Staff volunteerism is embedded in the culture of African Bank. In fact, it is at the top of the list when employees are evaluated based on the company’s KPIs (key performance indicators).
‘As an organisation, we don’t function only for ourselves and for our own benefit. We realise how important it is to make an impact in our communities, and we use our skills and our human capital to make a difference,’ explains Kennedy Dembetembe, Head of CSI at African Bank.
For the last two years, African Bank has been working with the ForGood programme, a volunteering and donations platform that allows employees to support various NGOs and a wide range of causes. This means that employees have full control over how they use their skills, talents, time, and resources. ‘They can choose whether they want to support organisations that help children, animals, or whatever else. Supporting organisations that they are passionate about really is the key to getting everyone involved.’
During Covid-19’s hard lockdown, getting out physically to make a difference was a little trickier. However, ForGood allowed staff to become virtual participants. They could still help out from the comfort of their own homes. Virtual initiatives would include, for example, reading stories to kids online, or participating in virtual workshops that taught employees how to make educational toys from household items such as empty milk bottles.
African Bank and their employees do not have to spend hours researching NGOs and causes, because the ForGood platform does all the hard work for them.
‘They screen the organisations before featuring them on their platform, which ensures that our employees support worthwhile causes. The platform really simplifies the whole process of volunteering, and we are also able to track and evaluate our employees’ involvement,’ explains Dembetembe.
Individual do-good activities fall outside of working hours, but each department at African Bank also allows for team days, where staff work together on a range of projects. ‘During team days, we usually see a tremendous change in our staff. They get out of their own bubble and experience how other people live, and this is often the catalyst they need to start making a difference,’ says Dembetembe. Team activities have taken a back seat since the Covid-19 outbreak, but there are plans to resume them as soon as possible.
‘We once went to a childcare centre, and on our way there, everyone was cheerful. When we came back, we were all sombre. However, the experience ignited a spark of goodwill, and soon employees took their own initiative to organise a donation drive in order to buy a fridge and a stove for this centre. They also supported the centre with monthly contributions.’
On another occasion, Dembetembe and his team visited a childcare centre in Tembisa. ‘That day, we noticed that the vegetable tunnel in their garden was falling apart. One employee’s spouse owned a greenhouse business, and they were able to supply all the materials that this school needed to get their vegetable tunnel up and running again. It made a major difference, because then the school was able to feed their kids directly from their garden.
‘Staff volunteerism is not simply a way to make us feel good about ourselves or to feel that we are somehow making a difference. Doing good changes people, and ultimately changes our communities, because the more people who want to do good, the greater the impact.’