Over the past 21 years, South Africa has grappled with profound social imbalances and, during this period, social investors both within the nation and abroad, have increasingly engaged in impactful and purpose-driven initiatives.
What once seemed like a mere checkbox exercise has, over time, evolved into a critical business imperative for the C-suite. This transformative shift has been substantially propelled by the burgeoning significance of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns within the realm of corporate governance.
In a country that remains the most unequal society globally, social investors in South Africa occupy a distinct position. They possess the potential to address our most pressing challenges and harness their investments as powerful vehicles for realising the development targets set out in the National Development Plan 2030 — a vision that aspires to create a South Africa where every citizen enjoys equality and access to fundamental services, fostering meaningful lives for all.
Increasingly stringent regulatory demands, heightened shareholder and stakeholder consciousness, as well as mounting international advocacy, have compelled companies to acknowledge that environmental and social issues wield profound influence over various facets of their operations. Companies are no longer just superficially scrutinising the positive and negative repercussions of their activities but are, in fact, progressively measuring and reporting on these impacts.
In this year’s edition of CSI – The Human Face of Business, we shine a spotlight on projects in South Africa that centre around specific codes and delve into how companies are responding to diverse developmental frameworks. Many of these projects address the escalating necessity to make a positive difference, contribute to communities and environmental conservation and bolster local economic development activities. They also cater to industry-specific requisites, such as integrated development planning (IDP).
Our featured portfolios and case studies encompass a broad spectrum of themes, spanning social entrepreneurship development, agriculture and food security, education, environmental preservation, healthcare, job creation and skills development. It is increasingly evident that organisations cannot thrive at the expense of the natural environment or the well-being of the local communities where they operate. Hence, a robust social investment strategy now holds a more compelling business rationale than ever before.
We’d like to emphasise that Corporate Social Investment (CSI) is not merely a token acknowledgment of responsibility. Rather, it represents a strategic investment in a company’s stakeholders, ensuring the continuity of business operations while simultaneously creating a positive impact and contributing to the growth of both human and natural assets upon which its success hinges.
This publication is dedicated to exploring the transformative power of ESG, sustainability and sustainable impact in addressing South Africa’s societal challenges. We invite you to delve into the enriching content within these pages and contemplate the role of business in shaping a more equitable and sustainable future for our nation.
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