2020 and beyond: Sanlam to continue investing heavily in South African communities

09 December 2019 Sanlam
Sydney Mbhele, CEO of Sanlam Brand

Sydney Mbhele, CEO of Sanlam Brand

Africa’s largest financial services group, Sanlam, has invested R540-million into communities in South Africa over the past decade, the third biggest corporate social investment (CSI) by a business in South Africa.

It has invested R3.5-billion in black economic empowerment deals to date and every year 450 000 children benefit from Sanlam’s literacy projects.

The group believes firmly in the role corporates can – and should - play in uplifting the country’s economy and its people. It is looking forward to doing a lot more good as we enter the ‘20s’ and believes positivity will be key to securing a great future for our nation.

Sydney Mbhele, CEO of Sanlam Brand – who joined the group early in 2019 – says while there have been setbacks over the past few years, the lives of countless South Africans have been improved since 1994, many through corporate social investment activities.

“Unfortunately, the narrative in South Africa is often very negative. But at Sanlam, we retain our optimism and fresh focus as we greet the new decade. We see it as a time to redouble our efforts across the board. We truly believe that every life touched through a CSI project or empowerment initiatives or through initiatives which foster economic growth, has made South Africa a better place.”

CSI consultancy, Trialogue reports that around R10.2 billion was spent on corporate social responsibility (CSI) in South Africa in 2019 alone. This is up 5% from 2018 (R9.7 billion). Encouragingly, Trialogue reports that 94% of companies focused CSI efforts on education, with half of the collective spend going towards programmes and initiatives aimed at improving education levels.

Mbhele says it is wonderful to see South African companies increasing their investment in CSI, “This despite a subdued economy and market underperformance. Corporate South Africa remains a fundamental contributor to social impact and now more than ever, CSI investment strategies need to target the disenfranchised in meaningful ways.” Even as a Level 1 contributor from a B-BBEE perspective, for Sanlam, it’s not about compliance but about changing people’s lives for the better.

Mbhele believes there needs to be a rallying cry for businesses to be bastions of social good and enforcers of positive change. “We need to do what we can to re-anchor ourselves; to appreciate what we have while coming up with real solves to the challenges South Africans face. In 1994, we negotiated a new South Africa. Since then, there are many times we’ve come together to move this country to the next level of growth. There has never been a better time to do this.”

Turning to specifics, Mbhele says Sanlam is firmly focused on education – giving people the tools to help themselves. “Literacy remains a critical concern for our country’s youth and as big business, we need to continue our efforts at addressing this hands-on. Maths literacy is a key part of this because a nation that is proficient in maths literacy, is better equipped to economically prosper,” says Mbhele. Sanlam Foundation benefits nearly half a million children each year through literacy projects that also capacitate teachers.

2020 represents a great time to recalibrate and use our collective power to make a difference in people’s lives and leave lasting legacies.

Quick Polls


ASISA’s lobbying of the SARB to suspend Circular 15, which contained significant changes to foreign exchange controls. What is your take on this accusation?


[a] ASISA was right to seek clarity on Circular 15
[b] Large asset managers are conflicted & will suffer financially if Circular 15 stands
[c] Savers get enough exposure to offshore assets under existing Reg 28
[d] Who cares?
fanews magazine
FAnews November 2020 Get the latest issue of FAnews

This month's headlines

Customer experience in the ‘now’ generation
Is our industry a tainted industry?
How to keep brokers out of the firing line
Getting to grips with contractual versus delictual liability
International trusts and tax consequences
The COVID-19 pandemic and medical schemes
Subscribe now