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Overview | History | A fully fledged CSI Programme | Annual Reports​ ​​


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 development.

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 CSI.



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 sustainable impact.

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.

A fully fledged CSI Programme

1998 was a momentous year for CSI at Eskom as the Eskom Executive approved the establishment and registration of the Eskom Development Foundation. The Foundation is a section 21 Company or a non-profit company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Eskom. The Foundation was mandated to coordinate and integrate Eskom’s CSI activities. It formally began operations on 1 January 1999.

From the launch of the Eskom Development Foundation right through to present day the Foundation has been hard at work forming alliances and partnerships to propel their work to the next level.

In 2002 the organisation partnered with Thebe Exhibitions to presents the annual Business Opportunities & Franchise Expo. This then expanded and grew to include the Eskom Business Investment Competition for black-owned small and medium enterprises in 2008. Both have gone on to become flagship events on the Foundation’s calendar.

Eskom also launched the Eskom Energy and Sustainability programme for primary and high schools in South Africa. Through partners Education with Enterprise Trust the Simama Ranta competition was established to encourage entrepreneurship education in high schools across South Africa.

2009 saw the launch of one another of the Foundation’s flagship events, Joy & Jewels, a women’s month event that raises funds for NGOs that promote the wellbeing of women.

In 2010 the Eskom’s corporate social investment strategy was reviewed and then refined to align with Eskom’s business imperatives with the primary focus on development in communities around the new build sites. The strategy was also aligned with government’s development agenda and skills development and mentoring of SMEs was prioritised.

The Eskom employee Guardian i-Volunteer (GiV) programme was established in 2010. Employees through their GiV teams work with registered welfare organisations for 12 months to contribute to sustainability.

2012 was an exciting year as the Foundation extended its work in education to enhance skills development along the entire education value chain. From preschools to FET colleges and tertiary support, as well as accredited skills development and capacity building for SMEs to Foundation aims to bring about reform in South Africa’s education department.


Annual Reports​