Corporate citizenship refers to a company's responsibilities toward society. The goal is to produce higher standards of living and quality of life for the communities that surround them and still maintain profitability for stakeholders. This month Nation Builder brings you amazing case studies of businesses that are true corporate citizens.
The McKinsey Global Institute Analysis research showed that South Africa – the 2ndbiggest economy in Africa – had one of the worst performing growth rates on the continent. A statistic of this magnitude is enough to trigger alarm sirens in the minds of most business leaders, but for those that subscribe to a different, more strategic way of thinking, the current environment has unspeakable potential for turnaround, but requires a completely new approach to collaboration.
For over a decade, Primestars have participated in, facilitated, challenged, implemented and improved the effects of Social Impact Partnerships. In so doing, we have identified an agile and effective strategy for business, government and non-profit organisations to create real social impact – TOGETHER.
Primestars – The Art of the Edutainment Business
For the past 14 years, Primestars has researched, developed and implemented some of the most successful youth education initiatives targeted at high school learners (90 000 annually) from under-resourced communities – with a specific focus on those coming from townships across South Africa. We utilize Ster Kinekor cinemas as our national Theatres of Learning, with the understanding of the importance of the development of a holistic learner. Our pillars of focus cut across critical topics including Career Guidance, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship [teaching Market Creation Innovation] as well as Matric Math & Science revision. All of this exposes beneficiaries to opportunities that exist outside of their immediate surroundings.
How It Works
Programmes are run nationally during school terms. All the programme content is curriculum-aligned and supplements learners from under-resourced communities where extra tutoring is not accessible, so we are essentially the Private Tutor to Public Education. Screenings are hosted on Saturday and Sunday morning in participating cinemas with thousands of pre-registered learners attending with their subject-aligned teachers to benefit from the programme (teacher development is an integral part of our interventions). Primestars manages the coordination, registration, transportation and management of the entire programme.
As a social enterprise that attracts funds through the successful implementation of High-Impact youth empowerment programmes, we have engaged various stakeholders in Corporate Executives, government Ministers as well as Provincial public leadership, School leaders, Curriculum influencers, Tertiary institutions, mainstream media platforms and of course, the talent – our youth.
From a government perspective, we were able to draw support from the Departments of Basic Education, Small Business Development, Higher Education, Treasury, to name a few, as our programmes assisted them in implementing youth empowerment that contributed to their focus areas as enablers. Big business – including banks, telecommunications businesses, SOEs, energy giants, etc. – became more attracted to our model, over time, as we were assisting them in achieving their respective strategies for social investment.
What We’ve Learned
As Primestars, we believe that business has power. We believe that business has the power to paint a new picture, not for our nation, but with our nation.
As leaders in industry, business needs to take a leading role to transform South Africa. Through its access to problem solving, innovation, critical thinking and resources, business must begin influencing Social Impact policy and not just passively disperse funds into short interventions to meet compliance requirements. Corporate Social Investment is no longer a “feel good” investment or merely a BBBEE scorecard requirement, it is now an integral part of business and growth strategy.
Any company seeking to build a sustainable, scalable business in South Africa needs to focus on building value for both the shareholders and stakeholders. There is no inherent tension between earning lucrative profits and serving the interests of employees, customers, suppliers, creditors, communities and the environment.
Fostering an enabling business, social and academic environment should the Public Sector’s main contribution to the SOCIAL COMPACT. Considering the Considering the myriad of challenges faced at government level, it would be wise to focus Public Sector resources on what is most influenced within their ambit of focus.
Some examples include:
▪ Renewing the education curriculum to develop skills and ways of thinking that are competitive to global standards
▪ Strengthen the development of critical and technical skills to ensure employability into the future bearing in mind the rapid changes technology is introducing
▪ Simplifying registration and navigation for small businesses (eradicate unnecessary red tape)
▪ Addressing bureaucratic red tape bottlenecking trade on a larger scale
▪ Entrench entrepreneurship as a culture to ignite more entrepreneurial contributors to the economy thus boosting thus effectively contributing to economic distribution
▪ Develop a new vision for a new South Africa
Developmental Organisations (NPOs, Social Enterprises), Academia and Society
Interventions of empowerment, inclusion, support, encouragement, renewal, development, economic reform, employment, education, redistribution, entrepreneurship, nation building in general are FOR THE PEOPLE.
The communities need to take accountability for their advancement and play a role in creating, building and sustaining – not only the lives they want to live but also the country that they want to live in as well. We as citizens, alongside the corporate citizens, must take ownership of our country and play our individual roles in making positive, innovative, progressive and profitable contributions to South Africa, as a whole, starting in our immediate communities.
Academia must continue to taking robust steps towards inclusivity and access provided for those that are committed to education and training but are limited by financial circumstances.
Developmental organisations have a duty to serve honestly, creatively, transparently and sustainably. Their research, know-how and on-the-ground experience must no longer be reserved for Social Impact committees but must be invited to contribute to macro business strategy.
The Corporate Education Revolution
With all of this, Primestars has developed a Social Compact to move South Africa forward.
The Social Compact needs to take a long-term view at South Africa’s potential and ride out the short-term volatility. Primestars wants to work with the Social Compact, not just to profit from South Africa’s future, but also to help shape it for the better. We are convinced that we, as business, have a profound role to play in accelerating our country’s development and enabling its people to live better lives. South Africa is truly a country where business can do well by doing good. Primestars would like to unpack the Social Compact strategy and collaborate with like-minded organisations to take this beautiful country of ours forward.