Sustainability Report

 

SOCIAL INVESTMENT

Corporate citizenship, namely the commitment of business to contribute to sustainable economic development, endorses the principle that no business exists in isolation but is undeniably an integral part of the environment in which it operates. In its relations with all stakeholders (clients, personnel and the community) Remgro strives to be a value partner.

The Company’s donation programme focuses primarily on the development of young people from disadvantaged communities to promote their own self-esteem. This is done in the belief that such investments will provide sound dividends far into the future.

Donations to deserving institutions are usually made over specific periods and cover quite a wide range. No donations are however made to political parties. Although the Company respects the individual’s right of choice to get involved in these organisations, Remgro does not exercise a choice itself.

During the past year, the Company has been involved in the following projects and institutions:

ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND TRAINING

Tsiba – this Tertiary School in Business Administration (Tsiba) was founded in Cape Town in 2004 with the aim of preparing young people with potential through a B degree in Business Administration for the world of work. The course, which spans four years, is fully sponsored and much is being done to create an inspirational environment in which students, staff and volunteers can cooperate to integrate the transfer of knowledge with the reality of society.

Leadership and entrepreneurship form an integral part of the curriculum, and during the course students are exposed to various practices regarding campus management and community service. Tsiba students do not pay back their bursaries, but are encouraged to “pay it forward” by engaging actively in community initiatives, thereby enriching the country’s human resources.

Tsiba is accredited by the Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education and since its inception has enrolled 80 students per year, of which the first group will graduate at the end of 2008. Remgro has committed itself to support Tsiba for a full student cycle of four years.

Shalamuka Foundation – this foundation was established in 2006 to raise long-term funding for the highly regarded penreach programme which supports qualified and unqualified teachers in Mpumalanga and surrounding areas.

Even after 14 years of democracy there are still huge discrepancies in school education in South Africa. penreach tries to bridge this gap by presenting weekly skills workshops for teachers, school management and control bodies, as well as for learners in Grades 11 and 12. Much emphasis is placed on mathematics, science and soccer development.

From a modest start when 40 teachers and 10 schools were involved in 1994, Penreach has grown into an organisation which now reaches 2 200 teachers from 900 schools per annum. it is estimated that more than 350 000 learners from rural areas currently benefit from this programme. Shalamuka exploits Bee transactions and other investment opportunities to ensure sustainable funding for penreach to expand its programme in equipping an ever-increasing number of students with the skills the country so desperately needs.

Beyers Naudé School Development Programme (BNSDP) – some years ago the Kagiso Trust became aware of the great need for facilities and resources in rural schools in the Limpopo province and responded by launching a programme to promote healthy, viable and sustainable school communities in this area.

Attention is given especially to the infrastructure of schools participating in the BNSdp. Remgro has committed itself for three years to this programme and during the past year assisted with the funding of a science and a computer laboratory at Gwamasenga Secondary School in Limpopo, while a contribution was also made to two schools in the North West province.

SciMathUS – adjustments had to be made to this post-matric programme of the university of Stellenbosch as more routes have become available to students, with lower qualifications than before, to access higher education.

For SciMathuS, which aims to assist talented black students from disadvantaged communities to gain access to mainstream higher education, this has resulted in recruiting learners with lower Gr. 12 marks than previously. This challenge was accepted during the past year and most goals were reached, among which was a minimum of 80% of SciMathUS students who enrolled for degree programmes in the natural sciences, applied natural sciences or economic and management sciences at the end of their bridging year.

Fifty students entered the course in 2007 – 31 from the Western Cape and the rest from seven other provinces. Of these students, 45 wrote the final examination in the higher grade, among whom were 15 who wrote mathematics at standard grade in 2006. A passing rate of 83% was achieved in mathematics, 98% in the natural sciences and 80% in the new special accounting course.

SciMathuS evaluates its curriculum on an ongoing basis in order to deliver students of quality – not just students who are coached to improve their Gr. 12 results, but students who are able to enter higher education successfully because of the reasoning, analytical and problem-solving skills they have acquired.

Paul Roos Academy – when the first group of 61 Gr. 7 learners from disadvantaged schools were admitted to the Academy in April 2003, it was expected that the extra tuition during school holidays would help the learners to prepare for the transition to the higher grades. it was hoped that the learners would stay in the programme for at least three years until the end of Gr. 9.

Eventually the learners stayed in the programme until Gr. 11 when 21 of the original class received their certificates in 2007. At the end of 2008, these learners will write their final examination and only then, from an academic point of view, will it be possible to determine what the Academy’s intervention has really achieved. What can already be stated, without any doubt, is that they have progressed immensely in the field of self-confidence and the development of other skills.

In 2007, a total of 280 learners received additional tuition at the Academy. It has been decided to reduce the number of learners to 200 and to concentrate more on merit. Besides the academic focus, learners are also exposed to educational excursions. During the past year these have included visits to the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, the Waterfront Aquarium and the MTN Science Centre at Canal Walk.

