The Covid-19 pandemic is, first and foremost, a public health crisis. But the virus and the measures necessary to contain it have also had a direct impact on millions of people's livelihoods and their ability to access necessities including food, medicine, and education.
Investec has always held firm to the belief that we live in society, not off it. We are therefore determined to mount an urgent and constructive response to the Covid-19 crisis, making use of our own resources and our well-established network of partners and beneficiaries.
Our focus is on five key areas where we can have the biggest impact: food security, healthcare, education, economic continuity and gender-based violence.
Living in society, not off it
For the most vulnerable members of our society, lockdown has meant that even the most basic needs, like feeding oneself and one's family, may now be out of reach.
Investec is providing funds to accumulate much-needed data through increased testing. We are also delivering practical support and equipment to healthcare workers on the front lines.
Education is critical to creating employment and socio-economic growth in South Africa. But the lockdown makes it difficult for learners to access educational programmes.
The Covid-19 crisis and lockdown measures have put thousands of
businesses in jeopardy and countless more jobs at risk.
Gender-based violence is a systemic problem in South Africa, that only worsened under lockdown, with women and children being the worse affected. Investec is supporting select NGOs whose social workers are on the frontline of this alarming surge.
Hunger wasn’t caused by the spread of COVID-19, but measures to contain the virus have exacerbated a long-term pandemic of inequality and poverty. South Africa entered lockdown alert level-1 on 21st September, making food supply easier, but the economic impact of the last six months means that millions of people still cannot afford to buy food. With the economy contracting by a stomach-bottoming 51%, and 2.5 million people losing their jobs, it would be dangerous to assume that the lessening of restrictions, brings a lessening of poverty and hunger. Tackling food insecurity must remain a collective priority, if other measures to contain the various are to have any efficacy.
Extending our reach during lockdown
We have extended our reach beyond existing partners, donating R6.2mn towards food security, a large proportion of this going to NGO, FoodForward SA.
Through this partnership, we are distributing food to 100,000 vulnerable beneficiaries (orphans, aged, disabled, unemployed) two meals a day, for a month.
"Thank you, Investec, for your generous response that enables us to increase our impact and provide food to insecure communities at this critical time. " FoodForwardSA
The Investec Property Fund is providing funding to Soul Food and Rise Against Hunger Africa, to help provide 160,000 meals every month, for the next four months. This is primarily in support of school children and students.
R250,000 has been donated to help Rays of Hope distribute food and healthcare items to 5,000 families in Alexandra township.
Over and above the more structured donations, Investec group and CSI gave R400, 000 in ad hoc donations to NGOs working to assist the vulnerable with food and PPE.
In the last seven months Imbasa Community Centre; Ponelopele Drop-In Centre; Meals on Wheels; Megas in Motion; Siyabonga Africa; Umbrella Foundation; Union of Jewish Women; Women and Men Against Child Abuse; Save the Children SA; Happy Children Social Community; Masakhe Development Centre; Mosselbay Care Centre and the Helderberg Stroke Support.
Engaging established partners
Working alongside our conservation partners, Care for Wild and Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), Investec is able to supply desperately needed food to remote villages and reach the most vulnerable.
In Mpumulanga, Investec is working with Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre to provide hundreds of food parcels to hundreds of families in the Acornhoek community.
In partnership with Care for Wild we are helping to feed 40 families, plus another 50 school children in villages adjacent to the Care for Wild rhino sanctuary in southern Mpumulanga.
"Thank you for all your amazing support Investec. It brings us to tears when we see the need among the old and very young." Care for Wild
By providing for these communities, Investec is not only addressing food scarcity but also helping to ensure the continuity of South Africa’s precious wildlife economy.
In coordination with Unchain my Children, Private Bank and Wealth & Investment in Pretoria are donating R400,000 to feed 183 learners and their families in Mamelodi township.
Partnering with Investec Private Client Trusts
Through the administration of Investec Wealth & Investment Philanthropy, and the funds of Investec Private Client Trusts, 14 beneficiaries have received R2.9mn towards the provision of food, psycho-social support, and healthcare essentials.
Food security and Covid-19: averting a crisis of “biblical proportions”
While social media is full of memes of people bemoaning their additional lockdown kilos, millions of South Africans are at risk of going hungry. The scale of the problem is daunting and requires a coordinated response from government, business and civil society.
