‘one plus one is equal to three’ strategy will allow better project execution in line with clients requirements, all thanks to a good balance sheet and technical experience by Veolia.”

The partnership will also see Veolia South Africa taking an active approach to expanding Ceracure’s business capabilities. “We are assisting Ceracure with achieving a higher CIDB grading, and have planned for a structured transfer of technology and skills of Veolia’s water treatment expertise to Ceracure,” Rencken explains.

Veolia’s shareholding arrangement with Ceracure represents an important pillar of the company’s new vision that is enhancing the water solutions specialist’s delivery of highly efficient, low-footprint water treatment technologies in South Africa and Africa. Alongside the B-BBEE deal are a range of recent organisational and technological innovations that have streamlined the company’s manufacturing, distribution and service networks across the region. Veolia South Africa is now positioned as a key technology and manufacturing hub for Veolia’s new range of standard engineered products and systems as well the company’s range of Hydrex™ speciality chemicals.

“We are excited to welcome Ceracure on board, and look forward to a fruitful synergy with them as we continue to tackle Africa’s water treatment challenges,” Rencken concludes.

Veolia group is the global leader in optimized resource management. With over 163 000 employees worldwide, the Group designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions that contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them.In 2016, the Veolia group supplied 100 million people with drinking water and 61 million people with wastewater service, produced 54 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 31 million metric tons of waste into new materials and energy. Veolia Environnement (listed on Paris Euronext: VIE) recorded consolidated revenue of €24.39 billion in 2016.

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Arduino Education Kit for young students aids technology learning

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Johannesburg, South Africa – RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the global distributor for engineers, has announced the availability of the Arduino CTC 101 Education Kit, which is a complete e-learning platform enabling young students to learn the fundamentals of electronics, programming and mechatronics. The CTC 101 kit has been designed for teachers and other instructors working in education and is specially tailored for the 13 to 17 age group at secondary schools. Each kit includes enough electronic components for a class of 24 students and a teacher.

Today, Arduino is one of the most popular open-source electronics platforms. Initiated in 2005, the Arduino project targeted the development of low-cost and easy-to-use hardware and software that could be used by non-engineers or simply anyone new to electronics that was interested in creating digital electronic projects.

Building upon this foundation, the Arduino Education programme was set up to empower educators with the necessary hardware and software tools to create a more hands-on and innovative learning experience. As a major element of the initiative, the CTC, or Creative Technologies in the Classroom, is Arduino’s one-of-a-kind STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programme for upper secondary education.

The CTC enables the introduction of students to the fundamentals of programming, electronics and mechatronics through a series of well-documented projects and easy-to-assemble experiments. Training for the programme is available online and through a combination of recorded lectures, support materials and Q&A forums, via Arduino.

Specifically, the CTC 101 kit supports programming and mechatronics with five themed modules and offers more than 25 hands-on experiments. All the parts in the kit are completely reusable, thereby enabling experiments to be reconfigured in endless combinations and further developed for more advanced students and projects.

Each CTC 101 kit includes enough electronic components for a class of 24 students and a teacher. It includes: six Genuino 101 programmable microcontroller boards; six Arduino Education Shields; a set of sensors and actuators; component modules; breadboards; a wide selection of electronic components, connectors and wires; plus other elements such as servo motors, USB cable, wheels and bearings, batteries and power modules.

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Vodacom Group appoints Jabu Moleketi as Chairman & Saki Macozoma to Board

Metrosmag,SA

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On Thursday, Vodacom Group announced the appointment of Jabu Moleketi (60) as Non-Executive Chairman and Saki Macozoma (60) as a lead Independent Director with effect from 19 July 2017. Jabu Moleketi will succeed Peter Moyo (54), who will have served as Chairman for eight years when he retires and steps down from the Vodacom Board on 18 July 2017. At the same time, Saki Macozoma will fill the role effectively vacated by Jabu Moleketi.

Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Group Chief Executive, says: “I would like to thank Peter for his leadership and dedicated service to the Vodacom Group over the last eight years. I wish him much success in his future endeavours. The appointment of Jabu and Saki is the outcome of an intensive search process coordinated by an external search firm and the Nomination Committee. I look forward to working with Jabu in his new role and welcome Saki to the Vodacom fold. Jabu has deep knowledge of the company and the industry whilst Saki brings with him in-depth financial services experience and corporate governance expertise.”

Jabu Moleketi joined the Vodacom Board in November 2009. Outside of his Vodacom tenure, he has extensive financial services and corporate finance expertise as a director on company boards with interests across multiple industries in the private sector including Remgro, MMI Holdings and Brait. Jabu Moleketi also served as South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Finance between 2004 and 2008. He will assume the role of Chairman of Vodacom’s Nomination Committee while stepping down from the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee.

Saki Macozoma is a prominent businessman in South Africa and is currently the Chairman of Safika Holdings, Tshipi e Ntle and Ntsimbintle Mining in addition to holding a directorship in Volkswagen South Africa. Saki Macozoma was formerly Chairman of Liberty Holdings, Chairman of Standard Bank and President of Business Leadership South Africa. In 2012 he was recognised for his work in civil society where the University of South Africa (Unisa) bestowed on him one of its highest honours – the Calabash Award – for his fight against oppression during the apartheid regime. He will be appointed to Vodacom’s Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee.

Incoming Vodacom Chairman, Jabu Moleketi, says: “I look forward to taking up the position as Chairman of the Vodacom Group at such an exciting time in the company’s journey. The business is poised to conclude its biggest acquisition in its history, the R35 billion Safaricom transaction, which will make Vodacom a serious financial services player on the continent. It is therefore fitting that Saki Macozoma joins our Board at this time, given the pivotal roles that he played at Liberty Holdings and its parent company Standard Bank. I am confident that we have the right strategy and leadership team in place to deliver on our vision of becoming a leading digital company, empowering a connected society.”

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