- In 2008, Mergon launched the Muthobi Foundation – today known as Nation Builder.
- Aims to encourage like-minded corporates, privately owned companies, NPOs and civil society to embrace their broader citizenship and work towards more effective social upliftment.
- Created collaboration opportunities for members in three provinces invested in sharing knowledge and best-practice, brainstorming, learning and tackling social issues together.
- 150 companies have completed the online CSI Benchmarking self-assessment. Of these participants, 59% have a dedicated CSI role, while 60% want to take part in social investment knowledge-sharing forums.
Nation Builder is celebrating 10 years of building a community of business leaders who believe that business can lead social change in South Africa, and who are seeking to improve their social impact every year.
Keri-Leigh Paschal, Executive Director of Nation Builder explains: “South Africans have a deeply entrenched and steadfast desire to find solutions to poverty and inequality. We are excited when we see this desire within the Nation Builder community yielding fruit.”
“Nation Builder was born out of a committed belief in the future of South Africa. We have seen the powerful role business plays in bringing about positive change on a societal level. Having said that, one foundational learning that stood out over this decade was that in order to successfully build South Africa, the efforts of both the profit-making and non-profit parts of the private sector must be intertwined and complementary. In other words, we need to do business with purpose.”
Businesses and NPOs of every size and type have been markedly active as part of the Nation Builder community to share best-practice knowledge, jointly develop industry resources and collaboratively work together in achieving greater social impact. These include over 200 industry champions such as Absa, Deloitte, First Rand Group, Investec, King Price Insurance, KPMG, LeadSA and Santam.
“Nation Builder has celebrated many tangible successes,” says Paschal. “Our best-in-class CSI Benchmarking tool has been used by 150 companies since it was developed by a panel of top social investment specialists. The knowledge collected spilled into a series of publications called ‘Good Partner Guides’, developed by businesses for businesses, guiding businesses on their CSI journey with best-practice insights. These resources are available at no cost on the Nation Builder website.
“Since 2017, more than 30 Nation Builder collaborative roundtables (Collabs) facilitated valuable face-to-face opportunities for over 90 companies and a select group of NPOs in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town to freely share knowledge for the sake of a larger vision. In some cases, members even go on to work together on social projects,” says Paschal.
“The annual ‘In Good Company’ conference has become institutional among hundreds of influential social investment commentators and innovators to tap into the insights of the cream of the industry crop,” continues Paschal.
Taking learnings and ideas to relevant audiences continues to be the essence of Nation Builder’s ethos. In 2018, Nation Builder instituted two more opportunities for collaboration. The first being the Social Innovation Challenge, co-hosted with Stellenbosch-based LaunchLab, where 174 participants showcased original solutions to developmental challenges with the aim of forming partnerships to implement these fresh ideas or new product lines for the good of society.
The second collaboration platform introduced is in the form of eight nation-wide Business X-Change sessions – collaborative sessions for business leaders wanting to use their business to uplift society. At the Business X-Change sessions and the Corporate Collabs, privately owned businesses and corporates, whose combined social investment spend during 2018 exceeded R500 million, have an opportunity to relate some of the less-obvious challenges of developmental work, and how best to mitigate these in partnerships to effect meaningful results.
Setlogane Manchidi, CSI Head at Investec and part of the Nation Builder community, explains why business leaders need to engage in social impact discussions: “Purpose-driven business involvement in community outreach and empowerment programmes contributes to a sustainable, socially and economically sound environment within which business can thrive. So, it makes sense to devote some of its resources to social investment projects. Because by being good to society, business is actually being good to itself.”
In celebration of ten years of impact, Nation Builder published a Ten-Year Review intended as a report back to society on the initiative’s efforts to promote social cohesion in South Africa and the insights derived from practical experience within this collaborative space created.