Sunday Times explores CSI with G4S & BPF
In a recent interview for a supplement in the Sunday Times in South Africa (published this coming November), journalist Trevor Crighton spoke to key decision makers at G4S Africa to ascertain their views on sports development and Corporate Social Investment (CSI) on the continent. This blog article features extracts from the interview.
Key contributors to the discussion:
- Elanie Kruger, Regional HR Director, G4S Africa
- Leandi Ferreira, Regional Communications Specialist, G4S Africa
- Richard Bennett, Founder & MD, Bhubesi Pride Foundation
- Oliver Munns, Operations Director, Bhubesi Pride Foundation
Does G4S see sports development projects like this one as CSI projects?
G4S definitely sees sport development initiatives as CSI projects. Sport is an excellent medium to promote healthy life choices and a fun way to create awareness of important issues such as protecting the environment, human rights and health and safety. The initiative promotes employee engagement and matches our company values, as well as our key CSI objectives.
This is the G4S Africa Region’s third year in partnering with Bhubesi Pride Foundation (BPF) – G4S’s premier pan-African CSR project. With BPF, G4S has developed a partnership which shares our vision of making a positive and sustainable difference in Africa. By developing our youth, we make a sustainable difference to the community.
What does G4S hope to achieve through supporting sports development?
G4S is the largest private sector employer and largest security company in Africa, with operations in more than 26 African countries and more than 124,000 employees on the continent. Our significant footprint across Africa means that the economic and social impact of our operations affects the lives of millions of people across the continent.
Extreme poverty, illiteracy and unemployment continues to be one of the most challenging realities of doing business in Africa. Our commitment to identify and implement sustainable projects which improve the conditions in which our employees work and live is a key part of our business model across Africa.
In partnership with the BPF, G4S therefore actively seeks to:
- address and reflect the interests and concerns of our employees and our business
- address our core CSI focus areas of health, education, social welfare and support of Africa’s youth
- make a demonstrable, measurable and sustainable difference in the lives of the people we touch
- capture the hearts of our employees and customers – active engagement and participation in any initiative we support is key
What are G4S’ views on the knock-on effects of sports development for South Africa as a whole – and in the case of Bhubesi Pride Foundation, for the other countries in Africa that you visit?
Sports are inherently engrained in our South African heritage and are something that South Africans, in particular, are very passionate about. Sport is the one thing that breaches all cultural, social and economic divides. It brings communities and stakeholders together, it has the ability to inspire and it provides a great platform to empower people.
Organisations are increasingly looking for ways to effectively and sustainably engage their communities. Sport development has proven to provide this platform and has given organisations – which have opted to invest in sports development – a universal language to communicate with their stakeholders.
What are the success stories that have come out of working with Bhubesi Pride Foundation?
The ‘rugby-for-good’ community work Bhubesi Pride Foundation and G4S have been carrying out together in Africa since 2013 has been remarkable. Our fieldwork embodies the true spirit of effective planning and teamwork – crucial in successful businesses and in sports teams around the world. We continue to impact around 3,500 African pupils annually, introducing rugby skills to underprivileged communities, developing skills, and empowering several hundred local staff as coaches and leaders.
G4S employees – working with Bhubesi Pride Foundation’s volunteers in nine countries – deliver life skills and careers talks to young people, provide refreshments and valuable giveaways throughout our weekly coaching clinics, and necessitate all the key components – t-shirts, food & drink, music, inviting dignitaries and press, and engage in community coaching work – on our huge rugby festival days, which end the coaching clinic weeks.
On a broader level, the partnership has empowered local G4S employees to become leaders in their community and to continue with uplifting their community, even when the BPF team is not present in-country. G4S employees revisit the participating schools on a regular basis to see what progress pupils are making, provide the children with follow-up health and safety material and, in some areas, continue with rugby coaching sessions as in the case of Davis Banda. Davis, a G4S Malawi Coordinator for Health and Safety, continues to coordinate regular touch rugby coaching clinics with children at a local school in Lilongwe in his free time.
A lot our employees’ children attend the schools that forms part of the project. They have an opportunity – as parents – to participate as rugby coaches or life-skills teachers. This, along with leadership seminars the charity runs with G4S African businesses, helps employees’ personal and professional development. G4S employees have been so inspired by the project work done in collaboration with the BPF that they have decided, on their own accord, to launch CSI legacy projects alongside the BPF’s activities, that adds to the sustainability of the project and benefits the broader community.
G4S South Africa Care and Justice Services’ Mangaung Correctional Centre (MCC) in Bloemfontein, partnered with the Provincial Library, which forms part of the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, to donate library books to one of the participating schools (Matle Primary School), who were in dire need of new educational material. The official handover of the books took place on 16 June, which is also the day on which South Africa celebrates Youth Day (annually celebrated public holiday), in the presence of senior G4S management, local media and representatives from the department. This goes to show what can be achieved if you combine the forces of employees who are passionate about social upliftment with local and governmental authorities.
What kind of legacy does the program seek to leave behind in the countries it visits?
G4S and its individual business units in Africa fully embrace Bhubesi Pride Foundation’s goals to unite, empower and inspire communities through rugby. The latter – to ‘inspire’ – is something we’ve increasingly been working on together. This goal drives our CSI legacy projects. G4S, along with key stakeholders and customers, have for example helped to open a library in a township area of Bloemfontein (as described above); initiate environment awareness-raising activities like tree-planting in Swakopmund (Namibia) and Jinja (Uganda); overhaul the security and ablution facilities in a township school in Gaborone (Botswana); install 25 computers at a rural Zambian school in Choma; and implement a community fire-safety programme in Nairobi (Kenya).
From the charity’s perspective, rugby is the tool for engagement. It has inspired key decision makers at G4S to purposely involve its Africa businesses and employees in meaningful community outreach work (including learning how to coach rugby), and empower its workforce to creatively collaborate with customers and the community to make a measurable difference.
The process continues to be humbling, rewarding and wide reaching, where the sustainability of what we do with G4S strengthens every year.
We recently asked Elanie Kruger for her thoughts on the RWC…
Elanie, while we lead the largest community rugby project in Africa every year together, there’s another big event taking place in England as we speak – The Rugby World Cup. We know you’re #backingtheboks, but if it’s not South Africa, who do you think will lift the trophy?
“You are right, the first prize for us would be if the Springboks bring the trophy home, but if we were to pick a team that we are also rooting for, it would be the England Rugby team.”