Corporate Social Investment – Changing Lives, Not Just Ticking BoxesRiaan du Plessis
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the obligation of each corporation to conduct itself in such a way that it improves what has been called the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). The TBL is focussed on business conduct which ensures social, economic, and environmental improvement and sustainability. A definition that has gained popularity was coined by McWilliams and Siegel, which sees CSR as “actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by the law.”
As far back as the 1930’s, the extent to which a corporation owed a responsibility to the broader society was raised in the famous Berle-Dodd debate. Since then, there has been an increasing emphasis on a business’s responsibility to improve the lives of the society in which it operates.
The South African government has recognised the need to empower and uplift our society at large, and in order to encourage CSR activity, the BEE Act of 2003 and the Codes of Good Practice may be issued by the Minister of Trade and Industry formalised CSR activities by introducing official Corporate Social Investment (CSI) guidelines in the Act. As BEE (and now BBBEE) compliance remains voluntary, the McWilliams and Siegel definition retains its legitimacy in our country’s context.
Corporate Social Investment as a component of CSR
Corporate Social Investment should therefore be considered an aspect of Corporate Social Responsibility.
CSI is the field in which the general philosophy of CSR is given concrete direction and becomes a workable programme that benefits the community in which business operations take place. The objectives of CSI should include building in long-term sustainability. This is to ensure that the community is not left bereft should the business cease operations at some point in the future, and that the environment is treated in such a way as to sustain itself and its natural inhabitants.
Umsizi cultivates projects that have a proven track record of effectiveness
Umsizi specializes in the design and implementation of projects that are demonstrably effective in alleviating poverty for the most vulnerable South Africans where our clients conduct their business. The programmes take a holistic approach, seeking sustainable socio-economic development that meet both the immediate needs of the community, and teaches the community members to be self-sufficient in the months and years to come.
Umsizi’s CSI initiatives provide true socio-economic development for the most vulnerable in society
We have been instrumental in many sustainable projects, and we continue to grow and expand on what is effective, and innovative to improve long-term positive impact. Many of the projects are carried out through Impophomo, a fully-fledged BEE-certified NPO founded by Umsizi in 2011. Umsizi directs its own CSI spend through Impophomo and ultimately to the benefit of those projects we are most passionate about, with an aim to empower and uplift the most vulnerable communities.
Here are just a few of the projects, to highlight CSI results:
Impophomo identified the need for sports programmes to be developed in impoverished communities. The benefit of this is varied and far-reaching: youth spend time on what they are passionate about and learn valuable life skills rather than being caught up in societal ills such as substance abuse, gangsterism and crime; coaches are equipped and empowered to assist young people with better moral choices and choices of life direction; and young people find they have hope and purpose rather than despair.
Impophomo has done extensive work into long-standing relationships with the Zandspruit Sports Development Forum and has achieved wonderful results including the establishment of a high-profile annual sports tournament, sports clinics, and partnerships with organisations such as SuperSport United.
We empower women through various effective strategies: Skills development and entrepreneurial development via food farming and production or other means of income generation; life coaching, career path planning and relationship skills delivered through the MyFuture programme; food, clothing and disaster support for those who are destitute or affected by shack fires; and ongoing ministry and support events within disadvantaged communities.
Early Childhood Development
We support and equip disadvantaged schools and pre-schools with essential school supplies on an ongoing basis. We regularly partner with corporate donors to organise the handover of educational toys, stationery, tables and chairs, and to supply basic needs of teachers. In this way, we ensure that young scholars get the best opportunity to learn and flourish in life.
Food farming and production
Umsizi has been involved in programmes that have been teaching the most vulnerable to grow their own nutritious food for almost a decade now. The initial focus is to attain household-level food security, but the programme looks beyond this, to empower those households to generate income through sales of excess produce to local markets.
Education and skills development
Umsizi supports proudly South African programmes that enable youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to formulate plans to see their career dreams realised, via career education and coaching.
These programmes aim to uplift communities by teaching the basic skills required to run a successful business. These include administration and marketing, skills which enable participants to trade more effectively, and to better grasp diverse economic pursuits such as clothing manufacture, services and food production.
Food & Clothing and Disaster Support
Coupled with our long-term projects, we also direct CSI to immediate relief efforts. Over the course of the lockdown, we provided direct food aid to over 11 000 households affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Other projects include, amongst others, partnering with community centres, libraries and soup kitchen, arranging corporate investment events and annual Christmas gift projects.
CSI spend and the end of year: tax exemptions and certificates
With Christmas now approaching, it is easy to overlook the months that remain until the beginning of March 2022. As many corporates are ready for a well-deserved break from work, Umsizi is still hard at work with the projects we are supporting. We are able to continue assisting companies and businesses with their CSI portfolios, and can ensure that the money allocated for the upliftment of a community is used to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in whichever part of South Africa a corporation might be operating.
For the partners that are BBBEE compliant, Umsizi will make available all the necessary compliance certificates and applicable documentation for your compliance and tax purposes.
Umsizi is your go-to partner in effective CSI
Umsizi and our NPO Impophomo have a proven track record in broad-based sustainable social development. By allowing us to assist you in formulating an effective CSI strategy, you can be assured that your business is making a long-term effective difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.