Go MAD, Go Green: Absa

25 October 2011 Absa

Absa’s Make a Difference (MAD) campaign started last Friday and will run until 5 November. The focus this year is simple but significant as the bank partners with schools countrywide to plant trees.

Environmental issues have moved from the sidelines to take centre stage in the business world. As such, Absa is engaging communities on environmental sustainability through this year’s “Make A Difference” (MAD) initiative.

Absa’s 2011 MAD campaign will therefore include tree planting at 37 selected schools countrywide, school ground clean ups and the expansion of existing food garden projects in partnership with Food and Trees for Africa, a Non-Governmental Organisation.

With the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP17) Summit in Kwa-Zulu Natal next month, Absa’s focus on environmental sustainability is even more relevant. The Group will be consolidating and expanding initiatives which were started years ago.

“Absa believes that planting trees is one of the most practical ways of preserving South Africa's natural heritage and therefore, it is critical that we optimise environmental awareness in all our communities, especially among children,” says Mihloti Mathye, Corporate Social Investment (CSI) General Manager at Absa.

The MAD initiative seeks to encourage people, especially Absa employees, to give their time to volunteer and deliver a positive impact on their local communities. Absa is mobilising over 2000 employees to visit the selected schools across the country as part of the campaign. Employees will also educate learners about environmental sustainability.

The thirty-seven schools identified are part of Eduplant programme, an initiative that educates and trains school children together with teachers and their communities to protect and improve environment through food production for improved health and nutrition, using permaculture techniques.

Says Mathye: “ Through food gardens there has been more collaboration and integrated development between communities and schools and more children are now getting at least one guaranteed plate of food a day.”

Absa’s commitment to environmental sustainability is not limited to its corporate social initiatives only - it also extends to its infrastructure and product and service offerings only. The MAD initiative complements other environmental sustainability projects that the Group has undertaken in the bank’s efforts to promote environmental sustainability.

Absa Towers West, an eco-friendly head office building in central Johannesburg, has been built in line with the South Africa’s Green codes. Key among the green building elements is the gas-powered energy centre that contributes immensely to reducing environmental impact. Through the energy centre and other green elements, Absa will reduce its carbon dioxide emission by an estimated 19 000 tons a year.

In August 2011, Absa launched the Absa Green Vehicle Finance offering which is an environmentally conscious vehicle finance solution. This initiative makes Absa the first South African auto-financier to offer customers rebates of up to 0.75% (in addition to the normal individualised pricing they would have enjoyed) when clients purchase passenger vehicles with a carbon output of less than 120g/km.

Customers will enjoy a 0.25% interest rate concession for any vehicle chosen with a carbon output of less than 120g/km and a 0.75% rebate for any car with an output below 100g/km. Additionally, for each vehicle sold, a tree will be planted free of charge on behalf of the customer by Absa.

Additionally, electronic bank statement (e-Statement) usage has jumped considerably, and adoption rates among Absa customers reached a million registered accounts last month. Invariably, this substantially reduces the use of paper, with positive implications for the environment.

“All of these indicate that Absa boasts a proud record of environmental sustainability initiatives. Making this important issue the focus of our MAD campaign therefore makes a great deal of sense,” emphasises Mathye.

Absa recognises that the future sustainability of communities and business is critical for economic development. The Group is therefore committed to sustainable corporate social investment initiatives that truly make a lasting difference.

In late November, the COP17 will further highlight the importance of environmental sustainability.

“The challenge for us as individuals and as a business is to work together to nurture and protect our environment today in order to enable a sustainable tomorrow for future generations,”concludes Mathye.

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