Rally to Read – many poor schools in rural areas which suffer most because of the insufficient provision of much-needed resources, would have been completely forgotten had it not been for Rally to Read’s literacy programme.

During the first ten years of this programme, more than R26 million was invested in literacy material for poor schools. Together with this year’s contribution, the amount will exceed R30 million. The inaugural event in 1998 was modest, with 25 off-road vehicles delivering books worth R100 000 to 13 schools in KwaZulu-Natal. During this year’s 11th rally, 450 vehicles participated and schools in eight provinces were visited.

In addition to providing books and funding for a teacher development programme, science kits, stationery, sports equipment and other useful items are donated to needy schools. Remgro is one of approximately 100 sponsors of the project.

Equip – after the problems experienced during the previous year, good progress has been made at the five schools in the Stellenbosch area which Remgro sponsors as part of a school development programme of the National Business initiative. Most promising was the progress at the schools which presented the biggest challenges, namely Ikaya Primary and Kayamandi and Stellenzicht secondary schools.

The Equip programme focuses primarily on school improvement programmes; learner development and mentorship; relationship building, especially between school management bodies and teachers; leadership and management interventions; and learner motivation.

ORT SEED – Remgro has entered into a partnership agreement with ORT-Tech and the district office of the Western Cape Department of Education to offer, through the ORT SEED programme, specialised training and support in curriculum development at two Stellenbosch schools with the aim of implementing this programme in the tuition of mathematics, the natural sciences, technology and literacy.

ORT-Tech will facilitate on site curriculum development at idas valley and Rietenbosch primary. Both schools will receive supportive expertise and other resources and act as anchor schools for an outreach programme to 15 primary schools in the surrounding area.

ENVIRONMENT

WWF South Africa (WWF-SA) – since its inception 40 years ago, Remgro has supported South Africa’s largest conservation organisation. The past four decades have seen WWF-SA expand its reach from a wildlife focus to a broader conservation focus in its pursuit of a world where people live in harmony with nature.

During the past year, WWF-SA has enjoyed particular success in terms of conservation education with the Eco-schools Programme, a joint initiative with Wessa. The programme, which has been running for five years, comprises 887 registered schools and incorporates conservation education into the school curriculum. Additionally, the six learners who received bursaries from SACET (the South African Conservation Education Trust) successfully completed their studies at the South African Wildlife College in 2007.

The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project released 11 black rhinos onto Somkhanda Reserve, a piece of land which was recently reclaimed by the Gumbi community who have committed themselves to using their land for conservation purposes.

CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT

Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) – Remgro’s contribution to the festival is used for the development of the arts. It includes a scholarship for the development of a career in the arts, workshops during the festival and an audience development project which makes it possible for art, cultural and school groups to attend productions.

This year, the Remgro/VenFin scholarship has been awarded to a young pianist from Oudtshoorn who is currently a first-year student at the SA College for Music in Cape Town. The scholarship was advertised at schools and libraries in the Eden District Municipality.

A new project which benefited from the sponsorship is the Klein Karoo Arts Academy which utilises the festival to teach young people skills in the field of the arts – from discipline in the arts to technical expertise and art management. Five free sessions were held and the themes varied from singing and rhythmic musical performances to community art and cultural management.

Field Band Foundation – a combination of inadequate education, depressed socio-economic circumstances and low employment prospects make young people in disadvantaged communities increasingly vulnerable to temptations such as crime and drugs.

Since its inception eleven years ago, the Foundation has endeavoured to do something about this situation. Taking the historically inadequate education in South Africa into account, it was assumed that the sustainable development of young people would be possible only if they themselves took responsibility for their learning and development.

Through music, the Field Band Foundation makes young people aware of their talents and capacity for development. While the transfer of knowledge and skills is important, even more crucial is the development of self-confidence. What has already been achieved by the Foundation, can be described as a moral redevelopment programme which empowers the youth to make positive choices under
difficult circumstances.

WAT – during its 80th birthday celebrations in 2006, the dictionary of the Afrikaans language (WAT) committed itself to raise R20 million to complete the WAT series successfully. Good progress has been made to achieve this goal and Remgro has pledged support for a second term of three years.

The main function of WAT is to document the Afrikaans vocabulary in its broadest sense. It also represents the crown jewel of Afrikaans dictionaries, is accessible on the internet to some 300 000 students at South African universities, and is used as an electronic aid for the teaching of Afrikaans at schools.

Children’s Art Festival (CAF) – during the arts festival in Grahamstown, special workshops are presented where children are exposed to different and fascinating crafts. It is done at a very practical level and by making items that can be sold for their own pockets, the children learn skills with which they can earn an income.

The children who attend the workshops are normally from disadvantaged backgrounds and would otherwise not have been afforded the opportunity of discovering their creative abilities. Thanks to Remgro’s sponsorship, the scope of the workshops could be increased and better equipment and more sophisticated techniques introduced. One of the highlights of last year’s festival was a workshop on African music. The children were not only exposed to numerous instruments, but were even given the opportunity to build their own drums.

