Absa’s new strategy reflects our African identity. We are firmly committed to playing a shaping role in society.
Bringing possibilities to life: Absa’s new strategy
The Absa group embarked on a journey to become a fundamentally different, disruptive and digitally led bank; making some critical choices that shape the business and brand strategies. One of the key decisions is for the business to become an active force for good in society. With that, our new purpose and strategy, at the heart of which is growth, will be driven through three strategic priorities and three enablers, one of which is playing a shaping role in society.
With this enabler Absa’s ambition is to become a leading, purpose-orientated, African bank that is systemically rooted in the countries it serves and which recognises that our own sustainability is directly linked to the sustainability of the communities in which we operate.
We will help shape society by:
- Bringing fresh thinking and thought leadership to accelerate innovative solutions to societal challenges
- Contributing to the societies in which we operate and aim to enhance the continent’s growth and development
- Caring for our environment and helping others to do the same
We want to bring the same innovation and collaboration to fulfilling our role in society as we do to developing new products and services. We want to go beyond words and lead by doing.
Our journey towards playing a shaping role in society
In 2015 Absa launched its Shared Growth strategy. Shared Growth was based on the principle of creating shared value for the business, the customer and our community. This approach focused on three strategic areas linked to business capability: Education and Skills development, Enterprise development and Financial inclusion.
Within the focus on Education and Skills development we focused primarily on providing access to education through our scholarship programme and employability through the ReadytoWork initiative, which is a flagship initiative implemented in all our African markets.
By the end of 2017, through our scholarship programme, we had supported 6 128 students with university scholarships. So far, 1 306 have graduated with degrees ranging from Commerce, Engineering, Humanities, and the Science and Technology fields.
As part of our financial management and literacy training, which is an enabling arm of the Financial inclusion pillar, we have also supported the administration of the public schooling system, training 14 228 school governing body members in financial management and governance across 3 563 schools in South Africa. This has been a very successful programme performed in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic Education.
In our bid to support youth with their transition from the world of school to the world of work we curated ReadytoWork, an employability training programme that supported youth across all our markets in Africa. Through our ReadytoWork programme we have provided face-to-face training to more than 265 000 young people across Africa and placed nearly 20 000 of them in jobs or work-experience positions.
Access to education remains one of Africa’s biggest challenges. Absa has included Education and Skills development as a core citizenship priority for many years now. Our commitment to bringing possibilities to life for our youth will continue, both in school and in the workplace through scholarships and the ReadytoWork programme. Absa will also use its expertise and insights to develop leadership and skilled capacity among African educators and agencies with more tailored institutional support programmes. Education will remain a core focus of how we create value and play an active shaping role in society
With these gains our new strategy allows us to set a fresh course, building on our Shared Growth strategy, we are developing a new strategy that allows us to go beyond the principles of creating shared value to becoming a more active force for good. The principles of shared value form the foundation of our approach to being a good corporate citizen. Absa’s success cannot come at the cost of the communities we serve and the natural environment in which we operate. That is why we are committed to integrating environmentally responsible and socially conscious practices with sustainable, trusting relationships with our customers and communities.
We know that everyone wants to be recognised for who they are and what they can achieve, and that’s why we connect people to opportunities that make what’s possible, real. In our effort to do best for people and planet, we have defined a Social Promise fit for unlocking the continent’s potential to actively shape our societies and promote sustainability, thereby becoming an active force for good.
We will do this through the following four strategic priorities:
1 Creating value and shaping society to establish economies that serve business, communities and people
- Socially and
2 Leading strategic engagements to build social capital as an organisation that is truly African, with Africa’s interest at heart in promoting:
- Fairness and
3 Promoting sustainability, to ensure viable communities through:
- Environmental and
- Community consciousness
4 Drive thought leadership to surface and harness the innovative potential of Africa through:
- Leading insights and
- Relevant innovation
As an organisation we will test our decisions against our Social Promise of doing the best for People and Planet. We recognise that our social impact is far broader than the provision of financial services or our progressive commitments to education. We are on a journey to harness technology and transform our organisation to benefit our business, our employees, and the people and communities that we serve. As an African business we have a vested and long-term interest in supporting growth and development on the continent.
As Absa looks to the future, it strives to lead the conversation and action on the biggest challenges facing Africa – and we will invest our time, expertise and views to the causes that we believe can have the greatest impact. We will actively champion the right social outcomes for an Africa we want to be part of by driving thought leadership, promoting sustainable practices, creating value and facilitating strategic engagements.
The new Absa will drive dialogue and debate on critical development issues affecting communities in our markets. As an African banking group we will advocate for African solutions to African problems. This remains a journey for our business. We are proud of the work we have already done to contribute to the growth of our communities but we know we still have much to learn from our stakeholders. We are planning major new commitments in the months and years ahead, and we will depend on the support of communities to guide our strategy.
This is just the beginning. Watch this space as we work to bring Africa’s possibilities to life.
Sazini Mojapelo | Head of Citizenship
Source: Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2018.