Ever since the publication of the King Reports on Corporate Governance, South African businesses have sharpened their focus on their commitment to the ‘triple-bottom-line’.
The triple bottom line is a business concept that posits firms should commit to measuring their social and environmental impact—in addition to their financial performance—rather than solely focusing on generating profit, or the standard “bottom line.” It can be broken down into “three Ps”: profit, people, and the planet.
Despite its voluntary nature, the Johannesburg stock exchange (JSE) requires all listed companies to apply the King III principles, including providing independent CSR assurance. King III has accordingly made independent CSR assurance a de facto mandatory requirement, albeit on an “apply or explain” basis.
While Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR refers to an organisation’s total responsibility to the business environment in which it operates, CSI or Corporate Social Investment is a sub-component of CSR and aims to uplift communities in such a way that the quality of life is generally improved and safeguarded.
In South Africa, with its huge disparity in income and living conditions, it is important to focus on CSI initiatives that develop the potential of a community for better education, working opportunities, access to technology, entrepreneurship, health – both physical and mental, and self-sufficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this divide even further and it is important that we all do our part to ensure this gap does not become insurmountable.
When choosing a CSI initiative to support or to start, it’s important to ensure it is something that is meaningful to the stakeholders in your company. Who are the stakeholders? Well, that is everybody impacted by your organisation’s decisions, including customers, employees, and community members. The community could mean just the community surrounding your business or it could apply on a larger scale to encompass a particular sector of the South African population. It all depends on the budget you have to allocate to your Corporate Social Investment plan, as well as the relevance to your business. Focus on the best value you will receive on your spend, as well as the most meaningful and sustainable long-term effect of your initiative.
Ideas for CSI programmes include:
Further training and skills development
Skills development workshops that teach skills enabling self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship or improved employability prospects. These can range from something as simple as knitting classes to forklift driving to mechanic training.
Children, in particular, but adults too are going hungry all over the country. Consider a daily feeding scheme or even a weekly basic grocery basket scheme. Did you know that many children only receive one meal a day? And that is at school. With the current on again, off again situation in schools, hunger is a huge issue.
Clinics and primary health
There just are not enough health facilities available in South Africa. Attending the clinic can often mean walking/waiting for hours. Small basic clinics offering baby and child healthcare, contraception or dental care are welcomed and very necessary.
Community vegetable gardens or offering training in growing vegetables are useful options with long-term benefits.
Poultry farming or even small livestock farming is also worth considering.
Rainwater tanks or communal taps
Solar initiatives that can provide basic electricity
There are so many options for much needed counselling:
- LGBTQ+ counselling
- Youth guidance
- Career counselling
- Gender-based violence
- Depression and anxiety
Community development and infrastructure
1) Community centres, where public spaces are offered for:
- Community meetings
- Skills development
- Social gatherings
3) Media centres offering access to the internet and online learning facilities
Indoor sports, such as indoor cricket, netball and soccer
These are just a few ideas. Involve your staff in making decisions – a fun brainstorming session could lead to some innovative suggestions as well as ensure their commitment to the CSI plan you choose. Decide whether to focus on the community your business is surrounded by or to focus on a bigger picture – this decision will often be impacted by the amount you have set aside for CSI. Whenever possible, think long-term sustainability – what will make the highest long-term impact on the community?
Container Conversions offers structures that are ideal for many of these corporate social initiatives. Quick and easy to transport and erect, the converted containers can also be branded with your company logo and/or painted in your company colours.
Both converted containers and parkhomes can easily be used as:
- Training centres
- Classrooms and schools
- Community centres
- Kitchens and canteens
- Storage for community gardens
- Ablution blocks
In addition, Container Conversions can also supply fully furnished or kitted out units. Discuss your requirements and ideas with the team and they will come up with solutions perfectly suited to your requirements and available budget.