You will be in for a big surprise if you thought that Tshikululu Social Investments (TSI) is a small company! This company has managed more than R900 000 000 as a social impact partner according to their 2021 Social Report despite the fact that their permanent staff is less than 60 people …
You can’t help but realise that this 24 year old company means serious business when it comes to changing society for the better. Amongst their partners are the First Rand Foundation, DSV Empowerment Trust, GBVF Response Fund, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Discovery, BMW, First for Woman, Netflix and many, many more. Since Covid-19 they also partnered up with the Solidarity Response Fund and managed the implementation of several of programmes for the fund.
TSI sees itself as an agent of social change. British sociologist, Anthony Giddens, refers to agency as the capacity to create social change; the term agents of change describes individuals or organisations who can effect this change. But, social impact projects and social change takes time and the TSI-team knows this. Tshikululu’s website describes their activities as ‘end-to-end fund management’ and hence, it includes concept development to securing funding, stratedy development to implementation of programmes, mentoring to reporting and also impact assessments and evaluations – Tshikululu are part of that whole process and Mihlali Mzima confirms this by saying, “I think that is the value we carry through in all the work that we do. You know, during Covid-19, many of our clients looked towards working with emergency relief. Even in those instances we could see the impact of what they were doing and what they were able to bring into those communities where people were really destitute and desparate for any type of help.”
In its very essence Tshikululu Social Investments is a fund management company for different corporates, private sector stakeholders and public sector stakeholders who aim at contributing to social investments. They work across different business service lines, including education, from ECD to teriary education. Their involvement further covers capacity building, community strengthening, youth development, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, emergency relief and even student bursaries. Clearly Tshikululu do projects across the spectrum, but it depends on the strategy of the client. Take their work with the GBVF Response Fund in the fight against gender based violence as an example. The implementation of programmes is under Me. Mzima’s management and they work together with programme partners in urban areas as well as the most rural regions of South Africa. Mihlali proudly says that “it was part of the strategy of the client – the client wanted to reach communities where there typically would not be funders channeling investments towards that communities. We really tried to touch every community in the country over the last 24 years.”
Long-term partnerships are more beneficial for both parties and when Tshikululu opened their doors in 1998 they had Anglo American on board as a funding partner. People who were previously employed by the mining giant started this social investment company and they still have a solid working-relationship with Anglo American. Mihlali underlines the importance of relations and says that “we hope to build relations with every client that we touched. One of our values is excellence and we put that forward in everything we do, whether you come with R500,000 or R60 million, you will get the same type of effort from our funder team, because we do recognise that those relationships are what foster change. It is always important that you deliver the best work that you possibly can for each project that you touch. And that is what led to the long-term relationships that we have and the sustainability of the company which has also enabled us to change with the times.” Covid-19 forced Tshikululu to think clearly about the effect of the pandemic on the company, the way they went about their business and how programmes were managed. The organisation realised that there was scope for further development in their advisory department. They have grown their advisory portfolio exponentially over the last two years and endless opportunities were revealed.
Mihlali gives voice to the work done by Tshikululu and remarks that “… if you really are committed to contributing positively to the world and doing it in an impactful way, maximizing whatever change you are looking to create, you really can change the lives of people and transform communities. It really is a concerted effort and a commitment to maximizing that change.”