For 102 years, Sanlam has been deeply committed to the human side of business. In the last decade alone, the Group invested around R630 million in the financial resilience of Africans across the 33 countries in which it operates. Right now, the world is going through a time of profound turmoil, but also possibility: Sanlam believes it has the opportunity to build a better, kinder, more equal society. Nozizwe Vundla, Head of the Sanlam Foundation, explains.
Q How is COVID-19 shifting socio-economic development in South Africa?
A Because of social distancing, there is an increase in the use of technology and digital learning platforms – especially in the education-type programmes that we support. Ensuring that we can assist NGOs that need to digitise their content and harness technology is a priority.
The second change is a shift in the advocacy of issues that our communities think is important. As a corporate, we also need to make sure that we develop our advocacy skills regarding socio-economic issues. Corporates need to play a more vocal role in supporting systemic change and measurable impact
Q Do you think COVID-19 will change education in a lasting and impactful way?
A COVID-19 has forced teaching and learning methods to change. It has compelled a radical rethink of the way knowledge is transferred. But it has also brought to the fore the disparities in our education system – especially between rural and urban schools. Our continued focus on literacy, maths and science in underserved communities is critical if we are to improve educational outcomes.
The Sanlam Foundation will be required to rethink social investment in schools post-COVID-19 – our Blue Ladder Schools programme will need to adapt. We will have to adjust our funding strategy to ensure we continue to support learners to achieve better outcomes.
Q Can you share some of the stories of the faces behind the businesses that have benefited from the Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme?
A I love the story of WasteWant, a business based on giving back. This recycling and waste management business was founded by Lydia Anderson-Jardine and Anthony Jardine. They employ people from night shelters to foster employment in local communities. They’re also involved in encouraging recycling in schools to educate young people about managing waste responsibly. Through learnings from Sanlam’s ESD programme, WasteWant has been able to hire 14 additional people. This is just one of the stories of the people who benefit from the work we do. That’s what keeps us motivated. It’s our guiding light.
Q Why have businesses like Sanlam evolved to be such key players in fostering positive social change?
A Corporates are realising that the triple bottom line is here to stay, and that future growth depends on social impact. Consumers are demanding that the companies they invest in or buy from prove their social impact. For more than 100 years, Sanlam has believed that it has a far greater role to play in society. We do it for good.
Q How do you see the role of business in this capacity evolving in the future?
A As the Sanlam Foundation, we would hope that corporates would incorporate ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria into their core business. We all need to do our bit. By working together, we can move mountains.
Some of the ways Sanlam uplifts communities
• Every year, 450 000 children benefit from Sanlam’s numeracy, literacy, reading and leadership projects.
• To date, 2 000 teachers have been upskilled via Sanlam’s Blue Ladder Schools.
• The average improvement in numeracy levels in Blue Ladder Schools is 7-10% per learner.
• Sanlam has invested close to R65 million in consumer financial education (CFE).
• Since 2015, over 50 000 beneficiaries have been reached through sponsored CFE programmes.
• In the past seven years, the Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development programme has:
- created 356 new jobs,
- sustained 2 130 existing jobs and
- generated an average revenue growth of 24% for participating businesses.