The latest quarterly labour force statistics make for some grim reading. The official unemployment rate is 35.3% while youth unemployment remains at 65.5%. Data like this emphasises how important it is for South Africa’s corporate citizenry to shift away from the traditional ‘profit first’ business philosophy toward one that harnesses their economic power and uses it in a more meaningful and sustainable way. It is for this reason that the Sanlam Foundation is proud to have benefitted more than 120 000 people across the country and continent through 26 different programmes over the past 10 years.
As highlighted in the most recent Sanlam Foundation annual report, by last year, the Foundation had invested upwards of R593 million since its inception in 2011, towards capacitating people to live with confidence. In 2021 the Foundation delivered these programmes together with 19 different partners to create 378 jobs, empower 16,000 low-income earners with financial education and training 390 educators. A further 70,000 school going children throughout the country also benefitted from the Foundation’s educational initiatives. These programmes benefitted more than 51 000 people in Gauteng, 21 000 in KwaZulu-Natal, 12 000 in the Western Cape, 10 000 in Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and the Free State and many more. Of those beneficiaries, 80% were between the ages of 18-35 and the vast majority were female.
Small businesses yield big results
Take Renika Rungan for example. Rungan is the CEO of Accident Panel and Paint Major Structural Repairers, an independent auto repairs company in Johannesburg, and one of the beneficiaries of the Sanlam Foundation’s Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) initiative that aims to sustainably develop small and medium businesses in their supply chain.
Rungan’s business was one of the 26 black-owned businesses that participated in the programme. Thirteen of these SMEs were owned by women and three were youth owned (18-35). As a result of participating in the initiative 13 SMEs were awarded procurement opportunities to the value of R20 422 245 and all the participating businesses reported an average increase in revenue of 36% despite the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nozizwe Vundla, head of the Sanlam Foundation says, “We have come to realise that if we harness our collective power to improve the financial circumstances of people across Africa, we can help the continent achieve meaningful change and sustained growth. With SMEs playing such a vital role in the fight against rising unemployment, being able to support and strengthen them is one of the many paths we can use to achieve those goals and help society live with confidence.”
Financial health is more than just wealth
According to the latest Debt Index the average South African spends around 62% of their take home pay on debt repayments. Data released late last year from a survey conducted by Sanlam found that 56% of South Africans had seen their savings decrease since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and 54% of respondents were not able to make their salaries last until the end of the month. Furthermore, the stress caused by finding oneself in a difficult financial position has an adverse effect on one’s mental health.
One of the best ways to help empower people and alleviate issues like over indebtedness is through programmes that improve financial literacy. Last year, the Sanlam Foundation, through partnerships with the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) Foundation, as well as Avocado Vision, funded two programmes aimed at improving knowledge and access to information on financial matters. This happened through facilitated training that focused on money management, savings, debt and credit and insurance.
Utilising an approach that blended in-person and virtual teaching methods, the Money Fo’Sho programme with Avocado Vision as the service provider, and the Wage Wise initiative, in partnership with ASISA were able to reach a total of 16 776 people. Of that number, 97% of them were black, 72% were female and 57% were between the ages of 18 and 35; while 45% of the participants were based in rural areas.
Through its partnership with the WWF, the Sanlam Foundation is helping fund projects aimed at controlling and clearing alien species, improving water security, encouraging the sustainable use of ground water and facilitating water source partnerships for water scarce areas. With 500 million Africans living in 19 of the most water-insecure countries on the continent, 483 million people lacking adequate sanitation and water related conflicts on the rise, these initiatives are going to play an ever-increasing role in building a sustainable future as we look to build a jobs ecosystem that will be able to deal with climate change.
Vundla concludes, “There are few places in the world with more potential than our continent and by capacitating Africans with financial knowledge and experience, we believe we are equipping people to be able to create a future for Africans by Africans. One that this is both inclusive and sustainable.”