Business and Charity – two sides of the same coin?


Marc Lubner | CEO | Afrika Tikkunmail me |

Both have a role in reducing unemployment and contributing to a sustainable society.

Back in May, columnist Mpumelelo Mkhabela implored President Cyril Ramaphosa to ‘make job creators the most important people in the country’. In his piece, Mkhabela called unemployment a ‘national emergency’, and begs that the entire country – especially those in government departments – cultivate a mindset that focuses on the importance of job creation.

Ramaphosa himself has indicated that his eyes are wide open to this necessity, especially where South Africa’s youth are concerned. In his inaugural speech, he noted that job creation for the youth is one of government’s highest priorities, and indicated government’s willingness to partner with corporate South Africa to make this a reality. He further stated that the Fourth Industrial Revolution presented an ideal platform for relaunching Africa’s development, and should act as a lever for job creation.

And yet, how far have we come in the attainment of these lofty goals? Sadly, little progress has been made. The reasons for this are many, varied and, of course, complex – but I believe that one of the key issues here is that neither government nor the private sector is fully exploiting the options available to them.

Meeting the needs

Afrika Tikkun is a case in point. Since 1994, this organisation has been acting to meet the needs of marginalised South Africans.

In this, we haven’t changed: our focus remains very much on meeting needs. However, our scope is now far more clearly defined. With youth unemployment as the major obstacle in our path to future economic wellbeing, this is our most compelling area of concern – but by meeting the needs of the youth, we are in fact seeing to the needs of all South Africans.

A commercial approach

That said, Afrika Tikkun’s approach is vastly different from other entities striving to empower their constituents. We see ourselves not as a charitable organisation, but as a business operating in the CSI space.

Cradle to career

Indeed, every aspect of the organisation – from our operations to structure – is aligned to business. Consequently, Afrika Tikkun is finely attuned to the needs of corporate South Africa, and is able to fulfil those needs by virtue of our 360˚ Cradle to Career model.

This is a unique process that hinges on empowering the individual within their family context. As a result, we don’t only aim to impart skills we believe will be of use when a child is finally ready to enter the job market. We also undertake initiatives related to education, personal development, nutrition, health and work placement, so that our graduates are just as workplace ready as those who have recently received qualifications from South Africa’s most esteemed tertiary establishments. Thanks to our inputs at pre-school and after school, as well as career counselling, our graduates are well-versed in their strengths and how to harness them, especially in industries where they are well suited.

But this is just one aspect of our services, and a small part of what makes us the ultimate partner in job creation. We are also positioned to help companies achieve their transformation and social impact goals, firstly by providing equity ownership to corporates seeking a partner in Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment. Meanwhile, the many components of our Cradle to Career model presents a plethora of opportunities for companies seeking an impactful Socio-Economic Development Solution.

Enterprise development

Our enterprise, Afrika Tikkun Services, was established to answer the needs of enterprise development by accelerating the placement of Afrika Tikkun graduates into entry-level positions like internships with aligned skills development and training.

Skills development

Finally, our experience in skills development makes it possible to develop similar programmes for clients, with a special accent on work experience and placement.

It all adds up to a virtuous circle that stands to have a significant impact on unemployment and one that Absa has seized and made an integral part of their Ready to Work programme that provides skills development to young people to help them discover a successful career path.

Then, and now

These offerings are vastly different from those that were available when Afrika Tikkun was first established by then Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris and my later father, Bertie Lubner – but, then again, the needs of the country were different, too.

We believe that our focus on corporate requirements will drive us forward, as we’re working to the benefit of all involved: our beneficiaries, our corporate partners and, of course, the organisation itself. Our model represents the kind of collaborative effort that South Africa must embrace, and perhaps contains an important message for other charitable initiatives: how different would things be if we considered the needs of the country, before our own needs?

We’re looking forward to seeing more stakeholders benefit from our 360˚ model by sourcing their next pool of young recruits – more beneficiaries, of course, and more corporates, too. In this, we welcome partnerships of all sorts, but especially those where we all stand to reap rewards. Organisations like Business Leadership South Africa, which have corporate muscle that could put our skills training to good use in a broad scale, replicable manner, have a particular role to play.

More than ever, it’s not about approaching the world with a hand out. It’s about approaching the world, ready to give a hand up.



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