/ 4 November 2011

Real help for real people

Business Award
Anglo American Chairman’s Fund

Established in the 1950s, the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund is the oldest professionally managed corporate social investment programme in South Africa. It gives substance to the motto of the mining giant: “Real mining. Real people. Real difference.”

Now, managed by Tshikululu Social Investments, the fund focuses on health, ­education, HIV/Aids and welfare. Through more than 200 partnerships with communities and government departments each year, it ploughs ­millions into the provision of ­non-governmental organisation grants, skills training, poverty alleviation, thought ­leadership, gender ­equality, help to those with disabilities and to children and the youth.

All of Anglo American’s South African business units contribute to the fund, totalling an ­investment of about R730-million between 1999 and 2010. “The fund is no slavish follower of fashion and is therefore not dictated to in terms of what kind of non-governmental organisation will find favour at a given time,” said Norman Mbazima, chairman of the fund. “Its policies of diversity of donation and support of [self-sustaining] initiatives have enabled it to serve as a catalyst for a wide range of ­innovative and far-reaching interventions in social upliftment.”

The fund is involved in a five-year literacy and numeracy ­project with the FirstRand Foundation and the department of­science and technology. Launched in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, the ­project aims to address the education crisis by focusing on teacher training and improvement of pupil performance. Other corporate social investment projects under way include a strategic partnership programme with the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa and funding for the Metro Evangelical Services, an outreach programme for the underprivileged in Johannesburg.

Anglo American encourages a hands-on approach to philanthropy. “Employees and management ­participate with the projects through employee-matched funding drives. Young managers get involved in corporate social investment projects as part of their management ­programme and [we] conduct site visits to the fund’s projects as well,” said Mbazima.

“The fund is committed to maintaining and improving its corporate social investment reach through a combination of experience and fresh ideas. “We continue to build on our reputation by retaining the key differentiators that set us apart, such as our developmental focus, our range in grant sizes, our support of organisational or core goals, careful engagement with beneficiary organisations and strong relationships with ­different government departments,” he said.

The judges commended the fund for its longevity and the substantial financial contribution it has dedicated to broad socioeconomic upliftment over the years. They also praised its activities for going way beyond mere compliance with business codes and for often being unlinked to the core business of the parent company.