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Vodacom Foundation

The Vodacom Foundation is the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) arm of Vodacom South Africa.

The Foundation utilises a portion of Vodacom South Africa’s profit to empower society, using its core capabilities in technological innovations.

Launched in 1999, the Vodacom Foundation (the Foundation), has been contributing to societal development by promoting education and gender empowerment. To drive sustainable development in South Africa, the Foundation has partnered with reputable organisations to grant over R1.1 billion towards various programmes that have transformed ordinary people’s lives.

Vodacom believes that digital technologies can address some of the country’s most pressing humanitarian challenges and our responsibility is to utilise our technological resources and prowess to mobilise social change to improve people’s lives today, build a better tomorrow and enable sustained positive social outcomes.

Evolution of Vodacom Foundation

The Foundation has evolved from being a charitable entity to being a developmental and strategic entity that drives socio-economic transformation. The Foundation is also taking lead providing ICT support in Corporate Social Investment (CSI) provisioning to communities, schools, government, and organisations.

We utilize our innovative mobile technology to enable social change largely focusing on Education and Gender Empowerment.

Guided by the National Development Plan and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Foundation is positioning Vodacom as a purpose led organisation that supports government socio-economic transformation programs.

Our positive evolution is evident in the consecutive three-year rating as the top CSI Company voted by other corporates.

Vodacom Programme Strategic Objectives

Education ecosystem, focusing on all education levels – from early childhood development (ECD) to adult education – and encompasses support to learners, teachers, parents and communities, providing adequate learning material and nutrition, and maintaining infrastructure; and

Gender ecosystem, focusing on skills development for women farmers, including prevention, response and empowering the survivors of GBV.

The Foundation's Education Ecosystem

Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs)

Over the past four years, Vodacom has identified and supported 15 ECDs. Assistance in terms of building and painting, fixing ablution facilities, decommissioning of pit latrines, improving security and providing ICT equipment in the form of tablets, TV, teacher laptop and educational equipment as well as a mobile library was given to all ECD centres. This support gives the learners access to technology and content that they would otherwise not have. The upgrades to the ECD centres also allows the owners to provide a better environment for learning and by so doing increases their chances of attracting more learners and more income. Some of the ECDs also receive support from Vodacom in the form of employee volunteerism, where the volunteers will work with the ECD practitioners and learners in how to use utilise the technology.

Schools of Excellence:
In 2019 the Vodacom Foundation selected 13 schools from the 2598 adopted schools to form part of an education ecosystem, the 13 schools are referred to as Schools of Excellence. The concept of schools of excellence is framed and aligned to the education definition that view these as schools that promote and support academic excellence thus enabling quality education for the previously disadvantaged communities. Within the SOE, the Foundation does not only focus on ICT provisioning but it provides a holistic support that encompasses infrastructure, partnerships, community involvement, provisioning of government approved e-learning content and teacher support. In particular, Vodacom has contributed the following to the 13 schools of excellence:

  • A fully equipped, connected computer centre
  • Upgrades to the infrastructure, replacing broken windows and doors, fixing collapsing ceilings
  • Eradicating the pit latrines and replacing it with appropriate ablution facilities.
  • Upgrades to the security of the school, this includes installing a strong room in all the schools.
  • Providing ICT support the will offer ICT training and change management

By doing all of the above, Vodacom is responding to some of the most pressing needs that are faced by our young learners. These improvements speak directly to the mandate of the government as well as ensuring an improved and quality education for all. The Foundation also provides onsite support through the placement of ICT coordinators and psychosocial support practitioners. There are currently 20 Schools of Excellence across the country.

Community Hubs (Teacher Centres)
Vodacom Foundation supports 86 centres across the country by fitting out the centres with a computer lab and connectivity. These centres are used by the Department of Basic Education to provide teacher training but it is also used by community members who need to access the internet. The Vodacom Youth Academies are hosted in the Vodacom supported centres and so far, more 3279 farmers have been trained.

Youth Academy
There are 10 Youth Academy centres across the country. Theses academies host accredited Technology programmes for out of school youth who were not able to go to university. Since inception, more than 1500 young people have been trained.

ICT Coordinators In order to support the graduates from the Youth Academy centres, Vodacom recruits and places some of them at the Schools of Excellence, the ECDs and the Vodacom supported NPOs. The purpose is to assist these institutions/organisations with technology but also to provide the volunteers with valuable work experience. We currently have 75 ICT coordinators across the country.

Psycho-social Support in Schools
We will have 36 psycho social support placed at 25 of our schools of excellence by March 2024 in all our provinces. These professionals assist learners and educators in dealing with issues of bullying, gender-based violence and other psycho-social issues. Up to 2023 over 26000 learners in over 42 school were reached.

Gender based Eco-system
The focus is on Prevention, Response and Empowerment.

Prevention: Launched the Bright Sky mobile app in 2020. The zero-rated Bright Sky app continues to assist people to understand GBV as well as access support and help. The Vodacom Foundation established the Gender-based violence Command centre in 2014. This is a 24 hr toll free call centre where victims of violence can access counselling and advice.

Response: In 2021, Vodacom placed 10 psycho-social support professionals to assist educators and learners deal with issues of violence, bullying and GBV in schools. In 2023, we are sitting on 25 professionals in all provinces and we have reached 26 000 learners across 42 schools. During 2023 over 28 000 learners in 35 schools were reached with 414 families assisted.

