Corporate social investment (CSI) is a constantly evolving field, and the last few years have seen a global trend of businesses aligning their CSI strategies with their core
business competencies. This makes sense as it often means that corporates can then contribute more meaningfully to communities
by using their core skills to develop innovative approaches to developmental challenges. In
South Africa, business has also begun to work more closely with government, supporting
national agendas and priorities. The MTN SA Foundation’s own evolution has
been similar. The launch of the Foundation in 2002 saw a disparate collection of communityoutreach programmes being drawn together under one umbrella for the first time. The Foundation
then embarked on an appraisal of development approaches which resulted in the launch of an
integrated whole-community strategy in 2009. The new strategy co-ordinated our interventions and
concentrated our resources to deliver integrated development to marginalised rural communities
across six provinces. Business alignment manifests in the Foundation’s focus on education and the
information, communication and technology (ICT) that facilitate this. Our education initiatives are
supported by health, entrepreneurship, and arts and culture programmes, facilitating a holistic
approach through which we attempt to tackle the full spectrum of challenges within each community.
We have been working in six focus municipalities for four years, with the fifth year intended to
consolidate work done in the previous four as part of our strategy of project completion and review.
Our strategic partners in various tiers of government have played a major role in both the effective
implementation of our programmes and ensuring sustainability. After all, it is our partners who will
assist communities to carry the work and achievements forward, ensuring a sustained impact.
This report seeks to celebrate our achievements and highlight our learning over the past four years, and makes visible some of our partners as well as various communities and some of their members
who have benefited from the work we have done.
Recognising the cardinal role of education in securing the future of South Africa, the MTN SA
Foundation has channelled the bulk of its funds into education with a focus on ensuring a countrywide
footprint. This we will continue to do. The lessons we have learnt in the last four years will be an
invaluable context to our review of our efforts as we develop fresh approaches to the future of our
philanthropic programmes. Deepening our strategic partnerships will be vital to ensure continued
success and sustainability into the future.
I am privileged to work with people of the highest calibre – both on the board of the
MTN SA Foundation and on the Foundation’s team – whose dedication to the work of the
Foundation has ensured that we touched communities significantly over the past four years.
We would love to know what you think of our report.
Professor Njabulo S Ndebele
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Chairman of MTN SA Foundation
|MTN South Africa is part of the MTN Group, a multinational telecommunications company operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. With a 36% market share, MTN is a major player in the competitive South African mobile telecommunications market, and is a key driver of growth and profitability in the MTN Group’s South and East Africa (SEA) region. We believe access to communication brings with it economic empowerment, an issue of particular importance to the many impoverished communities across South Africa. Our business focus is to connect people to our network and serve our subscriber base of 14.8 million people by developing and implementing an optimal telecommunications operating model. Complementing this is our social investment vision: to become a leader in connecting communities for self-reliance. We work towards this second goal through our social investment vehicle, the MTN SA Foundation.
What We do
During 2008, the MTN SA Foundation adopted a new strategy to guide us in our aims of becoming a leader in connecting communities for self-reliance. This strategy concentrates our resources so that communities benefit from co-ordinated interventions across focus areas. Community level corporate social investment (CSI) interventions work best when they address more than one community need, and that development is most sustained when family stability, good health, dependable infrastructure, quality education and innovation creativity for entrepreneurship are all present together. Our policy has been and remains to bring about meaningful, measurable and sustainable change that will lay the foundations for disadvantaged and rural communities to become self-reliant. To this end, all our interventions place a strong emphasis on capacity-building and
While MTN SA is a company with a strong social conscience, our social investment programme is not only driven by the desire to do the right thing, it is an integral part of the company’s sustainability strategy. By investing in and uplifting communities, we are building a society in which both our customers and our business can thrive thereby creating sustainable employment.
The overarching social investment mandate of the Foundation is to connect communities for greater self-reliance. It does so through a focus on Education, Entrepreneurship, Health and Arts & Culture, which accounts for the bulk of the Foundation’s budget, while Employee Volunteerism and Special and Ad hoc Projects make up the remainder.
