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Doing good is good for business

Written by  Laurel Cadle Barber
| in Community
| September 4, 2014

Windmeul Primary School is a small under-resourced school situated in ‘Agter Paarl’, located in the Drakenstein Municipality.

         The pupils at the school are children of farm workers and have to walk long distances from their homes to catch the bus to school. During the winter months, they often wait for the bus in the cold, getting drenched. During summer they are exposed to the scorching Paarl heat.
        Thanks to a partnership between Kaap Agri and Standard Bank, the children of Windmeul Primary will be able to start their school days warm, dry and protected from extreme weather conditions.
        The project is the result of a meeting between the executive management of  
Kaap  Agri and Standard Bank, who agreed to take action after a comment from one of the directors. He saw the rural children standing in the rain waiting for their bus. Both companies are constantly striving to find synergy between outreach projects. This was the ideal opportunity to collaborate and form a meaningful partnership.
        Johann Engelbrecht, Executive Communications Manager of Kaap Agri, sourced a manufacturer for the shelters that had to be hardy, durable, safe, and vandalism-proof. Cape Concrete supplied the pre-cast concrete shelters at a special cost as part of their contribution to the project.
bushaltes1        The first two shelters were erected at Windmeul Primary, and more shelters are planned at various pick-up points along the bus route. Negotiations are currently underway with the Western Cape Department of Transport and  Public Works for permission to erect these shelters on provincial roads.    According to Johann Engelbrecht, these shelters at Windmeul Primary are only the beginning –the project will be rolled out to other areas. “This is only the start,” he says.
        Principal Colin Moses of Windmeul Primary was ecstatic about the bus shelters. “These children are transported to school by bus,” he says. “They have to wait for their bus early in the morning, with no shelter.” He said that just as a child cannot learn on an empty stomach, the same applies to a child who arrives at school wet and ill. He expressed his gratitude to Kaap Agri and Standard Bank for getting involved and improving the lives of his pupils.
        The children of Windmeul were obviously excited about their new bus shelter. In the words of one of the pupils:  "We used to get wet – now we don’t get dirty or sick while we wait for our bus.” Little Waleed says: “Dis mooi – dit hou my droog.” Other comments included, “We can now get to school safe – and dry” and “It’s very nice. I can now sit and have my lunch while I wait for the bus. I like to sit in the bus shelter.”
        Sean Walsh, Managing Director of Kaap Agri says, “the Care and Grow initiative encourages all the branches and their staff to become involved in their communities."
Over the last year 121 community projects were initiated at local branch level.
        It is Kaap Agri’s aim to make a difference in the communities in which they operate. They recognise that sustainable business practice is the way to go and they look after the interests of all their stakeholders. This includes addressing environmental and social issues, and not just the financial bottom line.
        As a company, they define success as being a state where all stakeholders are in a better position as a result of Kaap Agri’s existence. Kaap Agri is definitely walking the talk, supporting various community projects. This support includes financial assistance and direct and indirect support to many community projects, including nursery schools, soup kitchens, feeding schemes, old age homes, and children’s homes.
bushaltes2        The company is also involved in agriculture and agricultural development through the Kaap Agri Academy which provides training to emerging farmers and farm workers. Kaap Agri also established the Kaap Agri Employee and Farmworker trust where the beneficiaries are the farm workers, their families and the communities.
        Various learners benefit from Kaap Agri's financial support in their fields, which include agriculture, retail, marketing and management. This year Kaap Agri was named the overall winner of Media 24’s Unlisted Company Social Responsibility Award. The award is given to companies based on their socio-economic and business development initiatives. The company also won the category for skills development for bursaries given to school pupils and students at tertiary institutions.
        It is obvious that in Kaap Agri’s case, doing good is good for business. Willie du Plessis, Head of Agri-business at Standard Bank, says the bank wishes to give back to communities in the areas which they operate, and are constantly looking at other areas where they can make an impact. He said that schools are a particular focus of Standard Bank’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) strategy as they see these children as their future customer base. Standard Bank also invests in projects that can improve the socio-economic circumstances of communities.
       They were especially keen on the bus shelter project, as they would like to ensure that children are able to travel from home to school in a safe environment.
        Their support, however, is not just confined to mere financial support. Their branch staff will be getting down and dirty painting these bus shelters, as well as cleaning up the surrounding area. Staff will also be involved in providing financial literacy education for these children.
        Standard Bank encourages their employees to become actively involved in projects in the communities which they serve. It is seen as an opportunity for these employees to get to know the community they operate in. More importantly, it helps the staff recognise and understand the socio-economic challenges the communities face.
        Mr du Plessis says that the bank engages with social partners based on their presence in the area in which the bank operates, as well as their reputation and ability to deliver on social challenges. Standard Bank strives to actively support the agricultural sector, and to work closely with agri-businesses such as Kaap Agri.