Eight-year-old orphan Lindelwa Shiba
playing in front of what used to be her
grandmother’s shack. The family now
have a brick house with the help of Sasix.
A new social development project that encourages companies to invest in carefully selected projects has been shortlisted for the Global Development Network’s (GDN) prestigious Most Innovative Development Project award.
The initiative, the South African Social Investment Exchange (Sasix), is one of three international finalists currently in the running for the award. The project carries the full backing of its parent affiliation, GreaterGood SA.
Carol Tappenden, managing director of GreaterGood SA, says the award is reassurance that they are on the right track.
“We are thrilled that the innovation of Sasix, as a platform for meaningful social investment and development, is being recognised at a global level,” she says.
How does Sasix work?
Sasix is a uniquely South African concept that connects corporate social investors with the development world. It highlights and evaluates projects in priority development sectors for corporate and individual donors to invest in.
Instead of financial gain, however, the projects are rewarded with socially responsible solutions.
To ensure its sustainability and viability, the due diligence and thorough assessment is applied to financial investments and the considered developmental projects.
This, according to GreaterGood SA, raises the bar for public, corporate and civil societies interested in elevating South Africa’s social development.
Selected projects range from helping poor communities to care for Aids orphans in KwaZulu-Natal to offering business skills training for crafters on the fringes of the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga.
The programme also helps balance the scales to give lesser-known organisations the same access to funds and capacity development as the better-known social development causes.
Tappenden says Sasix was created with a specific strategy in mind.
“When we created Sasix in June 2006, we wanted to move corporate and individual donors from a compliance mentality of ‘tick-box’ or ‘feel-good’ giving to a more strategic and measured approach to tackling the challenges we face in South Africa.”
So far, the project has delivered impressive success stories. Some R13.5-million (US$3.5-million) has been invested in 53 social development projects countrywide.
The success of Sasix has led to the global expansion of the programme, known as the Global Social Investment Exchange.
The programme will enable, for example, a businessman in Portugal to invest in assessed and evaluated development projects in Kenya or Mexico.
The global exchange will be regulated by a federation of social exchanges and supported by in-depth intelligence from country exchanges.
Receiving world wide recognition
The Japanese Award for the Most Innovative Development Project award that Sasix is vying for is part of GDN’s 10th annual Global Development Conference to be held in Kuwait City, Kuwait on 3 February.
This year, the conference will be held under the auspices of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. The winning initiative will be rewarded with a financial boost of $30 000 (R300 000).
The runners-up will each receive a $5 000 (R51 000) cheque.
Sophie Hobbs, GreaterGood SA’s communication manager, says if they are successful in winning the award, it will bring a great deal of prestige and recognition to the organisation.
“The GDN’s Global Development Awards and Medals competition is the largest international competition for research on development, and will expose us to a range of international development practitioners and potential investors and funders.”
The GDN is recognised as a worldwide leader in identifying and researching causes in need of development. In addition it carries a substantial reputation for successful implementation and application of its policies.
The judging panel is looking for a project that embodies innovation, social impact and the potential for broad application in other countries.
After an initial assessment by the GDN’s secretariat, the submissions are reviewed by an independent evaluator.
The selection process includes on-site visits to the shortlisted projects. This year’s three finalists were announced on 30 December 2008.
The GDN awards were established in 2000 as a unique competition for promoting research on development projects.
Japan’s government has been instrumental in supporting the competition, which, according to the organisers, seeks to unearth new talent while pooling various ideas all geared toward building a better global community.
Since its inception, almost 4 300 researchers representing more than 100 countries around the world, most developing countries, have participated in the competition.
Almost $2-million (R20-million) has been distributed in prizes and travel to finalists and winners. In 2007 the competition attracted more than 600 applications.
Doing good for South Africa
GreaterGood SA is the country’s first online social marketplace for the everyday philanthropist.
It’s a platform where socially conscious individuals and groups can find, connect and actively participate in a number of initiatives in dire need of assistance. These range from tackling South Africa’s debilitating HIV/Aids pandemic to merely providing basic needs for infants and children in disadvantaged communities.
According to its website, the organisation unites good causes and committed givers in meaningful and innovative ways to build a better, more socially aware South Africa.
GreaterGood SA believes in results-driven giving as well as seeking out opportunities that will have a measurable, life-changing impact on people and their local communities.
During its first three years, the organisation has registered over 1 000 organisations on their website, raised R9.5-million ($950 000) for needy causes, has amassed 21 000 hours of volunteer skills and time and has facilitated the distribution of 250 000 second hand or surplus goods.
- Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at Khanyim@mediaclubsouthafrica.com