Empowerment: Vodacom Foundation empowers survivors of violence by providing ICT training to shelters across the country. To date more than 1500 women have been trained.

Vodacom SA ranks No.1 in driving development impact

In an exciting recognition of our commitment to driving positive change in society, Vodacom has secured the number one position as the company perceived to have the greatest developmental impact among South Africa’s top JSE listed companies. The result is from annual research on corporate social investment (CSI) and reputation, conducted by consultancy firm, Trialogue. Vodacom took the top spot for developmental impact in the category of Top Company ranked by other companies for the seventh consecutive year and in the category, Top Company as ranked by non-profit organisations, up from 7th place last year.

Vodacom employees do their bit for food security

Employee volunteerism is another important way in which Vodacom gives back to communities. This year, we decided to pool our resources and efforts into improving food security. On Mandela Day in July, Vodacom employees turned out in their numbers to support the cause. They engaged in food packing activities, food gardens as well as packing and providing soup jars to ECDs. In just one month the number of volunteering participation increased from 4% to 24% which is above the benchmark of 15%. There were more than 20 events across seven provinces. More than 1000 employees participated and 25 communities and 24 NGOs were impacted. This Mandela Month activity was followed by another food security volunteering programme that took place in October for World Word Day. For this event, the staff packed 63 000 meals which equates to 247 learners having 5 meals per week for a year. It is worth mentioning that Vodacom is currently number one on the For Good platform, which is a platform that manages staff engagements for several big corporates including Sanlam, Standard Bank, Old Mutual and Coca Cola.

Gender Empowerment

Gender Based-violence programme

The scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) is pervasive in South Africa. According to Stats SA the number of women experiencing violence is five times higher than the global statistics. Vodacom’s approach to GBV focusses on prevention, response and victim empowerment.

Prevention and Response

In March 2014, Vodacom and the Department of Social Development (DSD) collaborated to launch the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre, with Vodacom contributing R4 million for the creation of the call centre that is managed by trained government-employed social workers.

In December 2016, a Skype capability was launched at the call centre to give access to the victims of gender-based violence from the deaf community.

The call centre serves as both a mechanism for prevention in the case where victims and perpetrators are seeking counselling. It also serves as a response mechanism where the police can be dispatched if the life of the caller is in danger, as our technology enables the social worker to geo-locate the caller and alert the police. Fighting GBV requires a coordinated approach and partnership between government, civil society and business.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 national lockdown, there was an alarming increase in intimate domestic violence. Even though the Command Centre receives a variety of calls ranging from depression to social grants and food parcels, the GBV related calls increased phenomenally in comparison to the calls received before the lockdown. To deal with the increase in reported incidents, the DSD increased the number of social workers from 48 to 58.

As part of the prevention strategy, the Foundation launched the #Bethelight campaign focusing on behavior change and including men in the responses and interventions.

More than 1 000 employees have attended our GBV Learning sessions – informal sessions that, with the assistance of gender experts, assists employees to understand drivers of GBV and how we can change the behaviour.

Victim Empowerment

The victim empowerment programme trains survivors of violence in relevant ICT skills. In partnership with the DSD, Vodacom has trained 1 300 survivors of violence in shelters across the country.

ICT in Agriculture

Agriculture is a knowledge-intensive field, with new technologies emerging every day, from drones and sensor technology to climate-smart agriculture, which all improve productivity. Women need to be empowered through technology if they want to start competing in this commercial space and that is exactly what the Foundation’s ICT in Agriculture programme is addressing.

Implemented in partnership with UN Women and South African Women in Farming (SAWIF), the programme introduces women farmers to technology enabling them to communicate with one another, access information about the farming value chain, financial solutions and potential buyers.

The programme has two phases – appropriate digital literacy training for the female farmers and introduction of the Connected Farmer App. Since launching in 2018 with a Vodacom investment of R6.3 million, the programme has had more than 3279 farmers have been trained on digital literacy. Using the Connected Farmer app, 11 fieldworkers were trained, enabling them to register and accurately profile the women farms.

Youth Development Programme

Launched in 2017, the programme recruits young unemployed graduates to volunteer for a year. The volunteers are recruited from the Vodacom Youth Academy programme and placed at Vodacom supported Non Profit Organisations (NPOs), Schools of Excellence, and Teacher Centres. The purpose of the placements is to transfer ICT skills to NPOs, educators and learners, to increase the digital literacy among these stakeholders and the school population.

Virtual Volunteering

More than 2 300 employees are registered on the Connect for Good platform, which manages all volunteering elements for various large corporates including Vodacom. In July 2020 after a volunteering Fireside chat with the Group CEO, there were 387 new registrations, the highest number across all the corporates using the platform.

There are 21 verified NPOs registered on the platform giving employees the opportunity to choose how they could lend a hand either through giving of their time and skills and or financially.

In April 2020, we launched a virtual volunteering programme which has since seen 159 employees assisting NPOs and ECDs with various skills ranging from digital to business and financial. Fourty employees are tutoring 40 Grade 11 and 12 learners in Maths, Science and other subjects with the Foundation providing data for the learners.

Payroll Giving

Launched in 2010, the initiative is a donations mechanism for employees to give any amount of their choice deducted from their salary monthly and paid directly to their chosen charity. The Foundation matches contributions with 50c for every R1. Since 2016, employees have contributed more than R400 000 every year.

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