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How Covid-19 has prompted an unprecedented global giving culture

Covid-19 has laid bare the social divide. It's also prompted an unprecedented global giving culture, says Neptal Khoza, head: corporate social investment at Capitec Bank.
Neptal Khoza, head: corporate social investment at Capitec Bank
Neptal Khoza, head: corporate social investment at Capitec Bank

Khoza says he’s witnessed a genuine sense of giving from corporate leaders that goes beyond the average 1% spend on corporate social investment (CSI). “I’ve seen staff donating to food parcels and clients getting actively involved in donation campaigns. The isolation of lockdown has counterintuitively brought us closer than ever before.”

He says that disasters often have a hopeful effect of bringing humanity together. “Whenever there are disasters like the Khayelitsha and Knysna Fires and KwaZulu-Natal floods, we have witnessed people coming together from all sectors of society.” The pandemic has amplified these efforts, which may change the nature of CSI for the long term.


Long-term benefits for all


Khoza believes CSI is now a core part of business strategy. “This is based on the realisation that building a thriving society has long-term benefits for everyone. This speaks to the idea of creating shared value. Doing good is good for the sustainability of a business.

For example, Capitec Foundation invests in improving young people’s numeracy, which helps to ensure young people finish matric with good maths grades, enabling them to enter careers like engineering and medicine. It also furthers our business mission to entrench robust financial decision-making in all South Africans.”

He adds that the pandemic has cemented the shift from CSI being just an after-profit add on. “Stakeholders’ perspective of value creation has evolved. Many employees want to work for businesses that give back. And we’ve also seen an increase in conscious consumers who want to do business with companies that prioritise societal interest.”

Post the pandemic, Khoza believes the private sector has a massive role to play in the improvement of communities, especially in the education space. South African grade 5 and 9 students received some of the lowest science and maths scores in the world in 2019. The pandemic has only exacerbated the learning gaps due to the enormity of the digital divide.


Levelling up literacy


Going forward, he expects more corporates to get involved in facilitating online learning or setting up new, affordable schools: “We call on more corporates to join us in levelling up literacy through focused programmes,” says Khoza.

A big trend that emerged during the pandemic was the rise of virtual volunteering. This sees volunteers virtually give their time to causes through mentorship, tutoring and other initiatives. So far, close to 4,000 Capitec staff members have been involved. The bank also ran a virtual fundraising initiative with its clients, which raised over R840,000, which Capitec matched.

Going forward, Khoza believes the CSI landscape will remain transformed. “Globally, CSI will remain a key business KPI. Locally, a big focus will be on creating the right solutions for our specific South African context. The digital divide has left numerous people in desperate straits. Whatever collective strategies we employ must address this.

“We need to continue to coordinate our actions with meaningful partnerships with the public and private sector, communities and NGOs. Together, we can massively move the needle,” Khoza concludes.

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