Special Reports

Making a sustainable difference

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Foundation invests over R160-million a year in areas where early investment can deliver long-term socioeconomic growth

Transnet believes in making the most of its considerable corporate social investment (CSI) spend, so the state-owned company's focus for community and social development is health, education and initiatives to empower the youth, with the goal of developing a sustainable and productive nation.

These are areas where the most impact will be felt, says Transnet, and where an investment made now will lead to growth in the future. Through the Transnet Foundation, Transnet invests heavily in initiatives aimed at delivering better health, education and empowerment for the communities. Many of these initiatives focus on under-served areas.

Cynthia Mgijima, head of the Transnet Foundation, said Transnet wholeheartedly supports the aims of the global millennium development goals, which seek to address issues such as extreme poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, education and gender equality.

"Transnet is part of this vision," said Mgijima.

Transnet invests R140-million a year directly through the foundation — and a further R20-million through other divisions — on CSI initiatives. These initiatives cover a broad spectrum of portfolios, but all aim to achieve sustainable growth and development.

Mgijima said that addressing the vast needs in South Africa remains a daunting task. Making the greatest possible impact means investing CSI spend in projects that will empower individuals to empower their own communities. "Transnet and the Foundation believe that by investing in our people we will create the foundation for economic success and sustainability in South Africa as a whole," Mgijima said.

"Caregiving as a once-off act of kindness unfortunately doesn't go very far. Reaching out is something that needs to be ongoing for its impact to be truly felt. This is the thought upon which our social investment vehicle, the Transnet Foundation, was built."

"When I think of the Transnet Foundation, three things immediately come to mind: caring, improving lives and making a difference," said Mgijima.

On the focus on youth empowerment, she said: "The youth are fundamental for our country's successful future. Without them we have nothing. Transnet Foundation wants to be a part of assisting the leaders of tomorrow reach their dreams."

The Transnet Foundation has six portfolios: education, health, employee volunteerism, container assistance, special projects and sport. The rationale for these focus areas is that they contribute to a healthier, well-educated population empowered to live fulfilled lives, which, in turn, can contribute to South Africa's economic success.

Healthcare is a key priority for the Foundation, accounting for over 58% of its budget for the 2012/13 financial year. Its famous Phelophepa Healthcare Trains, also known as the "trains of hope", are two fully functional mobile hospitals that provide primary healthcare to people in rural communities.

Run in partnership with Roche and large teams of medical volunteers, the trains travel over 20 000km each year, delivering top-quality health care, medical services and medication at affordable prices. The trains treat an average of 1 500 patients a week. Over 20-million people have benefited from these services.

Empowering young sportsmen

In line with its goal to empower the youth and improve health, the Transnet Foundation's sports development programme covers six regions and has benefited over 412 000 learners, while training and accrediting over 400 teachers as coaches, umpires and referees.

The Transnet national rural and farm schools sport tournament enables over 1 000 learners from rural schools to compete in local competitions and regional tournaments, culminating in a national tournament.

The Foundation also supports the SAFA Transnet Football School of Excellence, which runs programmes that improve football skills while enhancing participants' educational, social and life skills. Its sport incubator programme focuses on identifying and developing the talent of young sports people in rural areas, to improve their future prospects.

Building an educated nation

Believing that a good education forms the foundation of a great nation, the Foundation invests heavily in several education initiatives.

Among others, it funds a development programme for grade 10 to 12 maths, science and English teachers, supports school infrastructure development, after-care learner support services and an interaction programme which helps to develop the bonds between learners and their parents.

Building communities

Proving that Transnet's CSI culture extends beyond handouts, the company's employees have a well-supported employee volunteer programme (EVP), in which employees volunteer their own time and effort to empower communities. This programme is driven entirely by Transnet employees, who share their skills, knowledge and expertise with others.

The programme has included food garden initiatives, community improvement programmes and skills transfer projects aimed at the youth, among others.

The Transnet Foundation also runs a container assistance programme (CAP), which transforms old freight containers into custom-made secure buildings to meet the needs of under-resourced communities. CAP has already benefited more than 120 000 people, with the construction of over 30 structures.

In addition, the Foundation has partnered with the South African Police Service to erect satellite police stations in areas critically impacted by crime, or where security services are lacking. The programme has also delivered facilities for health clinics and social services access points. Over R27-million has been invested in this programme since 2001, with the building of 19 satellite police stations and 14 multi-purpose centres.

Investing in the future

The Foundation's objectives are aligned with Transnet's market demand strategy which is to:

• deliver sustainable developmental projects through the efficient use of resources;

• ensure that the Foundation's CSI projects contribute towards the social and economic upliftment of vulnerable people and communities;

• enable Transnet's sustainability reporting through CSI programmes that adhere to the CSI trends and have a business fit with Transnet's strategic objectives; and

• ensure CSI activities are consistent with sound corporate governance and Transnet's commitment to remain a responsible corporate citizen.

Facts and figures

• In 2008 the Transnet Foundation pledged R1-million for three consecutive years to the Making a Difference Trust driven by Carte Blanche.

• Container Assistance Programme Since 2001 about R27-million has been invested in this programme, about 120 000 people's lives have been improved and 27 000 jobs have been created.

• Rural and Farm Schools Sport Programme This programme received national recognition when it won the Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future Award in 2008.

• Phelophepa Health Trains The trains have supplied primary healthcare to over 20-million people since 1994. The initiative won the prestigious United Nations Public Service Award for excellence in public service delivery in 2008.

• Sharp Minds! Get Ahead in Life In 2010, 92% of the 367 grade 12 learners who participated in the programme passed their national exam with 184 distinctions.

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