South Africa has succeeded in overcoming the worst phase of the Corona virus and is now experiencing a “mature pandemic” as evidenced by the decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths. The government’s most important task going forward is to prevent a so-called “second surge,” as seen in other parts of the world.To this end, increased testing and improved contact tracing will form the cornerstone of how we deal with the pandemic in the months ahead. Investec is committed to assist in all efforts to test and provide crucial PPE, as the country balances the need to open up the economy and keep the infection rate on the decline.
Enabling crucial Covid-19 testing
Investec has enabled and provided funding for a UK client and NGO, PinkDrive to support the National Department of Health with Covid-19 screening. The screening will take place mainly in and around Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (currently high infectious areas).
The Investec Property Fund has made four buildings from its portfolio available to government to use as quarantine or testing centres.
Supporting medical professionals on the frontline
In 2020, Investec Private Banking launched a number of initiatives for our medical professional clients.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we partnered with multiple hotel groups to offer them a safe place to stay, so they could safely isolate and wouldn’t put their loved ones and others at risk.
During the last seven months, we accommodated 174 medical professionals in these hotels countrywide.
Please note that this offer ended on 30 November 2020.
Other initiatives included a WhatsApp group that featured videos offering medical professionals support and motivation, tailored to their specific challenges.
Private Banking also launched a social media campaign thanking medical professionals and posting videos of support with the hashtags #HealthHeroes and #InvestecForMedical.
Providing PPE, sanitizers and expanding care capacity
Investec Private Banking has donated R150,000 to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Growth coalition to provide assistance for the purchase of sanitisers and masks for distribution into informal settlements and townships.
R250,000 has also been donated to the Nelson Mandela Business Chamber to assist in creating capacity in the health space, specifically in the Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth.
Investec Rhino Lifeline has sourced and distributed 1,360 masks to our partners operating in the Bushbuckridge communities and contributed R40,000.
These masks were sourced from a small NPO, Reaboka, that facilitates the economic empowerment of South African women in rural areas, operating in Diepsloot and Grootvlei, near Heidelberg.
Producing washable face masks ensured the NPO's survival during the lockdown, and provided a continued income for crafters. Since 9 April Reaboka has made 1,300 masks with 1,500 currently in production.
Investec Rhino Lifeline also donated R100,000 to ingoing conservation partner HESC, who gave the funds to the Hlokomela Clinic for critical community healthcare, Covid-19 education, testing, and screening.
So far, close to 11,000 people have been screened, over 25,000 masks were produced, PPE equipment was purchased- including non-touch infrared thermometers and face shields. Some of the money went towards paying salaries and the transportation costs of clinic staff.
From Investec Focus: Is SA’s healthcare system prepared for Covid-19?
At a devastating cost to the economy, South Africa's stringent lockdown has bought the healthcare system time to get ready for an upsurge in cases. But the jury is still out on whether we will be ready when the virus hits its peak.
Investec's corporate social investment (CSI) strategy is focused on education and entrepreneurship, as these are critical to creating employment and socio-economic growth in South Africa. During this crisis, and in a post-Covid-19 world, it’s crucial that the thousands of individuals who benefit from our CSI programmes continue to do so.
Taking learning online
To ensure the continuation of our flagship education programme, Promaths, Investec in partnership with Kutlwanong and Tuta-Me, has launched Promaths Online. The offering will enable the virtual continuation of maths and science lessons for current learners, at no cost to them. Investec is carrying the cost of data usage through a reverse billing arrangement with South Africa’s major network providers.
Although virtual, the learners will remain in the same classes that they were in at the beginning of the year and will be taught by the same teacher with whom a close relationship has been built – representing a sense of familiarity and continuity in a world that seems to be changing by the minute.
Current matrics will be the first to be on-boarded, followed by Grade 10 and 11 learners, in a phased approach, once the platform has been stabilised.
With full appreciation that passing maths and science is not enough for one to pass a grade, we will be extending support to cover all other subjects through the Mobi-Tuta platform. Each learner on the platform will have access to online textbooks, worksheets, tests, and practice questions on other subjects over and above maths and science. They will also be able to connect with an online tutor in those subjects should they need extra support. Promaths is fifteen years old, and this online offering is a significant milestone in the programme's history.
