Looking for winning women's projects

The Mail & Guardian and the Southern Africa Trust present the 2015 Investing in the Future & Drivers of Change awards.

In 2015, the M&G celebrates its 30th anniversary and plans to mark the occasion in several ways. This includes the introduction of a new Editor’s Choice Award for a South African social investment project that stands out as a shining example of best practice.

There is also a new category for the Women’s Empowerment Award, which celebrates projects that work to improve women’s daily lives and to guarantee the economic, social and political empowerment of women.

Every year, the Investing in the Future Awards receive hundreds of entries from projects around the country that are judged by an independent, respected panel of judges.

The awards are aimed at promoting much-needed investment in fields that include science, mathematics, engineering and technology (Stem) skills — last year there were a record number of entries in this category — youth development, job creation, anti-poverty and development work that improves the lives of our people.

The M&G Investing in the Future Awards were created 27 years ago to publicise the often unsung contributions to the future of South Africa and its citizens. They are designed to heighten public, government and business awareness about meaningful social investment.

Investing in the Future partnered with the Southern Africa Trust’s Drivers of Change award nine years ago.

Since its inception in 2006, the Drivers of Change award has recognised individuals or organisations from across the Southern African region for making a real impact on the lives of people living in poverty, through innovation in the development and implementation of effective public policies and strategies to overcome poverty.

Drivers of Change is awarded in four categories: business, civil society organisations, government, and individuals. The award profiles living examples of innovative practices, creative new approaches, inclusive attitudes, and effective processes. It seeks out the best initiatives that build social trust and make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people living in poverty.

Winners and finalists are fêted at a glittering gala awards evening in October that is a highlight of corporate South Africa’s calendar.

Categories in 2015

Investing In The Future Women Empowerment Award:

• In spite of robust pro-women legislation, many areas of South Africa still experience the continuation of an unequal, gender-insensitive social fabric that discriminates against women. This new award recognises corporate social investment (CSI) projects that work to improve women’s daily lives and to guarantee the economic, social and political empowerment of women.

Investing In The Future Youth Development Award:

• South Africa’s young people are the future of our national identity, and they need support and guidance. This award goes to programmes or projects that provide youth with life skills, leadership and extramural interventions that have a positive impact on their development.

Investing In The Future Job Creation & Enterprise Development Award:

• This category rewards companies and organisations with innovative, integrated programmes that stimulate job creation and/or enterprise development. Awarded to projects demonstrating that, through their job creation and enterprise development programmes, employment opportunities are created.

Investing In The Future Stem Skills Development Award:

• Projects and initiatives that demonstrate a company or organisation’s commitment to addressing the huge educational challenges in the fields of science, mathematics, engineering and technology (Stem).

Investing In The Future & Drivers Of Change Civil Society Award:

• Projects that best demonstrate how civil society can contribute to the wellbeing and development of society. Awarded to organisations that go beyond the conventional in uplifting destitute and vulnerable communities.

Investing In The Future & Drivers Of Change Business Award:

• Projects that best demonstrate how a company can contribute to the advancement of society. Awarded to innovative companies with core business strategies including corporate social responsibility programmes that can demonstrate the upliftment of society across all sectors, from education to arts, health and social development.

Drivers Of Change Government Award:

• Government or intergovernmental agencies, programmes, or initiatives that create new possibilities and develop new models for policy engagement in the national and regional policy spheres. Ministries, government departments, Parliament or parliamentary forums and intergovernmental organisations are included.

Drivers Of Change Individual Award:

• Individuals from any sector across business, civil society, or government who have played a significant role in developing new innovative and inclusive approaches to anti-poverty and development work which has resulted in improving the lives of people in the communities they serve.

Investing In The Future Award For Best Corporate Employee Community Involvement Programme:

• This category showcases examples of how companies are actively encouraging and supporting their employees to play an active role in the community as part of their broader commitment to community upliftment and development. The volunteer programmes should ideally be aligned to the corporate values and CSI interventions of the company.

Investing In The Future Health Award:

• This category recognises companies and organisations with innovative and integrated primary health care and wellness programmes. Awarded to initiatives aimed at enhancing and strengthening the country’s healthcare system.