Humility and educational empowerment should be the ‘new normal’ for corporates

Liberty knows that showing a commitment to society and humanity through corporate social investment is one way for corporates to continue supporting communities, especially during a pandemic. Businesses need to continue playing their critical role in helping people, and it’s time to adapt to our ‘new normal’.

We’re all in this together

As the world comes to terms with the crises, responding with humanity is what transforms a business into a truly trusted partner. Companies must be there for their clients and their communities, even if it means a cost to themselves. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that no one is immune to the harsh emotional and economic realities that have ensued.  The significance of the supportive role that corporate social investment (CSI), non-profit organisations and civil society play has never been more apparent. We’re all in this together, and we all have to stand up and play our part in keeping the most vulnerable among us afloat while we continue seeking new ways to uplift the youth, and drive hope in the face of uncertainty. Those organisations with the means and the platform can make a difference in mitigating the impact on the most vulnerable during the pandemic and sustaining the historic gains to society of such investment, beyond the pandemic.

Nomaxabiso Matjila

For Nomaxabiso Matjila, Liberty’s Lead Specialist for CSI, and Jeanne Fourie, Lead Specialist for Sustainability, times of crisis are when corporates are called on to demonstrate their humanity.  “This isn’t a passing movement. Corporates have to visibly, authentically and sustainably connect and respond to the realities experienced by the communities with in which they operate. They must show what they stand for and commit to their communities,” said Fourie.

Even before the pandemic, Liberty’s CSI strategy has always been about sustainable development – meeting the needs of the present generation in such a way that future generations are similarly enabled.

“We want to do our bit to empower our communities, transform South African business to better reflect the people within our society, reduce inequality and enable young people to learn how to create value for future generations,” said Matjila.

The key to success

The key to successfully achieving these noble goals is education, according to Matjila, which is why education and literacy programmes remain central pillars of Liberty’s CSI projects. “Liberty’s investment in the communities in which it operates has for many years proudly been focused on education,” said Matjila.

In the 2019 Report to Society, Liberty outlined its plans and progress in promoting quality education across South Africa, focusing on maths, science, English and financial literacy education projects, through various strategic partnerships and programmes, and through its employee volunteerism platform. Last year alone, the company invested more than R40.7m rand to benefit more than 91 000 students country -wide.

“Education allows us to give people the skills and tools they need to compete, to become better with their finances and to pass that learning onto their children. Liberty has always prided itself on helping people to reach their financial freedom through education,” said Matjila.

Liberty’s goal

Jeanne Fourie

“Liberty’s purpose is to improve people’s lives by making their financial freedom possible.  It’s been proven repeatedly that a major catalyst to being successfully included in the formal financial system is education. With education, they are able to play their part in the economic activity of the country, they are also able to better manage their personal finances, and can pass that learning on to their family, spouses, children and friends. We are a part of Africa, part of South Africa, and we want this country to be great, and one of the main challenges to that is children not having access to education,” said Fourie.

The ongoing partnership between Liberty and the Kutlwanong learning centres in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has for the past seven years continued to focus on providing learners with extra lessons in a variety of subjects, to ensure they succeed in passing those subjects.  As an NGO, Kutlwanong also provides teacher development and career path programmes and is currently reaching 63 schools between the two provinces with its classroom-styled programme. 

The TenFold app

For learners who are unable to attend such extra classes in person – even more so during the Covid-19 lockdown – TenFold Education App in partnership with Mindset NPC is for learners wanting to access online learning programmes.  TenFold has enjoyed growing subscription across the country since its launch last year.

For online lessons, learners respond more enthusiastically to lesson information that is packaged and distributed in digestible format.  To sustain their attention and also help them save mobile data, TenFold provides hundreds of hours of instructional video content, divided into targeted, bite-sized chunks, focusing on specific maths or science principles.

The investment in education extends across the spectrum of needs. The Liberty Community Trust (LCT) funds projects within the schooling system which address foundational phase literacy, projects to enhance learners’ areer development and to improve school leadership and governance.

“LCT’s relationship with Partners for Possibility aims to help enhance school administration.  This could be in the form of mentorship for principals in respect of school leadership or supporting an individual school to solve a specific problem it faces,” said Matjila.

Employee volunteers

Internal employee-volunteering initiatives are also a key priority, she explained, where Liberty’s own “CSI Champions” select personal projects to benefit their communities, launching collection drives for essentials such as school shoes and sanitary pads for the learners who struggle to access them.

As 2020 draws to a close, it has become clear that the pandemic has created challenges for corporates being able to continue with their usual projects. With schools having been shut down for an extended period of time, and the national lockdown resulting in closure of NGO facilities and general logistical difficulties, Matjila said her team had to think of creative ways to ensure their chosen social investment initiatives maintained their pace and impact. She is confident they can meet this challenge, even if it means redirecting efforts to help beneficiaries in responsive and innovative ways.

“While certain projects may be put on the backburner for now, we will, for example, help the Department of Basic Education with fast-tracking learners’ catch-up programmes. We want the learners of 2020 to pass, and if that means supporting the organisations that give them PPE (personal protective equipment), that’s where we’ll redirect our funds,” she said.

“We are still continuing our support, just in a different way. Our hope is that all corporates’ social investment projects can continue their level of support despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic and that our collective efforts make a difference in supporting and transforming our society through these times,” she concluded.

#DriveHope campaign

In 2020 Liberty launched the #DriveHope campaign. #DriveHope is over and above Liberty’s CSI initiatives, it is focused on performing random acts of kindness. At first, the #DriveHope Squad wanted to help people internally. Staff would nominate people from the office who needed help or ask that they nominate people in their communities who were suffering and had basic needs that just weren’t being met. By July 2020, 4677 people had been directly impacted, with an estimated 3111 others, from relatives of those people to community members, who indirectly benefited. #DriveHope was always about the person next door, the friend in need.

The #DriveHope Squad want to be able to provide help, to make a real tangible difference in the lives of others who need immediate help. People have truly been touched by these efforts, and recipients are also trying to pay-it-forward by nominating others. Whether it’s the gratitude and hopefulness of the nominees or the altruism of the people making the nominations, we at Liberty have seen the inherent goodness of South Africans, and we want to keep this going. To nominate someone in need of hope, keep an eye on Liberty’s social media channels for when nominations are open.

Call:  0860 456 789 / +27 11 558 4871 or e-mail: info@liberty.co.za

Liberty Group Ltd is a Licensed Insurer and an Authorised Financial Services Provider (FAIS no 2409).