Southern Africa Trust rebrands as it seeks to deepen its impact



The Southern Africa Trust (the Trust) has been in existence for the past 14 years; it opened its doors back in 2005. The Trust as an entity has been mandated to collaborate with civil society organisations, and its primary objective and intention is to alleviate poverty in communities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, which consists of 16 countries.

The Trust has been providing tangible solutions ever since its inception and has invested $24.6-million in various projects in agriculture, social development, trade, migration, climate resilience, social protection, workers’ rights and more. It has worked with both individuals and nongovernmental organisations throughout the continent and supports numerous communities that would have otherwise been overlooked.

In recent months, the Trust has repositioned itself as a facilitator of regional programmes and issues concerning policy influence and amendment, in response to strategic changes made by corporate organisations and foundations that believe that “doing good is good for business”. Corporates and foundations across the globe are making immense contributions towards empowering non-profit and civil society bodies to scale their impact.

“Each of us has a moral and social obligation to ensure that we build the society we want. In line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, Africa needs to solve Africa’s problems. It is now time for us as a continent to build the Africa we want. As an organisation built upon these principles and values, I am proud of the tangible difference we have made in the communities we have worked with,” says Masego Madzwamuse, chief executive of the Southern Africa Trust.

As a continuum to its impact, the Trust is launching an investment arm that will provide specialist services to organisations seeking to gain value from the Trust’s deep understanding and data of the SADC region’s civil society movements, social investment needs, sustainable development, grant making, and fund management. This is of particular value to mission-driven corporates thinking about strategic corporate social investment (CSI) structures and seeking to drive sustainable community investment and giving. It is a service that will be equally valuable to governments, development agencies and philanthropies searching for the most suitable solutions to alleviate poverty, inequality and unemployment in the SADC region.

“Like any other organisation, it was very important for us to evolve and keep up with the changes in the philanthropy and funding landscape, without losing who we are and our core values. We cannot afford to be stuck in the old way of doing things and remaining stagnant when the world is moving in a certain direction. Our rebranding exercise takes nothing away from us but adds more to who we are and how we can continue to contribute to the reduction of poverty and inequality in Southern Africa,” concludes Madzwamuse.

The Trust has redefined, repositioned and rebranded its impact to beneficiaries without losing its core value and purpose. It has prioritised the empowerment of women and youth in its programming and thematic focus areas. It has taken into consideration the marginalisation and vulnerabilities that these groups face, particularly in the light of recent occurrences whereby women have increasingly become victims of gender-based violence and discrimination.

Malter Vilikazi from the Swaziland Cross Border Traders Association

In addressing the challenges facing women, the Trust has invested in building women’s economic autonomy. One such initiative is working with women traders in southern Africa. The Trust is implementing programmes to ensure that women traders take advantage of economic empowerment initiatives for increased cross-border trade, provided by the following trade agreements: the SADC Free Trade Agreement, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Simplified Trade Regime and the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

To increase the cross-border trade activities undertaken by women, the Trust has collaborated with the Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association (SACBTA) and established a regional Women Cross Border Traders Forum. The forum’s mandate is to ensure that women are participating and accessing opportunities through cross-border trade in the above-mentioned trade initiatives in the southern Africa region.

Malter Vilakati from the Swaziland Cross Border Traders Association speaks very highly of the Southern Africa Trust and the significance of this forum and what it seeks to achieve. She says: “Women who trade across borders are often marginalised due to the sector being dominated by men.”

Patricia Chisi, a beneficiary from Malawi, says: “We learned about effective budgeting and investing. We are more confident about managing the process of buying stock and how to use our profits to alleviate poverty in our communities.”

The forum has added another critical skill to its programmes: financial planning and management to help women traders manage their finances as they generate income through cross-border trade. Part of the income of these breadwinners is used to support the financial needs of their households. Training in financial literacy helps them to find a balance between how much of their income can be used to provide for the financial needs of their homes and how much is needed to keep their businesses afloat.

The Women Cross Border Traders Forum comprises representatives of SACBTA from various countries in southern Africa including Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In contributing towards achieving the regional development agenda, the Southern Africa Trust will diversify its funding base in order to continue to work with its partners as well as build capacity in civil society organisations, and establish ecosystems for collaboration and policy advocacy to ensure an integrated southern Africa with policies and practices that help put an end to poverty and inequality.

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