As we settle into South Africa’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown, the Old Mutual Covid-19 Response Team has not been idle. Along with all established and resourceful institutions in the private sector, we have responded to the call, and are deeply involved in both immediate and long-term relief efforts.
Just before the start of the lockdown, the company pledged R50 million toward the curb of the epidemic. Funds will support a multi-pronged approach that includes
- food security
- hygiene support
- employee volunteerism and
- cyber safety.
For hygiene support, Old Mutual has partnered with the Imbumba Foundation and its Soap4Hope campaign, distributing soap and other hygiene products to vulnerable communities across the country. The programme also disseminates knowledge and hygiene protocols, so that no community is left behind in our collective efforts to ‘flatten the curve’.
For food security, Old Mutual has partnered with the Department of Basic Education and various NGOs to provide nutrition to thousands of children who are not able to access school feeding schemes as a result of the lockdown. Food parcels are collected by one family member only once during the lockdown period to maintain social distancing.
For e-learning Old Mutual’s has partnered with the Department of Basic Education to deliver high-quality digital e-learning materials to both teachers and scholars so that learning during the lockdown is not hampered. In Mpumalanga we have already seen learning content broadcast on community radio stations such as Ikwekwezi, Ligwalagwala, Radio Pulpit, Rise fm, and others. In addition, a print version of all materials is available for those who have no access to digital platforms.
Old Mutual’s employee volunteerism is one of the largest payroll giving schemes in South Africa. An initial contribution of R2 million from the Staff Volunteer programme has already been committed, with further support expected from thousands of employees in the coming weeks. Funds are being directed to orphans and vulnerable children, Early learning Centres and the elderly.
Old Mutual’s cyber security initiative is designed to inform and protect social media users, especially the young, who are vulnerable to the ever-present reality of cyber bullying, misinformation and the predatory behaviour of abusers.
The Old Mutual Covid-19 team is driven by the head of the Old Mutual Foundation, Fikile Kuhlase, Corporate Affairs and Responsible Business Director, Maserame Mouyene and OM’s Education Flagship Project Director, Khanyisa Diamond. Together, they are tasked with managing, monitoring and reporting on the comprehensive Covid-19 response drive.
Some of the responses already pouring in testify to the effectiveness of Old Mutual’s efforts, in partnership with many others. Fikile Kuhlase mentions a Whats App sent to the Old Mutual Covid-19 response team that simply says:
‘I am just in awe that you left your family to bring us these soaps. I just wanted to thank you again. South Africa needs more people like you. I will ask the social workers to let you know when we need more. God bless you.’
Indeed, there are many working behind the scenes to ensure that all South Africans stand a chance of remaining safe and healthy during this critical time.
Business South Africa has committed just under R5 billion to the Cocod-19 response, with organisations such as The Motsepe Foundation and the Rupert Foundation contributing R1 billion each, and Naspers contributing R1.5 billion.
The private sector is going all out to ensure a comprehensive, well-informed and targeted response. What remains is for all ordinary people to heed the call and do what may feel counter-intuitive in a time of crisis – to simply stay home and practise scrupulous hygiene before and after any essential trips out. Old Mutual has the resources, the network and the teams to do its part. When we all do what is required of us, we create a successful national response – one that will lower the rate of infection and preserve both lives and our economy. Please visit #OMCOVID-19 on Twitter for the ongoing conversation and to contribute anything you think that will aid in the fight against Covid-19. Also email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the Old Mutual Covid-19 Response Team activities.