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Established in 1998, the FirstRand Foundation is the legal vehicle through which FirstRand Ltd. and its major brands (First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, and WesBank) direct their individual and collective corporate social investment (Social Investment).
The Foundation is the embodiment of FirstRand’s belief that corporations have a responsibility – beyond creating jobs and paying taxes – to contribute to the social and economic upliftment of all South Africans.
The Foundation does this through strategic, measurable Social Investment given in the name of its major brands and the parent group.
Focus is placed on ensuring that the budget of the Foundation is targeted in the most effective way possible, and that real impact is realised across programmes.
There is a willingness to take considered risks in backing high-potential projects, but also a sensitivity to the changing fortunes of established partners and programmes.
The Foundation prides itself as a learning organisation, which understands “development” as a complex and long-term issue, immune to easy solutions or quick fixes.
Within the FirstRand Foundation, there are three Fund committees associated with the group’s major brands: First National Bank Fund, Rand Merchant Bank Fund and WesBank Fund. Further information and detail on the focus areas of these Funds can be found using the links below.
In addition to the various programmes supported by the Funds, the Foundation supports three specific programmes in the name of FirstRand.
FirstRand Foundation Maths Education Chairs Initiative
This innovative initiative is the flagship programme of the Foundation, which represents a long-term commitment to generating research and influencing policy in partnership with government. It consists of two separate components: the FirstRand Foundation South African Maths Education Chairs (jointly funded by the Foundation, Department of Science and Technology [DST], and the RMB Fund), and the South African Numeracy Chairs (jointly funded by the Foundation, the DST, and the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund).
The initiative is an intervention in mathematics education in South Africa. The vision is for the Chairs to serve as beacons of excellence by initiating and co-ordinating teacher education and research projects that focus on improving the quality of mathematics teaching and learning. The initiative intends to use the existing experience and expertise of the selected Chairs to address the crisis that exists in mathematics education in South Africa. It has four interrelated objectives:
- To improve the quality of teaching of in-service mathematics teachers at primary and secondary schools
- To improve learner performance in primary schools and the mathematics results (pass rates and quality of passes) in secondary schools as a result of quality teaching and learning
- To research sustainable and practical solutions to the challenges of numeracy and mathematics in schools
- To provide leadership in numeracy and mathematics education and increase the dialogue around solutions for the mathematics education crisis
FirstRand Laurie Dippenaar and Momentum Dippenaar Scholarship Programme
The Foundation provides scholarship funding through the FirstRand Laurie Dippenaar Scholarship and the Momentum Dippenaar Scholarship programmes. The objective of these programmes is to award exceptional South African students the opportunity to pursue a postgraduate degree at an overseas university of their choice. The scholarship is based entirely on merit, and is awarded to candidates who have the potential to be “destiny changers”. The only requirement of the successful candidates is that they return to South Africa after their studies in order to use what they have learned for the betterment of South African society. For further information on this programme, please click here.
KhulaSangam (a combination of isiZulu and Hindi, which is very roughly translated as “growing by coming together”) aims to address the critical skills shortage that exists in South Africa by bridging the gap between tertiary education and “employability”. It exposes unemployed South African youth graduates to Indian business, community development and society through extended international internships. By participating in the programme, these youth benefit in a variety of ways, including:
- Work experience with leading companies in strategic sectors
- Exposure to international travel and culture
- Exposure to high-impact, youth-led community development projects
- Training on professionalism, personal development and leadership
- Increased employability back in South Africa
Fund pages for associated FirstRand companies can be found below:
The FirstRand Foundation believes that corporate social investment (Social Investment) is a neutral and collaborative space. We understand that in order to positively impact society, corporates and other stakeholders should work together to determine, adopt and spread best practice in social development. With this in mind, the Foundation makes publically available its programme strategy documents, evaluations and other reports of value. By sharing such documents, we hope to spread good practice in Social Investment and social programming, as well as influence other corporates to do the same.
To access the Foundation’s documents, please click here.
In addition to sharing our strategy and evaluation documents, FirstRand Limited supports the “Social Investment that Works” campaign. This is an additional knowledge sharing initiative that aims to provide detailed information about various issues that are critical to South Africa’s development, as well as expose the good work of non-profit organisations implementing programmes around the country. The primary target audience of the campaign is other donors. The campaign consists of in-depth research into areas of interest, the publishing of research papers on these areas and the hosting of breakfast events by Sizwe Nxasana, CEO of FirstRand and Chairman of the Foundation. There are generally three research papers and breakfasts each year.
To access these research papers and learn more about the campaign, please click here.