CASE IN POINT // Massmart
by Andrew Ngozo
Nurturing Talent, Creating Opportunities
A successful South Africa is premised on having capable future leaders. Massmart has taken the lead in this regard by not only nurturing South Africa’s future leaders but also empowering the communities in which they live.
Through its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives, Massmart has identified education, early childhood development (ECD) and nutrition and feeding, as pivotal areas in nurturing South Africa’s future leaders.
Lesego Moagi, Corporate Social Investment Manager at Massmart tells us that the company achieves this through its various CSI initiatives. “We realise there is a gap in education but,
unfortunately, we cannot go into classrooms, nor can we build schools. However, we can effect positive change when and where possible,” notes Moagi.
Massmart, through its ECD programme called SUCCEED driven by Makro, has partnered with Hope Worldwide, an organisation that works to enhance the lives of vulnerable children through education. Makro supplies early childhood development packs which include educational toys and learning materials. The programme also includes training offered to ECD practitioners, so that the packs provided are used optimally. “The uniqueness of this programme is that it goes beyond just giving out stuff to children in need, and aims to create sustainability at the schools and crèches,” he says.
A Hungry Child Can’t Learn
This is a school feeding programme where Massmart provides primary schools with fully equipped container kitchens. “We convert containers into kitchens with stoves, gas burners, storage space and utensils. The schools’ staff also receive training in areas such as food preparation and hygiene,” shares Moagi. Massmart has partnered with the national Department of Basic Education to ensure that the neediest schools in South Africa are identified and can benefit from this programme. Currently, this programme benefits at least 15 000 children on a daily basis across South Africa.
Another Massmart feeding programme, Vegetables Under Construction, has had an amazing ripple effect with the Department of Basic Education devising a plan to incorporate gardening into schools’ curriculum or extra-curricular activities. “We often find the vegetables have been neglected,” says Moagi. “So now, apart from gaining much needed skills, learners can be in control of their destiny by growing their own food and will be assured of learning more with full stomachs.”
Helping to build a better future
An exciting programme that Moagi is very passionate about is Builders Warehouse’s school maintenance project – Ripples for Good. Through this programme, schools in Southern Africa have benefitted from maintenance and renovations. “Our partnership with Ripples for Good allows us to touch lives of impoverished communities through the establishment of a ‘wish list’ compiled by a school to ensure we address the right needs at the right time. We have discovered, a task such as painting classroom walls does wonders to a child’s learning environment, turning it into a space they are proud of and more conducive for learning,” he says.
A Few Obstacles along the Way
Moagi points out that it is not all sunshine and rainbows in its efforts to carry out their various corporate social investment programmes. In rural areas where schools are not easily accessible, giving the necessary support is often a challenge that, Moagi notes, Massmart has encountered many times. “Massmart ensures additional efforts are made to reach these schools, some of the most needy in our country, so that children aren’t left wanting,” says Moagi.
He adds, “We found that not a lot of time was spent considering what food to prepare for different cultures in schools where we had donated container kitchens and so we produced a recipe book for the National School Nutrition Programme, ‘Mnandi 4 Sure’, which caters to various cultural dietary needs.”
A policy amongst Massmart’s largest stores is to adopt a school within a 20km radius of its location. An in-store corporate social responsibility champion is appointed and it is their responsibility to ensure that they keep in constant contact with the respective school principals and school governing bodies to find out what the school’s needs are.
Nurturing South Africa’s Future Leaders through CSI
As a retailer Massmart’s CSI initiatives often focus on donating products rather than money, explains Moagi. “For instance, school children may need clothes or back to school stationary, or a girls’ home might need new computers. Through our stores, we source their required products and then donate these to children’s’ home or schools in need.”
He goes on to reveal that a more interactive online platform will be rolled out in the near future. As early as 2014, the company will be launching a website explaining and facilitating Massmart’s CSI initiatives and focus. Each month will have a theme and organisations will have the opportunity to nominate themselves by showing how they can best be helped in a particular month. The new system will also be more engaging in that it will allow Massmart to profile and showcase the various organisations that have been helped.
You Can Get Involved
While most South African companies undertake CSI initiatives by virtue of legal obligations this is not the case for Massmart, a multi-national organisation that has a diverse customer base and constantly works at being in touch with the needs of the communities it operates in. “CSI is, for Massmart, everyday core business. Hence we are reaching out even more to the public and asking them to tell us how they can best be helped,” Moagi elaborates.
It is folly for an institution that is an integral part of the communities it serves to neglect the needs of these same communities and Massmart is mindful of this. Societal development and empowerment, environmental concerns and creating sustainability through its programmes are at the core of Massmart’s CSI programmes.