Investing in a stronger tomorrow

The FirstRand Namibia Foundation in 2019/20 invested heavily in the lives of 99 486 communities through considered and long-term corporate social responsibility in excess of N$11.8 million across the country.

30 September 2020 | Business

To measure the impact of our corporate social investment efforts, we track a set key of impact goals with a target end date. - Clara Bohitile, Chairperson: FirstRand Namibia Foundation

In pursuit of the FirstRand Namibia Foundation’s strategy to be the foremost corporate social investor and knowledge collaborator committed to contributing to the development of a better Namibia, FirstRand Namibia ploughed more than N$55 million into the country in its past five financial years.

The Foundation is the legal vehicle through which FirstRand Namibia Limited and its customer-facing businesses (FNB, RMB, WesBank and Ashburton) direct their individual and collective corporate social responsibility (CSR). From inception, the FirstRand Foundation received 1% of FirstRand Namibia Limited’s net profit after tax (NPAT).

“We have already achieved several impact goals,” the chairperson of the FirstRand Namibia Foundation, Clara Bohitile, says in the latest Corporate Social Responsibility Report of FirstRand Namibia.

The Foundation during the 2019/20 financial year invested heavily in the lives of 99 486 communities through considered and long-term corporate social responsibility in excess of N$11.8 million across the country.

The Foundation identified six focus areas to guide its response: Education, vocational training, community and health development, environment, sports development, as well as arts and culture initiatives.

“To measure the impact of our corporate social investment efforts, we track a set key of impact goals with a target end date,” Bohitile says.

She elaborates: “These goals focus on improving communities, and are driven by purposefully designed actions that transform inputs into specific outputs including the volume and level of participation in activities undertaken.”

Education

Nearly N$2.74 million was invested in education and technology projects in the past financial year, reaching 15 390 beneficiaries.

The Foundation supported the following projects in 2019/20: The Amos Meerkat Pre-School Development Programme, Edulution, Edugate Private School’s Eduvision Programme, the KAYEC Trust, the Mondesa Youth Opportunities Trust, and the Bankers Association Stationery Drive Project.

The Amos Meerkat Pre-School Development Programme strives to ensure that every pre-school child in Namibia – especially from farming communities and information settlements – is given the opportunity to prepare for primary school.

From 2013 to 2019, 19 000 children between the ages of five and six years were prepared for Grade 1 while training of teachers has increased from 15 teachers in 2013 to 400 in 2019.

Edulution provides extra-curricular foundational numeracy ‘catch up’ programmes to primary school learners.

Using a mix of technology, enterprising coaches and evidence-based analytics, the Edulution programmes enable learners to revise and master essential foundation numeracy and ITC skills that better enable teachers to delivery curriculum objectives.

The Foundation supported the St Barnabas Primary School in 2019 and witnessed the school’s Grade 7 learners outperform their peers in that year’s national school examinations.

The Foundation also joined forces with the Edugate Private School in Otjiwarongo to eliminate the distinction between information rich schools and information poor schools.

Through Edugate’s Eduvision programme, the “progress in Tsumkwe Secondary School has been remarkable”, the Foundation says.

Its partnership with the KAYEC Trust in Rundu to maintain after-school services that help youth to stay in school and to develop skills needed for self-development, has paid off.

Zero school drop-outs and teenage pregnancies have been experienced since 2015 when the Foundation’s sponsorship was initiated.

FNB, through the FirstRand Foundation, handed over a donation of N$250 000 to the Mondesa Youth Opportunities Trust (MYO) in support of an intensive after-school education programme it runs in the Swakopmund township.

Vocational training

The Foundation realises that vocational education training (VET) has a great range of pre-employment and in-service learning opportunities and provides Namibian youth, who are not necessarily academics, with fantastic avenues to enhance their skills and develop their talent.

Together with government, who collects VET levies from companies for training of young Namibians, the Foundation wishes to explore this employment avenue.

In the past financial year, the Foundation backed the Anistemi College and Training Centre and the Okakarara Vocational Training Centre and their vision of developing vocational training centres and life skills services geared primarily towards youth who are capable, but disadvantaged.

The Okakarara Vocational Training Centre received a donation of an embroidery machine, two T-shirt head press machines, a vinyl cutter machine, three straight stitch sewing machines and two overlock sewing machines valued at N$92 000 from FNB through the Foundation.

“This is to support the advancing of vocational education in the region, and Namibia specifically, as vocational education continues to provide students with potential careers that would otherwise have been unfathomable,” according to the CSR Report.

Vocational education makes citizens self-sufficient and independent and motivates them every day to develop something new which in turn will benefit the country, the Foundation says.

In addition, the Foundation also supported the African Leadership Institute and CHANGE Namibia, a non-governmental organisation involved in uplifting Namibians.

The Foundation’s total support to the above initiatives amounted to about N$1.36 million and 1 754 young Namibians benefitted.

Environment

The Foundation supports initiatives that seek to bring about positive environmental change in the communities in which it operates, while at the same time creating awareness on climate change as well as the environment and its fragile ecosystems.

Supporting selected projects resulted in CSR spent of about N$1.53 million in 2019/20, benefitting 16 035 Namibians.

The Foundation was part of corporate Namibia which raised in excess of N$863 000 in drought relief.

It also sponsored the School Recycling Competition (SRC) by providing recycling bins.

“The results of the 2019/20 SRC indeed gave good reason for celebration with a total of 179 632 tons of waste collected by the participating schools compared to 132 tons last year.”

Other environmentally-geared initiatives supported were the Sikunga Conservancy Fish Protection Project, the Desert Lion Conservation Project, Africat Foundation and the SPCA Windhoek.

Arts, culture and sports

Arts and culture is an integral part of a society and the Foundation is proud of projects such as the National Arts Gallery of Namibia’s Arts Development Workshops, ChiNamibia’s Annual Arts and Culture Festival, the Ombetja Yehinga’s Fun2Dance Workshop, Youth Orchestra of Namibia’s School Development Project including its famous Song Night platform that supports upcoming Namibian vocalists through free mentorship.

In 2019/20, the Foundation invested nearly N$1.89 million in arts and culture, benefitting 1 328 Namibians.

The Foundation supports the mandate of the National Sports Commission and its development of grassroots sports development programmes.

In the past financial year, its contribution to sports totalled N$680 155 and 12 258 Namibians benefitted.

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