Covid-19 came as a disruption to many businesses and plans, but for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSI) department at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), work never stopped. CSI staff continued to work in collaboration with like-minded organisations to deliver social interventions in various communities. ‘2020 has taught us that you should always anticipate unexpected events,’ says Tebogo Molefe, CSI Manager.
‘It was the end of the financial year when Covid-19 hit our shores and our plans for the year were almost finalised,’ she says, adding that they had to rapidly recalibrate plans almost overnight in view of the massive challenges facing the country.
‘We initially responded by donating to Gift of the Givers, assisting with the provision of much-needed PPEs and with the pre-screening of patients at selected public hospitals.’
At the beginning of the financial year in April, the IDC made another donation, this time to the Solidarity Fund. They also established their own Solidarity Fund, to which employees were encouraged to make contributions.
‘As time went by and the impact of Covid-19 began to show its devastating effects on the economy, with people losing jobs and hunger and poverty increasing, we had to revise our plans.’ They allocated funds to social relief projects to support vulnerable groups with food and other basic necessities.
‘Under normal circumstances we physically visit and inspect the causes that we fund, but due to the lockdown, we were unable to do this,’ Molefe explains. ‘Collaboration is key in the type of work we do. What we are learning during this pandemic is that a partnership approach is critical when doing development work, particularly in rural and underdeveloped areas. We need to work together, sharing resources and information, to ensure that we maximise impact and avoid duplication of work.’
The CSI department of IDC has always had a mandate to support causes that focus on education, skills development and entrepreneurship development. ‘Under education we support selected schools, mainly in rural areas through implementation of the Whole School Development (WSD) programme in partnership with Adopt-a-School Foundation and Wipro International.’ WSD uses a holistic model to solve challenges faced by poorly resourced schools. The aim is to create schools that produce quality education. The CSI also supports Technical Vocation Education and Training (TVET) Colleges. ‘TVET colleges are critical for producing a skilled workforce, desperately needed to grow the economy and create jobs,’ she concludes.
In addition, the IDC supports community projects that focus on entrepreneurship development and job creation. They work in partnership with NGOs and CBOs to implement projects that equip individuals with entrepreneurial skills or create better livelihoods for communities.
Some of the notable projects IDC supports and continued to support under lockdown are Koppies Greenhouse Primary Cooperative, based in Free State, and Food Forward SA, which has a national footprint.
‘Koppies Greenhouse Co-op plays a critical role in food security, enriching communities with nutritious and healthy food. Rand Water Foundation partnered with IDC to provide funding to the cooperative for the construction of their admin block. The cooperative has a high-tech greenhouse vegetable enterprise benefiting ten farmers with permanent employment and 15 young people with temporary jobs,’ says Molefe. ‘Koppies also came to the party by donating vegetables to community members during the pandemic.’
Food Forward is a massive organisation with branches all over the country providing both food and training to young people in aspects of warehouse management. The IDC provided funding for their Youth Internship Programme (YIP), affording 15 unemployed youth an opportunity to get on-the job training at their warehouses.
‘Such opportunities have become crucial to young people, especially during this Covid-19 period, with many people losing their jobs,’ says Molefe. Food Forward played a significant role during this difficult time, assisting government to get food to far-flung communities across the country.
IDC also provided funding to Kusile Mzantsi Community Development for the manufacturing of cloth masks. Kusile Mzantsi, based in Eastern Cape, was initially funded to procure sewing and embroidery machines to produce school uniform. The organisation is 100% owned by women and has created employment for 15 women and young people.
Lastly, IDC managed to reach about 5000 families across the country working in partnership with 14 organisations, providing food relief, masks and hygiene products. ‘Our target was obviously the most vulnerable groups, defined as children, abused women, the elderly, persons living with disabilities and foreign nationals,’ says Molefe.
‘The IDC is committed to carve out a bright future for our youth and to ensure that post-Covid-19 there will be work and entrepreneurial opportunities for the youth of South Africa.’