Strong relationships: Changing Funders to Partners

 Thembiso Kodisang is part of Investec’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) team. She has worked in the social development industry for many years and understands that the success of a company’s CSI initiatives cannot be determined by one factor alone, but that there are some that play a greater role than others. Thembiso shares their CSI “secret sauce” (key ingredient) for what has been their greatest attribute to development success: Establishing strong relationships.


“I would say that the words ‘partnership’ and ‘relationship’ can be used interchangeably and are what I believe has been Investec’s secret sauce in our striving for social development impact. Relationships speak to the core of the Investec team’s strategy. We pride ourselves in all our core business offerings and the relationship approach used to bolster our Private Bank offering is the same approach we use in the CSI space. We found that healthy and strong relationships are the key drivers to a successful CSI programme.


At Investec, we know the importance of collaboration which, in return, leads to stronger partnerships. We frequently spoke about collaboration at the Nation Builder Collab Forums in the past year, and we found ways to improve on this vital part of our winning recipe for successful partnerships and collaboration. We saw how not only our collaboration and partnership with NGOs had to be right but how we had to prepare ourselves better for collaborating and partnering with other corporates and the government. It is important to remember that in partnering, you need to partner with the “right” people that share the same vision and approach as you.


That being said, it is sometimes more difficult to take off the ground in practice than it sounds in the discussions we had at these Nation Builder Collabs. We had to really delve deep into each partnership and collaboration separately and ensure that all the basics for successful collaboration and partnership were in place, and then add the unique elements to make each reach its full potential.


Investec emphasizes that we should not be seen solely as funders, but as partners. When that can be established, we have found that the relationships with our CSI, NPO and community partners have blossomed and become more effective. This approach has helped with having open and honest conversations and enabling us to identify challenges or concerns early on.


Focusing on, and investing time in, building great relationships has improved our collaborations with our partners and also assisted us in reviewing the effectiveness of our own strategies as a department, things we had not really focused on as much in the past.  


Investing in building healthy and symbiotic relationships has helped us to gain knowledge from like-minded peers and also helped us to support others in having a greater impact on the communities within which we, and they, operate.  This in turn has given us a greater sense of community, created shared values, provided deeper insights into the sector and strengthened values we have already had aligned.


watch this short video of Thembiso sharing her secret sauce



Thembiso Kodisang CSI consultant for Investec Private Bank.

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