Clover Mama Afrika project wins top CSI award

The Clover Mama Afrika corporate social investment (CSI) project, which supports and upskills female community leaders nationwide, is the worthy winner of the 2017 Trialogue Strategic CSI Award.

Launched in October 2004, Clover's CSI programme provides training in skills such as cooking, baking, sewing, welding and food gardening. The 'mamas' pass these skills on to others in their communities, and also receive the necessary equipment and infrastructure to create local industry centres, based on their honed skills.

Some 43 mamas have been appointed since the programme inception and 2004 individuals have been trained collectively. By March last year there were 140 income-generating self-help projects and 182 centres including sewing centres (23), bread baking (22) cooking and baking (21) and food gardens (16).

"For CSI to be strategic, it must have a positive developmental impact that is aligned with and contributes to the priorities of the business, beyond reputational impact," said Trialogue MD Nick Rockey. "This award, which we launched in 2014, recognises projects that exemplify best practice."

Professor Elain Vlok, Clover Manager: Corporate Services and the Clover Mama Afrika project, said: "We are delighted to accept this award on behalf of the many hard-working mamas who are making a real difference in their communities, as well as our committed partners who have helped make this project such as success.
"This initiative has fostered a spirit of caring and protection of vulnerable groups, and helped develop and transfer income-generating skills in low-income communities across South Africa."

The judges were Dr Stan Hardman, programme designer at The Leadership Dialogue, who develops and manages specialist programmes in leadership development; and Anthony Wilson-Prangley, who lectures at the Gordon Institute of Business Science on leading social change. Each entry was judged against objectives, social benefits and corporate benefits.

The Clover project's return on investment (ROI) is 116%, comparing initial investment with the income that participants have generated. Over 30 blue chip partners have joined the project, contributing to its success. Site visits are conducted regularly to ensure the smooth running of the centres, and Clover staff have the option of getting involved, helping to boost staff morale and cultivate a sense of community.

"At the obvious level, there is a focus on cooking and baking in which milk is a core ingredient," was the judges' feedback. "At a deeper level, Clover is representative of a vast rural agricultural industry where women have fewer work opportunities than men. Thus the project addresses a gender issue, an economic issue and a social issue in relation to wellbeing realised through participation in enterprises."

The judges also commented on "excellent leveraging to ensure appropriate company benefits in the form of employee engagement, strengthening of client relationships, BEE and brand development."

To find out more about the Clover Mama Afrika project: Entries for the 2018 Trialogue Strategic CSI Award can be submitted from May this year. For more information, email [email protected].