Tshikululu turns fifteen

30 July 2013 | Opinion

Tshikululu’s history extends much further back than our formation. We have records dating back to the late 1800s when De Beers started its first social investments in communities around Kimberley.

Years later the initiatives of both Anglo American and De Beers were combined under what was then known as the Anglo American and De Beers Chairman’s Fund.

This was the first formalised, corporate social investment unit established in South Africa, and continues to reflect the ethos of the founder of Anglo American, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, who stated in 1954 that ‘… the purpose of the company is to make profits for its shareholders, but to do so in a way that makes a real and lasting contribution to the countries and communities in which it operates’.

In December 1997 Anglo American and De Beers announced an extensive restructuring, making De Beers fully independent of Anglo American’s management structures.

This restructuring resulted in a separation of all shared services, including the Anglo American and De Beers Chairman’s Fund, the management of which would now be outsourced to an operation consisting of a handful of bright-eyed young things.

When we were contemplating the establishment of Tshikululu the staff rallied around to come up with a name for this new entity.

It was Nelson Mukone, an ex-filing clerk, who came up with our name, which is derived from the Venda name for the African Rock Fig, a tree known for its rock splitting qualities.

In the same way that that this tree grows in harsh environments, Tshikululu manages and supports development initiatives in difficult circumstances that bring new life into challenging circumstances.

When we started off 15 years ago we had 11 staff members. This has now grown to 70, excluding a number of contractors.

We have received over 60 000 applications – 4 000 per annum, each of which has been logged, reviewed and responded to.

Of the 60 000 applications, 20 000 grants (totalling in excess of R3.5 billion – that is not converted to current rand value) have been awarded to projects spanning all spheres of development from early childhood development, primary health care, skills development, support for the environment, and cutting-edge research.

We have processed in excess of 50 000 payments, and over the years we have refined our controls and risk management to ensure that every year we publish unqualified audits for Tshikululu and the funds under our management. This year we will produce another 20 unqualified audits.

We have expanded our client base from four founding clients to 30 annuity and consulting clients. Grantmaking this year is forecast to reach R350 million and the reach of our consulting work impacts on grantmaking of close on R1 billion.

As we celebrate 15 years of excellence in our field, we are humbly reminded of what still needs to be done. We can never be complacent. The social investment landscape continues to evolve. Our clients demand greater value for money, our clients’ business strategies are changing, and the communities in which we operate seek transformational change that touches their lives in tangible ways.

And on that note I would like to propose that we raise our metaphorical glasses to a prosperous future for Tshikululu and for our county.