Simphiwe Mtetwa

Editor’s Letter

Hi there,

I am incredibly lucky to be doing the things that I do with the team that I have. I am especially privileged to help guide and direct some of the content we put together as a team for our growing CSI industry.

I was standing in my kitchen when the inspiration hit me to look at partnering with the Trevor Noah Foundation – and what has since happened has been nothing short of encouraging. The Trevor Noah team, through Shalane Yuen, the Hawaiian native who runs the Trevor Noah Foundation, is truly exceptional to work with.

Two days after Shalane had confirmed that Trevor will indeed be on the front cover, Trevor was hosting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. No pressure!!!

There is a saying: ‘If you want to see the success of a business, let it run without its owner, and if it stands, you have a great leader at the helm.’ I have learnt that their approach to social development is methodical and put together with meticulous reason. Trevor and his foundation have been kind enough to be the main feature of this issue, leading and driving the education agenda.

Through this issue, I can honestly say that South Africa is hard at work. From New York to Limpopo, we are all giving it our best shot to deliver impact that transforms lives, ensuring that our work drives sustainable change.

I am a direct product of a successful NGO story myself. My grandmother founded an NGO which remains a force in the rural community where I grew up (Kabokweni, Mpumalanga). In my younger days, I was forced to make tea for the many visitors that frequented my grandmother’s house, only to learn that these were the mothers, fathers and families that constantly needed help from the NGO my grandmother had founded. Amongst other things, it helped family members who had learnt that their mom, daughter, son or husband had just been diagnosed with HIV/Aids.

Fast-forward 20 years. Today I get to see first-hand the amazing work that CSI South Africa is doing. It is truly remarkable how much is being invested in social development through the various programmes dotted across our country, and how hard CSI South Africa and corporates, in particular, are working to reduce the debilitating lines of poverty, inequality, youth unemployment and overall unemployment in our country.

As you will see on page 26, Vodacom has not only invested over R20 million to address the youth unemployment pandemic, but is also actively providing access to youth through their Vodacom Youth Academy –

for the sole purpose of equipping unemployed youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with critical ICT skills.

As you navigate through these pages, on page 28 you will learn about Investec’s Promaths programme, which my friend and colleague has been championing for years, and how that blueprint is now being replicated in provinces across South Africa.

When I was in high school, I majored in the creative arts before going on to study interior design and architecture. In interior design we were often taught – and I am sure you would know this – the Sullivan phrase, ‘Form follows function’.

That means the purpose of the building should be the starting point of the design. In CSI, we are often doing things where form is at war with function. When we are faced with events – natural disasters, the looting of KZN, Covid-19 – which do not allow us to have a clear form-follows-function concept, we end up with a form-versus-function model instead.

On page 46, read how Standard Bank’s three-pillar CSI strategy addresses both socio-economic challenges and disaster relief at one time, in response to the KZN floods. Their approach could be the starting point for CSI South Africa, helping it to find its true north, and showing how form can follow function in an effective, workable model.

Putting together this issue has been a blessing, involving lots of discussions, meetings, even disagreements and fights; you name it and throw it in there. In the end, however, these things happen because we are passionate.

I am therefore hugely grateful to our team, which has allowed me the space to lead this amazing undertaking. We are indeed doing great work! I would like to close by mentioning my team one by one. To Ms Jane Mqamelo, thank you; to Liezl Russell, thank you; to Dylan, thank you; to Brenda van der Zee, thank you; to Morné Joubert, thank you; to Ms Mia, thank you.

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