Mapping South African Social Investors’ response to Covid-19

By Nikki Griffiths – COO, Tshikululu Social Investments

Covid-19 is an unprecedented global health crisis. In South Africa, the pandemic has resulted in an unparalleled response from all sectors to mitigate the social and economic impact of the pandemic. Since the day President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the national lockdown in March, social investors have played an integral part of the national response.

Profile of the social investors

At Tshikululu, we define social investors as all entities or individuals that invest capital, whether through grants or other distribution methods, with the intent of having a positive social impact.  The response of social investors has been encouraging and inspiring especially given the uncertainty that many social investors are facing themselves. The social investors which have provided funding include businesses, private foundations, and international development foundations. This structured funding is in addition to the largely unacknowledged community responses, where individuals and community-based organisations have responded directly to the needs of their communities.


In April, Tshikululu initiated a project to map the interventions of social investors throughout South Africa in response to the pandemic. To date, a total of over R3.3 billion has been tracked. Tshikululu has actively approached over 100 social investors requesting their investment data. While the map currently does not represent a complete picture of all the social investment that has taken place, the data that has been mapped has been supplied and verified by the funders, and the intention is to continue to capture the data to provide a more comprehensive overview.

This funding, however, is one dimension of the response by social investors. The work of development partners has fundamentally changed this year. Funders and development partners have had to change their models, focus and spending strategies overnight to deal with the pandemic. Traditional programmes of development have been disrupted and the response has had to focus on the most basic needs such as food for the most vulnerable in our society.


By the middle of September, we were able to map over R3.3 billion worth of pandemic related funding. The largest portion of the funding has been allocated to business rescue activities (R1.3 billion) and personal protective equipment (R1 billion). There is, however, a wide spread of funding that has addressed basic needs, such as food and water as well as psycho-social support, to assist people to deal with the impact of the pandemic.

The aim of all these interventions was to provide an immediate response to an emergency situation and to reach the most vulnerable. The ability and willingness of funders to participate and fund this emergency relief is a critical part of South Africa’s response to the pandemic.


Social investment has been allocated throughout South Africa, with the majority of funding categorised as national spend with country-wide contributions from the likes of the Solidarity Fund and the Oppenheimer funded SA Future Trust.

Gauteng has received the most funding from a provincial point of view, which reflects the traditional profile of funding. Gauteng is South Africa’s most populous province and the high spend can be seen in this context.  The profile of spend in the Northern Cape, North West and Limpopo is interesting. One reason for the significant funding in these provinces is the contributions from mining companies. In fact, the high spend in the Northern Cape and the North West is directly related to social investors from the mining sector into the communities in which they operate. Special mention must go to the Anglo American Foundation which invested significantly into their communities.

In conclusion

The data reflected and the research behind the map is a visual and analytical way to assess and understand the response to the crisis, a verified source of information that provides a view of what has been done. While it may not paint the full picture as yet, it provides a valuable insight into how the social investors of South Africa responded to a national call for solidarity and reached out to those most in need.

By mapping the social investment taking place in South Africa, this data will prove invaluable going forward in terms of decision making and fund disbursement as the response to the pandemic continues and disaster risk mitigation is planned in the future. South Africa has a responsive, vibrant and committed funding sector and the response to the pandemic has highlighted the work done by funders throughout society.

As the country begins to focus on recovering from the pandemic and tackling the entrenched inequality and poverty in South Africa, the role of social investors becomes even more important. Can the lessons of responsiveness and collaboration which we have learnt during this time change the way social investors fund and tackle the developmental challenges of our time? The response to the pandemic has provided a glimpse of what is possible when we work together with commitment and focus.

The pilot map is available to view at with initial input from social investors amounting to R3.3 billion.

Tshikululu hopes to get input from many more social investors in the coming months and invites all social investors/funders to participate.

If you would like to include your interventions or would like more details about the project, please email