There was excellent participation this year from a diverse range of entrants. In spite of the tough economic and trading conditions facing companies, continued Corporate Social Investment has had a profound impact on South Africa and the communities in which the investment happened – as can be seen from the excellent entries not only this year, but every year of these awards.

Whilst each entrant can be immensely proud of the work they have done, unfortunately there can only be one winner.

The judging criteria for this award are:

  • The range of social impact initiatives;
  • Highlighting the role of the private sector in addressing social challenges and improving the communities in which they operate;
  • Recognising those achieving social impact through partnership, investment, pro-bono work or employee-led initiatives;
  • Impact on society;
  • Staff engagement and development;
  • The community or social cause; and
  • Effective leadership and management involvement.

The judges took note of the improved quality of the entries received for this category over the past few years and we thank all entrants for taking the time to submit their entries and commend these companies for making a contribution to society. We hope sincerely that they will continue to do so in the future.

The judges were impressed by the initiatives undertaken by all the entrants and consider it befitting to mention some of the initiatives undertaken in this category.

The second runner up in this category is HOWDEN AFRICA HOLDINGS LIMITED.

Howden Africa has three centres of operation, namely Booysens (Head Office), Port Elizabeth and Middelburg. In Africa, Howden concentrates on the design, manufacture, supply and marketing of specialised air and gas solutions for a wide range of industries. Howden Africa employs 524 permanent employees across its operations in Africa.

Their focus areas have been:

  • Education;
  • Technical Skills Training;
  • Environment & Conservation; and

Their corporate social initiatives have been:

  • Introduction of mobile Mathematics & Science laboratories to lend support to learners from grades 8 – 12, rolled out in Hendrina, Vaal and Lephalale;
  • Providing learners with bursaries;
  • Employee drives – local feeding schemes, food drive, blanket drive and school-shoes drive;
  • Providing technical training skills in the engineering field in rural communities;
  • Teaching environmental awareness to learners and educators in disadvantaged communities;
  • Ad-hoc donations to charities;
  • Repeated Sponsorship of Port Elizabeth’s Mount Pleasant teacher development programme.
Best Corporate Social Responsibility Programme of the Year-2019

The first runner up is SCHNEIDER ELECTRICAL – FRENCH SOUTHERN AFRICAN SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC EDUCATION CENTRE (F’SASEC)

Schneider Electric is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation in homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries. With a global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in power management – medium voltage, low voltage and secure power, and in automation systems.

They provide integrated efficiency solutions combining energy, automation and software. In the global ecosystem, they collaborate with the largest partner, integrator and developer community on their open platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency.

They believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that their commitment to innovation, diversity and sustainability ensures that Life is On Everywhere, for everyone at every moment.

FRENCH SOUTHERN AFRICAN SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC EDUCATION CENTRE (F’SASEC)

The purpose of the F’SASEC network is to accelerate practical training for potential artisans in the field of energy and the company’s commitment to sustainability. In 2012 the first F’SASEC facility was started from scratch at the Vaal University of Technology as a Centre of Excellence. The Centre of Excellence successfully trained students and quickly demonstrated the impact of the practical training approach, as the programme’s approach was to spend 50% of the time on a theoretical basis, followed by 50% of time on practical training.

In 2016, the F’SASEC network expanded to beyond the Centre of Excellence to establish access to education in the field of energy across levels of education, and the University of Johannesburg, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the Sedibeng TVET College and the College of Cape Town signed agreements to enter into this network.

In 2019, an agreement was signed beyond the borders of South Africa with Don Bosco Mozambique, in support of two training centres in Mozambique. The Schneider Electric Foundation and Schneider Electric SA have invested more than R17m into the various F’SASEC partners.

This project has created access to education for the youth from disadvantaged communities, with a particular focus on women. Collaboration with various partners maximises the utility of equipment, delivering the highest standards of practical training. Through global visibility of the programme and global partnerships, the importance of cultural exchange was highlighted.

The Schneider Electric Teachers Missions Programme, supported by the Schneider Electric Foundation, gives an opportunity to F’SASEC students and lecturers to receive hands-on training from experts working in the industry. Focus has also been on entrepreneurship training. Which has brought about some successful entrepreneurs. In 2019 the company signed a statement of intent with the Department of Higher Education and Training to promote vocational training and the training of trainers in the country.

The winner in this category was unanimously agreed upon by the judging panel.

The project is named:

ISIBONISO – CREATING ACCESS TO EDUCATION AND ENERGY

Isiboniso Primary School is a community school situated in the semi-rural, undeveloped Orange Farm Community, 45km south of Johannesburg. Orange Farm is one of the largest informal settlements in South Africa, with a population of about one million people. The main challenges faced by this community are high levels of poverty, low levels of literacy and lack of basic services and unemployment.

In 2015, Isiboniso Primary School had approximately 150 learners, but did not have access to basic services such as water and electricity. This need aligned to the company’s strategy to provide access to education and energy for off-grid communities. The company donated two large, fully-furnished classroom containers with solar lighting products, joined by a roof structure that provides protection from extreme weather conditions.

In addition, a solar street was donated to assist with visibility and security on the school grounds at night, as well as to provide a well-lit area for children to play as and when required.  In order to improve income generation, a programme to set up a glass recycling swap shop at the school was introduced, two high-quality wooden structures were donated for this purpose. A partnership with VUT for recycling of the glass was implemented. Furthermore, additional solar lighting was installed, multiple bean bags were donated for naptime for the learners in early childhood development and a variety of toys and sporting equipment donated to promote physical activity.

Illegal electricity connections in the Orange Farm area were a large concern. The company undertook to educate the community and create awareness of the risks associated with the misuse of electricity, which could lead to fatality. In partnership with the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, a high-quality solar solution was installed at the school as an alternative to grid electricity. In conjunction with the UJ Process Energy & Environmental Technology Station (UJ PEETS), the small vegetable garden that was initiated at the school by VUT was uplifted into an efficient and sustainable food garden. UJ PEETS started with a two-week training programme where 42 participants from the community and school parents were trained.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the richly-deserving Winner of the 2019 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Programme of the Year is SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC.