For any development endeavour, there is always a need for accountability, and, in most cases, this comes in form of an answer to the question, “Did this make a difference?” For Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, the answer to that question is held in its 15-year Impact Report, which was launched during a reflective and insightful webinar discussion on 22 October titled ‘Impact through Partnership’.

The Foundation celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2019 and commissioned The Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute to conduct an in-depth review of its programmes. The year-long project included intensive data analysis, virtual discussions as well as interviews with community leaders and beneficiaries on how the Foundation’s programme partner entities have impacted individual lives and communities. The Foundation’s partner entities are Adopt-a-School, which also implements the Thari programme in support of vulnerable children and women, KST, the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust and Black Umbrellas

With a keynote address by Dr Tshepo Motsepe, chairperson of the Foundation and South Africa’s First Lady, and insights from Mmabatho Maboya, CEO of the Foundation, together with key partners  the Industrial Development Cooperation, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Phembani, Free State Department of Education and FirstRand Empowerment Foundation,  the participants reflected on learnings from years of private sector and government collaboration with the Foundation  to improve education and grow small businesses, the Foundation’s focus areas.

Maboya said education and small business development “are the most direct means of improving the quality of life for South Africa’s people and are key to developing an inclusive and empowered society. “

Dr Motsepe highlighted the importance of education and small business development in mitigating poverty, noting that higher education and employment security both significantly lower the risk of households falling into poverty in the context of Covid-19.

She called for support for education, skills and small business development as high priorities in South Africa’s recovery and growth effort.

She said the creation of “shared value”, in which “financial benefit also produces social benefit”, has to be a “strategic imperative for all companies”.

“We are called on to be more relevant, and more creative in the objects and programmes of our partnerships,” she said.

Yvonne Themba, a Trustee of the Foundation, shared key points from the report. She highlighted that the Foundation’s impact has been overwhelmingly positive and has succeeded largely through the creation and preservation of exceptional partnerships. The Foundation is unique in its approach to partnership, consistently building effective collaborations in both the public and private sectors. Other positive findings were that the  Foundation has pioneered the use of regulatory frameworks to support and grow many of its initiatives.

As of February 2020, the Foundation has committed R402 million and leveraged R1.2 billion through its partnerships to support tertiary education access, holistic school development programmes, including the provision of eye healthcare to young learners, and the incubation of small businesses.

Panellist Naka Hlagala of Phembani said that CSI though is about much more than just money. ”It is about shared vision, value add and unlocking possibilities,” he said. Other panellists agreed that partnerships should go beyond funding relationships, and embrace other institutional resources that may be brought to bear on development needs.

Among other outcomes of the deliberations were that:

  • trust is essential in partnership relationships;
  • corporates may be challenged to invest required time in CSI programmes;
  • tried and tested development models and organisations facilitate successful partnerships;
  • flexibility and the adaptiveness of “mature” organisations, including in terms of funding sustainability, is important;
  • programme implementation timeframes need to be realistic and account for delays in approval processes;
  • exit strategies need to be well conceptualised and planned for, with sustainability ensured;
  • the “measurement” of partnerships is important and may be achieved thorough indicators provided by anecdotal evidence.

The event provided a platform for diverse partners working in distinct areas to share reflections on how their roles may be enhanced. Participants called for development investors and implementors to be brought together more often.

For Dr Motsepe’s full speech click here.
For Mmabatho Maboya’s full speech click here.

Watch the webinar recording below:


Panel 2: A shared mission with corporate partners to advance equality and transformation