SA Inc invests for change: Sanlam Investments, Nedbank and MTN-WWF

Investing in a better tomorrow. File

Investing in a better tomorrow. File

Published Dec 10, 2023


SA Inc is looking at how to transform its footprint through sustainable and green investments. Three companies this week inked deals of change:

Sanlam Investments: reaffirmed its commitment to sustainable investing through a new R46 million sustainable infrastructure deal.

The Sanlam Investments Sustainable Infrastructure Fund is funding a portion of the joint venture (JV) between Alien Fuel Group and Sappi in Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal, known as Mkomazi Alienfuel (MAF).

This project will provide crucial baseload renewable energy derived from biomass to Sappi’s dissolving pulp manufacturing plant in Umkomaas, one of the largest of its kind in the southern Hemisphere, where Sappi currently employs approximately 1 500 employees.

Dissolving pulp is derived from cellulose from wood fibre and is used in the manufacturing of textiles, household, industrial and pharmaceutical applications including acetates, washing sponges and non-woven fabrics.

The project focuses on converting biomass waste, such as sawdust, knots, and bark left behind in the dissolving pulp manufacturing process, into high-calorific-value wood pellets.

These wood pellets replace fossil fuels (such as paraffin, diesel and coal) in industrial boilers and burners for the generation of electricity, steam and heat.

The collaboration with Sappi at Saiccor Mill will lead to the establishment of a roughly R80m waste-to-energy plant, creating a sustainable source of electricity and steam from wood pellets. Sappi will provide the raw material and has committed to purchasing the wood pellets as part of an initial five-year contract.

The Sustainable Infrastructure Fund was launched in September 2021 with an initial commitment of R500m from Sanlam and plans to raise a further R5 billion to invest in local projects that foster economic growth, market development and job creation while delivering inflation-beating returns.

Pawan Singh, the portfolio manager for the fund, said: “The joint venture with Sappi will create new job opportunities for the community, boost the local economy and promote sustainable business practices.”

Nedbank: set up its Green Economy Fund with an initial capital of R10m.

Poovi Pillay, executive head of corporate social investment at Nedbank, announced the fund at the recent Nedbank Green Indaba.

He said the fund was intended to provide funding for up to 100 start-ups in the waste, water, energy and agricultural sectors – the four sectors targeted by Nedbank’s Green Economy Strategy to create sustainable jobs and build wealth while furthering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Too many start-ups fail to last more than a year, and one of the main reasons is that they are not eligible to receive finance via conventional funding models.

“Our fund has been created specifically to provide this vital lifeline to enable more green-economy SMEs to survive until they are ready for conventional funding,” Pillay said.


Building on the success of an initiative in Zambia to encourage young people to come up with ideas to address unsustainable environmental practices, the MTN Group and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) this week announced the Africa PachiPanda Challenge.

This extends the organisations’ joint initiative to four more countries on the continent.

The Challenge will now expand to include Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, and will be open to applications from young people (aged 16 to 35) and youth-led SMEs with early-stage or idea-stage solutions to the environmental challenges presented.

MTN said the Africa PachiPanda Challenge, which is set to be launched in 2024, was more than a competition – it is a platform for change. It aims to inspire participants to think beyond conventional boundaries, develop solutions that address immediate challenges, and contribute to the long-term sustainability of their communities.