GIVEN TO CHANGE - JSE MAGAZINE

GIVEN TO CHANGE

As SA grows and develops, the JSE as a key part of the economic landscape will continually seek out those areas where it can help make a worthwhile difference

GIVEN TO CHANGE

‘At the JSE, our strength is in our role as a connector. We provide a marketplace that sees people come together for a variety of reasons and transactions. We are evolving our strategy regarding corporate social investment [CSI] within the broader context of how we view sustainability, and our role as a corporate citizen from both a national and global point of view,’ says Siobhan Cleary, Director: Strategy and Public Policy.

‘Our approach is to play on our strengths and work with those we connect to support initiatives that can bring about meaningful change. Part of the JSE’s evolving strategy is to consider how we can use our ability to bring people together, encouraging more corporate social responsibility. We see much potential for collaboration with listed companies and our member community.

‘Via our CSI funding, we have sought to support entities that bring about meaningful, replicable and scalable change through their activities. Where possible, we also use the opportunity to offer support via our own skills and expertise, thereby adding value in a more meaningful manner.’

She says the JSE’s CSI efforts are directed via two main avenues. ‘Firstly, our financial literacy [or education] related activities are undertaken by a dedicated team that focuses on schools, universities and certain community based groups aimed at enhancing financial literacy throughout the country.

‘They work across all nine provinces and their work includes content for the school syllabus in certain grades.

‘Secondly, we have our more philanthropic CSI focus, which is characterised by donating both time and money to causes that fit in with our evolving strategy. We support a number of charities across a fairly broad spectrum of activities.’

One of the charity organisations is Afrika Tikkun, which helps alleviate the myriad challenges faced by youth in the townships, from early childhood to adulthood. Nelson Mandela, moved by the work of Afrika Tikkun, offered to be their patron-in-chief, a position that he held until his death.

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The organisation has adopted a holistic approach to challenges through a model that effectively addresses the social, economic and environmental circumstances and conditions of a community and addresses the educational, health, nutritional and psychological needs of underprivileged and often marginalised youth.

Their mission statement reads: ‘Afrika Tikkun is dedicated to investing in education, health and social services for children, youth and their families through its community centres of excellence and strategic partnerships.’

They currently operate in six centres nationally, which offer early childhood development support, schooling facilities, social services and healthcare, sporting and work-preparedness activities as well as skills training for adults.

The results are evident through the development of the system participants, who become confident and well-equipped to be productive citizens; participants who may otherwise be trapped in an endless cycle of poverty and inadequate education without the help of the programme. Afrika Tikkun is also a model of good governance with a very strong and involved board of directors comprising some of SA’s most prominent business leaders.

Another initiative that the JSE supports, along with other listed companies, is Computershare Change a Life, the proceeds of which go to the Mike Thomson Trust, established in honour of a former JSE employee who was murdered.

The primary fundraising activity is the annual Change a Life Cycle Tour, which sees many of the country’s leading business people, including the JSE’s current CEO, Nicky Newton-King and its former CEO, Russell Loubser, take to the road to raise funds. The trust addresses violent crime – a very real and pressing issue in SA.

Currently, the trust supports the DNA Project, iChoose to Change a Life, Martin Dreyer Change a Life Academy (offering professional training in trail running, canoeing and mountain biking for rural youth thereby allowing them to earn an income and compete at national and international levels), Allan Thomson’s Kushido Karate-do, Nemato Change a Life and the Change a Life Rape Crisis Centre.

The JSE also supports the recently formed National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), an initiative that aims to further the goals of the National Development Plan with regards to reforming basic education in SA.

Funded by government, business and philanthropic trusts, NECT’s programme is set out in the Education Collaboration Framework, the plan for education reform produced in early 2013 through consultation among key role players in the basic education sector.

NECT pursues its objectives via various means, including databased improvement programmes, innovative educational interventions and support for local interventions initiated by other parties.

Image: Fredrik Broden/reneerhyner.com