JOHANNESBURG - A partnership between a JSE-listed chemicals group and rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal, focusing on keeping a river clean and free of alien vegetation, has been declared joint winner of the 2018 Trialogue Strategic CSI award.
Strategic CSI is defined as corporate social investment that has significant developmental impact, as well as a positive impact on the business, beyond reputation.
The AECI Wise Wayz Water Care (WWWC) programme, set up in 2016, has 122 people from the Folweni and Eximbokodweni communities near Durban keeping a 30 km stretch of the eZimbokodweni River catchment area clear and helping rehabilitate a wetland that stretches over about a kilometre.
AECI human capital executive Khosi Matshitse said the company, which has invested R7.5 million in the project, could in turn access cleaner water for the Umbogintwini Industrial Complex, a multi-user site managed by its property division and where a number of its chemicals manufacturing businesses operate.
"We are delighted with this award, which acknowledges the dedication of the community members, as well as AECI’s commitment to environmental sustainability and strengthening its relationships where it operates," Matshitse said.
"This is a model that can be replicated by other businesses too. We hope it will inspire other companies to get involved and make a difference.”
The annual awards have been handed out from 2014 to encourage CSI practitioners to think more strategically when planning and implementing their initiatives, Trialogue MD Nick Rockey said.
“In the case of WWWC, social benefits are skills development, increased employment opportunities, environmental education and safety," he said. "Business benefits are employee engagement, competitive edge and an improved B-BBEE (broad-based black economic empowerment) rating.”
AECI's Matshitse said over 1,830 households had received environmental education and that the KZN project had "built up community pride while promoting a healthier natural environment, with more recycling and less waste being disposed of illegally".
More than 440 people have acquired skills ranging from water safety testing to vegetable production.
Based on their knowledge, the eThekweni municipality has employed 16 WWWC participants. Plans are also underway to establish vegetable farming and poultry agri-businesses.
- African News Agency (ANA)