Covid-19 presented the perfect opportunity to scale Promaths, for the benefit of many who need it. This new online offering now represents hope for children in a time when they need it most.
Ensuring health messages aren’t lost in translation
Investec Rhino Lifeline and Investec Wealth and Investment Philanthropy have co-sponsored another of our partners in the education space, Good Work Foundation, to create simple, animated videos on Covid-19.
The videos were produced in English, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Siswati, Xitsonga, and IsiZulu, and kept at an optimal file size for easy shareability and access in communities where data is scarce. They provide basic but potentially life-saving information on how the virus is spread and how people can protect themselves through social distancing and hygiene measures.
It is important to recognise the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on South African businesses and communities during these unprecedented times. All of our businesses are working on various options to support and ensure the sustainability of small and medium enterprises within our portfolios.
Contributing to the Solidarity Fund
Investec supported the JSE's initiative to donate all trading, clearing and settlement revenues on the 15th and 16th April to the Solidarity Fund.
Furthermore, Investec and Goldman Sachs's Global Markets Division donated all their respective equity commissions in relation to SA shares trading earned on these days. So far R3.1mn in commissions were generated. A further R2.5mn has since been donated to the Solidarity Fund, together with an offer to use Investec skills and resources should they be needed.
Providing financial support for youth interns
Investec is committed to ensuring that the monthly funds that go to supporting youth in our internships, on the YES programme, on the Umuzi programme and also the Afrika Tikkun programme, continue despite the crisis.
Conscious of just how vital these monthly stipends are during this economic crisis, we've continued paying 1,440 YES programme interns R2,9mn over April and May.
YES, a collaboration between govt and the private sector, was launched in 2018 in response to the unemployment crisis in SA. Its main objective is to create one million work experiences for youth over the next three years. Investec was one of the first companies to sign up to the programme.
"I’m extremely grateful to Investec and ORT SA for this opportunity and investing in my future. They are not only helping me but my family, as everyone else in my family is unemployed and relies on my income to survive.” Keegan Arendse, ORT SA CAPE intern (placed through YES)
Supporting SMMEs to survive
Uconomy is a social enterprise that offers SMMEs business management, development support, advisory services, and labour in order for them to grow sustainably, and in doing so hire unemployed youth.
To this end, they have created initiatives that ease the economic impact of Covid-19. Their response focuses on the manufacture and distribution of hand sanitisers and face masks by young people who are paid a monthly salary through several corporates, including Investec.
To date, Uconomy has bottled and distributed 5,000 units of hand sanitiser and is currently expanding operations to be able to carry more volume. They've employed 200 youths to produce over 5,000 face masks which have been distributed to disadvantaged communities, including Orange Farm, Alexandra, Mamelodi, and Soweto.
Investec Property Fund is working to preserve jobs throughout the full value chain property portfolio, including cleaning and security services companies. They are also providing financial support to the c.260 car guards and car washing personnel that operate across the retail portfolio.
Executive and staff salary contributions
Our President has set an example, along with his cabinet, ministers and premiers, in taking a one third salary cut for three months in contribution to the Solidarity Fund.
Investec stands alongside this inspirational leadership that our President has demonstrated. In South Africa, Fani Titi, Richard Wainwright, Henry Blumenthal, and Nishlan Samujh will be taking a 30% cut in their salaries for three months. These funds will be donated to the Solidarity Fund as well as various Investec initiatives. Investec Group Chairman Perry Crosthwaite and IBL Chairman Khumo Shuenyane will similarly contribute a portion of their annual fees.
Additionally, what makes us extremely proud is that other leaders in the organisation, plus employees of all earning brackets have heeded the call "if we can, we must," and voluntarily donated to the Solidarity Fund and FoodForward SA. So far just over R1.2mn has been donated by employees. (see Food Security above for more info)
As South Africans, we have been shaken by the prevalence of gender-based violence in our society, particularly during this pandemic. At Investec, we stand firmly against sexual discrimination, harassment, and all forms of violence. As part of our stand, we have donated to three NGOs who each play a crucial role in supporting victims of GBV.
16 Days of Activism
In support of the UN's 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children, we've donated to Rape Crisis Thuthuzela Care Centres and Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre.
Our collective donation will further enable the pivotal work done by these organisations, year-round, but especially during the Covid-19 crisis.