“PPS is the only mutual financial services company in South Africa that focuses exclusively on graduate professionals,” explains Masenyane Molefe, Group HR Executive at PPS. “As such, our focus on STEM talks to both our core business and the members who make up our primary target market, as well as contributing to one of the country’s key national priorities.”
To achieve these goals, the Foundation focuses on several interlinked programmes that concentrate specifically on empowering school leavers to access quality tertiary education, that enhance their job-readiness and offer skills development opportunities.
The PPS Bursary Programme is the organisation’s flagship CSI initiative, which funds on average 60 students per academic year at various accredited South African universities and universities of technology. “Our students pursue various qualifications such as medicine, engineering, commerce and agriculture,” says Molefe. Unlike most bursary programmes however, PPS takes a holistic view of each student, becoming an intimate part of their journey towards qualifying for a four-year degree that is the hallmark of PPS membership, and allowing successful graduates the opportunity to begin their journey to success. “We ensure that our students receive assistance in whatever it is that they need. This may be financial assistance for fees, accommodation, food, transport or even pocket money, or it may be job readiness skills, or tools such as bridging programmes to assist their transition from secondary to tertiary education, and from tertiary education to the workplace,” adds Molefe.
PPS Foundation also offers a Graduate Internship Development Programme. With this programme, newly qualified graduates are placed in full-time positions across the PPS business for a period of 12 months. “It is a well-known fact that some form of work experience has a direct correlation with a higher probability of being permanently employed,” states Molefe. “We have seen this in action – since 2015, 88 interns have been placed across our business while others have been absorbed into other companies because of the hands-on, practical training received on our internship programme.”
Another programme that the PPS Foundation runs is the University Support Programme. Here, PPS partners with academic institutions to improve the teaching and learning experience by providing or remodelling facilities in order to alleviate any impediments to the learning experience. An example of this is a computer lab refurbishment at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth, which has resulted in a larger, remodelled and technologyenabled computer laboratory to encourage applied learning.
Finally, the LEAP workreadiness initiative quite literally aims to leapfrog its students to success. An acronym for Learned, Engaged, Accelerated Professionals, it involves skills training such as interviewing techniques, personal branding and life skills, to ensure that students become professionals in every facet of their education and personal development.
Adds Molefe: “Because our work focuses on the student community, we continuously engage with leadership from academic institutions to gain deeper insight on the social issues affecting students.
An issue that tops the list is the need to combat food insecurity. As a result, since 2018 we have partnered with Rise Against Hunger Africa to pack nutritious meals as part of our employee volunteering drive.” To date, more than 100,000 meal packs have been distributed to beneficiaries such as Stellenbosch University, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Venda, University of Limpopo and the University of Fort Hare.
“A large component of our CSI strategy is to encourage our employees, our PPS members and the general public to donate to the Foundation,” concludes Molefe. “To this end, as a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) we recently set up an online donation platform, allowing anyone to donate money and receive a taxdeductible Section 18A certificate in exchange. We believe that by investing in human potential we have the ability to produce South Africa’s next wave of economically empowered young professionals.”