How does South Africa’s largest retail bank with over 19 million clients create a culture of giving back for the long term? Capitec Bank has managed to mobilise its fleet of 15 000 staff members to commit to volunteerism through ongoing partner-run programmes.
The bank is also on track to give R51 million back to local communities through various initiatives addressing mental wellness, food security, and its ongoing investment in maths education.
The latter is driven by the Capitec Foundation, which wants to nurture a maths culture in South African schools. To achieve this, the Foundation has been investing in providing experiential exposure to pre-service teachers, helping them become competent and increasing the supply of skilled maths teachers in the education landscape. The Foundation says this will ultimately produce more confident maths students.
Capitec volunteers are actively involved at these Capitec Foundation schools and contribute to supporting the country’s education system differently.
In addition to a lack of quality maths education, South Africa is also challenged by high starvation and malnutrition, with 6.5 million people living without knowing where their next meal will come from. Capitec partners with Meals on Wheels to help eradicate hunger in South Africa. Within this partnership, they look beyond providing meals to empower recipients to break out of poverty by providing them with skill sets to help them become sustainable.
Leela Moodley, Head of CSI at Capitec, says, “Volunteerism is cathartic, offering people another perspective. It plays
a role in motivating people and breaks job monotony with inspiring acts and ways to make a personal contribution to the country. It also aids in skills development. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technology drives productivity and growth but can also create high-stress levels and anxiety in the workforce, there is a need to add purpose and kindness to the equation. An organisation investing in kindness for its employees and the communities they serve displays high levels of EQ, not only IQ”.
Moodley shares the following guidelines to create a culture of giving:
- Social Responsibility needs to be at the core of business performance. A ‘profit with purpose’ philosophy must be prioritised, emphasising shared value.
- It needs to be deliberate: How a business gives back should be one of its key performance metrics, embedded at an operational level.
- It needs to be easy: Capitec has key partners, including Meals on Wheels, WWF, and others, which enable it to offer its team year-long volunteerism programmes nationwide. Staff are also given three days a year to dedicate to doing good. That’s over 360 000 hours collectively across the group.
- It needs to be collaborative: Many of Capitec’s initiatives are staff driven. Team members are motivated to support causes they care deeply about. For example, countless senior citizens come into the bank’s branches at pension time. Many have mobility issues. So, Capitec staff members have raised funds for wheelchairs to make the experience easier for their older clients.
- It needs to be its own entity: How CSI is positioned in an organisational structure is essential – including how it’s integrated across the business. It must have influence and buy-in from stakeholders at every level. It should be driven by the board and C-suite, with a dedicated owner to push the agenda and keep projects on track. For example, Capitec has a CSI team with ambassadors in every province.
- It needs to be measurable: The volunteerism framework must be very structured, with clear baseline and end-line measurements. Capitec’s work and investment in education have been extensive – especially in upskilling young people in improved numeracy, where it’s essential to have project plans with defined deliverables in place.
Moodley adds, “We see the evolution of business, from a strong profit focus to a profit with purpose approach. As resources get eroded, and people and the planet take the strain, corporates are more conscious of our impact and need to give back”.
This article was published in the Trialogue Business and Society Handbook 2022 – 25th Edition.