/ 10 April 2014

Expanding opportunities in youth advancement


The Transnet Group has a specialist division that implements the company’s socio-economic development projects to ensure that the best possible resources are dedicated to the group’s corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives.

This division, the Transnet Foundation, aims to build a healthy, safe and educated nation in line with the government’s national development agenda. Through the Transnet Foundation, it invests in a wide range of socio-economic development programmes targeting vulnerable groups, with a particular focus on youth advancement and economic participation.

One of the government’s key priorities is creating youth advancement opportunities, and in line with this, the Transnet Foundation has identified and created a number of programmes to get the youth involved in the company’s economic activities in the communities in which Transnet has a direct impact, and beyond.

The Phelophepa Health Care Trains

The world’s first primary healthcare hospital on wheels celebrates 20 years in 2014. In many of our rural communities, there is often only one doctor for every 5 000 people. With people’s feet as their only mode of transport, travelling to other healthcare facilities is a big challenge.

The purpose of the custom-built Phelophepa Health Care Trains is to bring primary healthcare services and education to these people. The first Phelophepa train began riding the rails in 1994. Phelophepa II began operating in March 2012. Together these trains travel for 38 weeks of the year, visiting different rural communities each week.

In 2008, Phelophepa received the United Nations Public Service Award for excellence in public service. The train not only provides healthcare to rural communities, which have limited or no access to these facilities and services, but it also utilises students in health disciplines to administer the services, overseen by qualified practitioners, providing them with an extremely valuable learning experience. Phelophepa is operational, on average, for 38 weeks out of every year and visits most stations for one week.

A specific station will be visited by Phelophepa once every two years. Communities are prepared in advance for the train’s visit, and community members receive training to assist with security on site, as well as patient administration, and to aid healthcare workers with the provision of services. During the visit, the train also runs community educational programmes, leaving rural people with vital new skills and knowledge.

For communities with minimal access to healthcare services, this knowledge is potentially life saving, particularly for young children who benefit from their parent’s enhanced healthcare skills.

Empowering girls to walk with dignity

Women in South Africa have come a long way in making their voices heard and fighting for their rightful place in society. But in some communities, where poverty sees families living with the bare necessities, there are women who are battling to maintain their dignity and self-esteem. The Transnet Teenage Health Programme is turning this situation around.

Through awareness, education and mentoring about feminine health and hygiene, the programme is enabling teenage girls in South Africa’s poorest communities to embrace their femininity, lift their heads, and walk with dignity.

The programme is targeted at poor communities where families earn minimal or no income. In these communities, general hygiene, sanitation and proper self-care have moved to the bottom of the priority list and there are often no sanitary amenities or waste management systems.

On a financial level, parents, understandably, use the little money they have to buy food instead of toiletries. However, the consequence is that teenage girls stay away from school and other activities when they menstruate because they don’t have access to proper sanitation and feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.

The programme involves various groups of people in the community, including the girls’ parents, teachers, school governing bodies and government officials. It mainly targets girls between the ages of 13 and 19. The girls attend interactive workshops on topics such as body changes during puberty, menstruation, teenage pregnancy and self-esteem.

They are given a goodie bag containing various sanitary products, and then, in follow-up sessions, are taught indigenous knowledge about affordable alternatives to store-bought products. In this way, the Transnet Foundation is empowering young women and ensuring that they receive the necessary education to participate in the economy when they leave school.

Expanding economic participation

The Transnet Group has initiated a programme to launch a series of enterprise development hubs around the country. The first Transnet Enterprise Development Hub was launched in August 2013, in Johannesburg, and is based at Transnet’s head office in the Carlton Centre.

The programme is part of Transnet’s drive to expand opportunities for smaller enterprises and new entrants, especially black-owned entities, and is a partnership with the South African Revenue Service, Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, the BEE Verification Agency, the National Youth Development Agency, the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the department of trade and industry’s Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.

The hub is a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and will primarily target potential suppliers to Transnet, as well as budding entrepreneurs, who will receive advice on a broad range of opportunities, including on how to tender for Transnet business.

Services on offer include business development, business registration, procurement advisory services, tax registration and compliance, financial support and guidance on black economic empowerment requirements.

Transnet staff volunteerism

On Mandela Day, July 18 2013, as part of the Transnet Foundation’s staff volunteerism programme, hundreds of Transnet employees boarded an overnight train from Johannesburg to descend on the small Northern Cape town of De Aar to convert and refurbish some unused Transnet real estate into another youth development hub, incorporating further services and facilities as well.

This youth precinct will consist of a shelter for 20 homeless boys, a youth educational centre and a youth recreational park. The enterprise hub will also provide training for boys older than 18 to start their own small enterprises and to work on Transnet properties, and for youth volunteers who will embark on monthly volunteer activities that will impact positively on De Aar.

This important project is just one of those supported by Transnet’s innovative employee volunteerism programme, through which it deploys the power and passion of more than 60 000 employees to share their skills, knowledge and expertise to help improve communities around the country.

The programme matches the broad wealth of skills and knowledge in Transnet with a range of developmental needs of receiving communities.

The objectives of the Transnet Foundation

The aims of Transnet’s CSI arm are aligned with Transnet’s market demand strategy, which is to:

• Deliver sustainable development 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 CSI trends and have a business fit with Transnet’s strategic objectives

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

This article has been paid for by Transnet.