A fully fledged CSI Programme |
Faces of the Foundation |
Eskom is not simply committed to keeping the lights on – we are also focused on lighting up the
lives of people across South Africa and the Eskom Development Foundation is tasked with
implementing Eskom's corporate social investment strategy. A key component of how we measure our
success lies in the value that we add to the lives of South Africans, powering the country's
bright future. The Eskom Development Foundation – a not for profit and wholly owned subsidiary
of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. – ensures that every Rand spent on CSI is used to good effect.
The Foundation is run according to a guiding principle of sustainability, and supports a broad
spectrum of projects in all nine provinces. The programmes that make up the Foundation's CSI
portfolio are run according to the themes of: education, health, environment, enterprise
development, food security, rural education infrastructure development, and social and community
Over the years, the Foundation's continued and consistent commitment to touching the lives of the
people in the communities where they operate has positioned them as one of the leaders in
Many people may presume that the Eskom Development Foundation has always been a feature of the
Eskom landscape but in fact the independent section 21 company has only been around since 1990.
Here we take you on a journey through the growth of the Foundation from its early beginnings as
a department tasked with supporting education orientated work right up to the present day
organisation that disburses millions of rands to social development projects.
The early days
Way back in 1988 Eskom was grappling with South Africa's shifting political landscape and so
management approved the first ‘community development' project. This project provided talented
black students who excelled
in maths and science with bursaries to study engineering. This was coupled with
a career guidance manual titled ‘Eskom Careers Spectrum'. Over 5000 copies were
distributed to schools across the country.
From here Eskom began to delve deeper into community development projects and in 1989 a grant was
approved to fund an independent school, St Luke's College. The multi-racial school promoted
excellence in mathematics and science and aimed to bring about transformation in education.
CSI gains momentum
From the 1990s Eskom began to carve a space for itself in the CSI field and so established a
Community Development department. The department – staffed by three
people, two of which remain today – was mandated to identify non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) that work in the field of enhancing education through a
corporate social investment (CSI) programme.
From this position NGOs such as
READ, Maths Centre for Primary School Teachers, Centre for Advancement of
Science and Maths Education, Science Education Programme, Education with
Enterprise Trust, Promat College (a private teachers training college) and
Protec (a Saturday school to enhance the education of African pupils in
English, maths, science and technology), as well as several early childhood
development NGOs were funded for a number of years, and these programmes showed results that had a
1991 was a busy year for the
department as they went about establishing the “Eskom Secondary School
Enrichment Programme” which helped with life skills and career guidance at 17
independent and private schools. Eskom also offered full scholarships to 120
black pupils who excelled in mathematics and science.
1991 was also the year that Eskom
collaborated with Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) an NGO that promotes
permaculture gardens in schools across the country. Eskom with FTFA started the
Eduplant Competition to promote these gardens and the role of food security in
schools. Eskom went on to work with Food and Trees for Africa for 10 years
after which Woolworths took over as main sponsor of the programme.
1991 saw the Community
Development department also become responsible for funding classrooms and
funding electricity supply to schools in previously disadvantaged communities.
This project was executed with the help of Eskom Distribution.
1992 saw the development of an
NGO Capacity Building Handbook - ‘You're not on your own' that assisted NGOs
with registering and setting up NGOs, doing business planning and guidelines
and fundraising and management.
The Eskom Community Development
department collaborated with CSI staff from other businesses to establish the
South African Grant-makers Association (SAGA) with a view to share information
and best practice.
In 1994 Eskom established a Small Business Development department to
identify small, black-owned businesses to promote electrical applications in
businesses through Eskom's test and demonstration centre. One member of staff from the Foundation
was invited to attend a summer school at Cambridge University in the UK and subsequently was invited
by the International Partneship Network to present papers on CSI in the South African context in the
United Kingdom, USA and Canada.
Eskom also partnered with the
former University of Natal to establish the Institute for Partnerships between
Education and Business (IPEB) to promote corporate business partnerships with
NGOs to enhance education in disadvantaged communities.
In 1996 the Community Development department established the first Small Business Expo for black
entrepreneurs at Nasrec near Johannesburg.