The MTN SA Foundation’s integrated approach to social investment places a strong emphasis on whole-community development and ongoing measurement to ensure the delivery of meaningful, relevant and sustainable impact. It invests chiefly in six cluster communities in some of South Africa’s most remote rural areas where the need for intervention is greatest.
MTN SA Foundation is a corporate social investment wing of MTN SA. Since 1994, MTN SA’s various outreach programmes have provided support and upliftment for many historically disadvantaged communities. The MTN SA Foundation was formalised in 2001 and these projects were organised behind a single unified mission: to improve the lives for poor and previously disadvantaged communities, in collaboration with civil society, government, NGOs and other relevant organisations. A strategy was adopted that dealt with our integrated whole-community development approach and seeks to deliver maximum benefit to selected cluster communities in six provinces. Our projects are arranged in four key portfolios: Education, Health, Entrepreneurship, and Arts and Culture.
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During 2008, the MTN SA Foundation adopted a new strategy to guide it in its aim of becoming a leader in connecting communities for self-reliance. This strategy concentrates its resources so that communities benefit from co-ordinated interventions across focus areas. Community level corporate social investment (CSI) interventions work best when they address more than one community need, and that development is most sustained when family stability, good health, dependable infrastructure, quality education and innovation creativity for entrepreneurship are all present together. Our policy is to bring about meaningful, measurable and sustainable change that will lay the foundations for disadvantaged and rural communities to become more self-reliant. To this end, all our interventions place a strong emphasis on capacity-building and empowerment.
A cluster approach for greater impact
While government development and CSI have made a significant contribution to solving South Africa’s socio-economic development challenges, we recognise that there are still many communities that fall through the cracks. Typically, these communities are in remote, rural areas in the most under-resourced provinces. It is here that the MTN SA Foundation has chosen to focus its efforts. We have initially selected to roll out our new strategy in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces. In each province, we identified a cluster of communities of around 15 to 20 high schools in specific municipal sub-districts. These schools provide us with a natural entry point into communities, affording us the opportunity to build relationships with learners, educators, parents, community members and leaders. These partnerships will enable us to deliver an integrated basket of benefits that meet multiple community needs.
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Education is vital for securing the future prosperity of communities, and is the most significant investment they can receive. Education aligns with MTN’s core business, and the Foundation focuses on providing information, communication and technology (ICT) connectivity and improving maths and science performance in schools.
The MTN SA Foundation’s relationships with schools are central to its ability to implement projects that address community needs. Schools allow the Foundation to engage with educators and youth, but they also provide access to parents, governing bodies and school management and in this way connect the Foundation with the broader community.
Unemployment and poverty are major challenges which many South Africans face today. Young people who are recently completed Grade 12 or graduated from tertiary institutions needs to be more creative in their approach to wealth creation and economic upliftment. The MTN SA Foundation recognises the important role that entrepreneurship can play in combating unemployment. If introduced at a school level, it can produce students with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed.
Health is an essential ingredient in community sustainability, and the Health portfolio implements community projects focused on disease prevention, treatment and care. The Health Portfolio also runs life skills projects in schools to empower learners to make choices for a healthy future.
This portfolio provides learners and teachers in under-resourced schools with access arts and culture curriculum-aligned teaching materials and training. MTN SA Foundation’s community-based arts and culture projects provide community members training, capacity-building and skills, enabling them to take advantage of wealth-creation possibilities in arts and culture industries.
MTN has a vibrant culture of volunteerism, and the company encourages all employees to volunteer in their local communities. While the company drives the co-ordinated global efforts of the 21 Days of Y’ello Care campaign, it is prouder still of the way in which MTN staff members have heeded the “Live the Change 365” call to volunteer on an ongoing, year-round basis.
Our special projects include broader, nationwide community-building projects with the main focus on women and child development. Ad hoc projects cover requests from a wide range of organisations including university-based programmes, SANNA, SADET and 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence.
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