The 13th annual IAB Bookmark Awards took place today in a prestigious virtual celebration. Hosted by the multi skilled Selae Thobakgake and Merica Monamodi; the most thrilling and innovative digital marketing campaigns of the past year were announced.
New online liquor store Liquor.co.za has launched in South Africa. The digital platform caters to the need for an e-commerce portal that can service both direct-to-customer (D2C) and high-volume business-to-business (B2B) requirements, and is the result of a collaboration of expertise from key players in the liquor and entertainment industries.
Construction on The Capital Mbombela's R205m project, set to be a game-changer on the city's hotel and accommodation industries, is well underway with an anticipated hotel opening set for November 2021.
"The city hasn't seen any significant new additions to its hotel repertoire since development ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup projects," says Marc Wachsberger, managing director of The Capital Hotels and Apartments.
"Its status as a leading city in Mpumalanga, at the heart of the province's tourism and agriculture sectors, means that the time is perfect to build an exciting new offering that will be appealing to tourists and corporates alike."
This year, the NGO sector has by and large demonstrated its agility in response to the Covid-19 pandemic by pivoting quickly and assertively to developing needs among beneficiaries, while at the same time coping with lockdown requirements and new social norms associated with the pandemic, such as social distancing.
Innocent Masayira, senior sustainability officer, Salesian Life Choices
However, there were also many NGOs that ultimately succumbed and closed their doors due to shrinking donor allocations as the world’s economy contracted due to lockdown restrictions.
Organisations that survived at the height of the strict lockdown regulations earlier this year demonstrated flexibility as the parameters and cost structures of how organisations worked began to shift. For example, many organisations consolidated their activities and the size of their workforce, which resulted in salary cuts and job cuts.
Meanwhile, organisations' ability to project a long-term view have been compromised by the uncertainty that the pandemic presents and instead organisations have had to orient their approach towards emergent strategies as a means of survival and relevance to the beneficiaries that they serve.
This kind of orientation requires that courageous conversations take place in the NGO sector, especially those organisations who will have survived the turbulent waters of 2020. Leaders and teams will have to open up to individual and collective vulnerability in order to get the insights and feedback that they need so that their sustainability and productive impact in society can be achieved. In other words, old ways of mechanistic measurement and evaluation that may have been the default prior to 2020 will need to be honestly interrogated by organisations in the context of the pandemic, which is expected to continue in 2021. Patterns of leadership that no longer serve and outmoded organisational structures can be expected to be challenged and even re-imagined because NGOs will be expected to make the transition from thinking about providing services efficiently, to thinking about and planning for organisational resilience so that services can reliably be provided.
However, NGOs are still mostly reliant on funding to keep going and the funding landscape in 2020 had been precarious and all indications are that funding pipelines are running dry. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the country’s economy and things will get worse before they get better, increasing the financial pressure that NGOs are under. As funds continue to deplete, major decisions will have to be made about who stays and who gets retrenched and programme managers may find themselves with the short end of the stick because they may be viewed as too costly than programme implementors. It is expected that organisations will continue to work with a skeleton staff and trim at the top because that’s within the organisational language of cost containment.
For example, the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that people are working productively from home and many organisations who have the means will be downsizing to support employees working from home, which will in turn increase productivity.
A further reduction in the number of NGOs operating in 2021 can be expected and it is anticipated that activities will be reduced and consolidated in order to sail through the worst of times.
It can be expected that some funders in the short to medium term will still channel their funds to their existing NGO partners, but they will reduce their contributions in the long term. The question that inevitably arises is, what about the continued survival of under-resourced NGOs who have always struggled to pay their employees on a month-to-month basis even before 2020? These NGOs are likely to close their doors in the new year and for good, if they have not done so already. When NGOs begin to close their doors, the beneficiaries they served will be left vulnerable. It is worth remembering that civil society, otherwise known as the third sector, has a significant presence in South African society, with over 220,000 NPOs registered with the Department of Social Development. During the pandemic, mission-driven NPOs served communities which government and businesses were unable to reach. NPOs are accessible to beneficiaries and have proven to be adaptable in response to the needs on the ground. When NGOs shut down, the invisible will become starkly visible - that is, the true reality of inequality of South Africa will become more visible. Many of those in need that NGOs have been providing services to will overburden already strained government resources.
Civil society’s role in building stability and growth cannot be underestimated and the sector has come up with novel ways to contribute to solving society’s issues. Donor efforts to keep the sector going should be intensified as the pandemic persists.
Every year around this time, I write a blog that looks at the trends in the social investment space for the coming year. This year, that's a real challenge: in a world turned upside down by Covid-19...
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