In a year marked by political unrest and ongoing COVID-19 disruption, one of SA’s leading insurance companies put back R8 million in 2021 into communities, bringing relief to many.
The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is quoted as saying: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” In the spirit of Tutu’s words, Old Mutual Insure continued its support of a number of initiatives in 2021, spending over R8 million on communities in need.
“We feel passionately about uplifting socio-economic conditions in South Africa, despite the hunger and poverty exacerbated by the pandemic, so that the communities where our staff and customers work really feel a difference to their everyday lives,” says Antonia Oakes, Executive of Responsible Business at Old Mutual Insure.
A wide range of communities benefitted from the R8 million that Old Mutual Insure invested in initiatives, including restocking 10 township spaza shops in KwaZulu-Natal affected by the looting in July, delivering 500 food parcels and 90 blankets to people in need and enabling farmers in the Free State to fight fires using specialised fire blowers.
“In addition, we partnered with Reach for a Dream to help children with life threatening illnesses. Specifically, our support is enabling a Dream Room to be built for kids in Lambano Sanctuary, Edenvale, in 2022, which will be a safe, uplifting, and inspiring space, promoting healing for ill children,” says Oakes.
Old Mutual Insure also has a long-standing relationship with Gift of the Givers to assist when disaster strikes. The company provided food and shelter to those impacted by the floods in George in December 2021, and donated animal feed to farmers in the North West affected by wildfires during the year.
A particular focus area for Old Mutual Insure now and last year is youth and education.
“One of our main goals is to equip our children with skills critical to achieving sustainable development and economic growth in South Africa,” explains Oakes.
In collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Old Mutual Insure sponsored 135 portable school desks in 2021, which is part of the MiDesk Global initiative, providing underprivileged children who don’t have desks with the ability to attend schools with portable desks. The desk and chair can be wheeled to and from school, has a solar light and USB charging portal to provide light after hours.
“Not having access to adequate facilities, like desks, chairs and lighting, strongly impacts on a learner’s ability to focus, maintain discipline, and to be successful in their studies. It has also been linked to a higher rate of absenteeism, which is why we knew we needed to get involved in this project,” says Oakes.
CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Konehali Gugushe, says the organisation is grateful for the donation, which is benefitting children across the country. “This is an honour for our organisation as it advances and promotes education for young people.”
Looking ahead, Oakes says that initiatives in 2022 will continue to focus on empowering young people and uplifting schools. “Our Empowering Girls programme has selected 20 Grade 11 girls with the aim of creating a pipeline of female talent for the insurance industry,” she says.
The Old Mutual Insure Empowering Girls programme launched on 17 February 2022 and is an exciting programme that will see the company offering schoolgirls appropriate opportunities to support their professional and personal advancement through relevant life skills, ICT literacy, mentorship and job shadowing programmes.
The multi-year programme will not only see the girls immersed in the non-life insurance industry and getting exposed to various careers but will also have the additional benefit of identifying talented girls from underprivileged areas to be the future face of the insurance industry.
In addition, Old Mutual Insure wants to assist a number of schools that don’t have access to water by digging boreholes. “Water is essential in schools both in terms of hygiene and for the sustainability of school gardens that serve many pupils and their families. It is also a scarce resource in provinces that have suffered from debilitating drought in the last few years,” concludes Oakes.