The shock announcement a month ago that the unemployment rate has risen by 0.5% to 27.2% in the second quarter of this year has added further weight to the necessity of short- and medium-term job creation efforts.
President Cyril Ramaphosa responded to this at an ANC lekgotla, announcing that the ruling party will tell government “to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite growth that will lead to the creation of jobs, especially for young people and women”.
But eyes should also be on corporate South Africa to see how it will respond to these latest numbers.
One initiative that has quickly gained traction is the Mandela Centenary Campaign, whose vision is to raise R100 million for job creation and literacy in the year of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.
It’s the brainchild of South African social enterprise, the Relate Trust, and kicked off at the end of March 2018. The project has two main aims: to create earning opportunities for unskilled people (who make the special centenary bracelets) and to fund the Mandela Library project (with the proceeds from the sale of these bracelets).
In just four months, the initiative has secured partnerships with several big businesses who looked beyond 67 minutes on Mandela Day in favour of being part of a vision that will have a long-term effect on thousands of South Africans.
The Relate Trust raises funds for other NGOs, while empowering some of South Africa’s poorest communities. Their unique business model is a proven success as it has raised more than R50 million for over 120 charities globally, while creating thousands of jobs in the process.
Relate CEO, Neil Robinson, says that in terms of stepping up job creation efforts, the centenary campaign is crucial: “The number of people between the ages of 15 and 34 not in education, training or employment increased to 39.3%, or four out of ten, in the second quarter of this year. This is a crisis that needs to be addressed now. We offer a simple and tangible solution for individuals and companies to make a real difference by coming on board, as other major brands have done.”
The companies who have already partnered with the Relate Trust come from a number of sectors and include Pick n Pay, Protea Hotels by Marriott, Woolworths, South32 (formerly BHP Billiton), and Comair, among others.
'A national priority'
South32 Chief Operating Officer, Mike Fraser, says that the Mandela Centenary campaign supports the company’s commitment to making a difference in communities. The mining group has gifted thousands of bracelets to their staff across the country.
“Every year for Mandela Day, our people come together to help alleviate poverty by taking time out to serve and assist various charitable organisations in our communities. This year, we’re proud to support this cause which makes a difference and improves lives now and for generations to come, by giving our employees a special bracelet that honours Nelson Mandela’s centenary and legacy,” Fraser said.
Comair’s Head of Corporate Communications, Susan van der Ryst, says job creation should be the focus of every South African: “Creating employment and ensuring that young people have the knowledge and abilities to take up these jobs and thrive, or create their own opportunities, must be a national priority. It is why Comair is supporting the year-long Mandela Centenary campaign, providing thousands of bracelets for its employees.”
For Woolworths, the partnership with Relate is a continuation of a long-standing relationship based on mutual principles of sustainability. The campaign is at the core of Relate’s endeavour to make every day of Madiba’s hundredth year a Mandela Day.
One library impacts 15 000 children
The beneficiary that the bracelets support – the Mandela Library Project – installs and implements the running of container libraries in under-resourced schools across South Africa.
The direct link between education and employment is also well-documented. Alice Albright, CEO of Global Partnership for Education puts it simply: “Chronic youth unemployment puts a brake on national economies, and the lack of a literate and skilled young workforce limits businesses’ ability to generate higher growth, better profits and more jobs”.
Through this one initiative, thousands of jobs can be created while literacy resources will impact tens of thousands of children directly.
Businesses who would like to get involved with the campaign should contact Relate at firstname.lastname@example.org.