SPORT DEVELOPMENT

SA Golf Development Board (SAGDB) – endeavours to make golf accessible to thousands of young South Africans who otherwise would not have had the opportunity of participating. Quality training is provided across the country to players from underprivileged areas with the aim of bringing them into the mainstream of junior golf.

However, the transfer of the skills of the game is not the only facet of SAGDB’s activities. The unique values of the game are also used to inculcate with young players life skills such as integrity, self-confidence and respect.

An important development this year has been the co-operation between the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and SAGDB to develop a mentorship programme in terms of which top coaches of the PGA and SAGDB hold sessions with development coaches where expertise is shared. This promises to improve the quality of coaching in the country substantially and will ensure that young players are taught the right techniques from the outset.

Western Cape Cricket Academy – an investment in young talent which has produced spectacular dividends is the Western Cape Cricket Academy. The national training group currently boasts five former Academy players, while previously another five were included in the SA team. In addition, the Cobras (WP/Boland) presently has no fewer than 14 former Academy members in their side.

In just a little more than a decade, the Academy has grown into a catalyst for cricket development in the country. National and provincial teams literally swarm with players who have honed their talents at the Academy. Initially it was only men’s cricket which benefited, but now women’s cricket is gradually following suit. Five women have already played for South Africa, while the captain of the SA U.19 team to New Zealand and Sri Lanka hails from the Academy.

The University of the Western Cape, which acts as a sponsorship facilitator for the Academy, also benefits from Remgro’s annual contribution. During the past year it was able to improve its facilities to the extent that the Academy can now hold practice sessions there.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Ikamva Labantu – was founded 45 years ago as an “emergency unit” for black urban communities in the Western Cape. Today it serves as a “midwife” and laboratory for community initiatives and has become a model of transforming despondency into hope.

During the past year 30 000 pre-school children, 1 000 orphans, 750 seniors and 6 000 youth were reached by various programmes of Ikamva. Nutrition services to all programmes continue, with 50 urban food gardens supplementing all meals provided by Ikamva programmes.

The major focus in the family services sector is on Remgro’s pilot programme. It has assisted 271 children from 73 households, with particular programme emphasis placed on the acquisition of government social grants and on parenting skills for the adult carers of the children. All “Remgro” children receive material and psychosocial support, including food parcels, stationery, uniforms and school fees.

Ikamva and Remgro have evaluated this model and are planning to replicate it elsewhere in the country as it has proved to be a successful system to help vulnerable children to support themselves.

u Mephi – is an intensive care programme which caters for orphans as well as abused and molested children. Rather than caring for the children in institutions, they are moved as quickly as possible to homes within the community. At present there are 27 such satellite homes. The aim is to get involved in children’s lives as early as possible before they are maltreated or become street children.

Another main aspect of u Mephi’s child caring programme is to find suitable homes for babies who are referred to them by pregnancy crisis centres. For this purpose 19 halfway homes have been established in the larger cities of the country. The first prize is always for the children to return to their mothers or to the extended families. If not possible, the next option is adoption. Only in exceptional cases foster care homes are considered.

u Mephi has more than 2 500 babies in its care and the next goal is to assist at least 10 000 children by 2010.

Stellenbosch Community Development Programme (SCDP) – one of the most important aims of this programme is to attend to the nutritional needs of Ikaya Primary School in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch where some 900 children are fed daily. As mentioned earlier, Remgro is also involved in others facets of this school’s development through the ORT SEED programme.

Other programmes of the SCDP include after-school activities for malnourished children as well as those in the obese category, assistance to unemployed mothers through the vegetable garden and craft projects, and a continuous engagement with teachers and the community with regard to hygiene and discipline of children.

HEALTH CARE

Wits/Donald Gordon Medical Centre (WDGMC) – the past year has seen this academic programme making significant progress in the area of subspecialist training. The first fellow (subspecialist in training) was appointed in the department of Paediatric Oncology, while the departments of Internal Medicine and Anaesthesiology were integrated into the academic training circuit with the appointment of three registrars.

In March 2007, the department of Geriatrics was established at the hospital, with the appointment of a consultant (a qualified subspecialist) in geriatric medicine. This appointment saw the establishment of Geriatrics for the first time in the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences.

The integration of WDGMC as a fully fledged teaching hospital is now well under way. This has been possible only as a result of donor funding. The positive impact of this integration is being felt by the faculty as well as by patients using the facilities. The creation of such academic posts in the private sector is also having a significant impact on the retention of skilled medical staff within South Africa.

Organ Donor Foundation of SA – the availability of life-sustaining organs is literary a matter of life and death. The Organ Donor Foundation dedicates itself to the smooth transition of organs between donor and recipient. There are many grateful people who can testify today that they have been given the chance of a new life thanks to the untiring efforts of the Foundation.

Remgro supports this humane effort by sponsoring four flights per year for the transport of critical organs. The staff of Falconair play a vital role in this regard, which is greatly appreciated.