Zurich South Africa supports projects and initiatives that underpin our commitment to the communities within which we operate. Across our core business practices, our propositions and services and in our engagement with our local communities we proactively consider and address social, environmental and governance issues that are of concern to our stakeholders. Being a responsible sustainable company is therefore essential to how we do business.
Our aspiration “to be the leading empowered insurer in our chosen markets” not only permeates our core business operation, but also reflects our commitment to contribute to the sustainable development of African society.
We take our BEE commitments extremely seriously and, in 2011, were ranked as a Level 3 contributor in terms of the DTI Codes of Good Practice. Following the changes made to the Companies Act, we started redefining our transformation agenda to include social and ethical matters.
We continually review and seek to improve our contribution to society by ensuring that we deliver a focused strategy that has a significant impact on the communities we serve. The programmes that were supported in 2011 have been included below.
Afrika Tikkun, an organisation that focuses on uplifting previously disadvantaged communities with an emphasis on the support of orphans, vulnerable children and their families, has received support for a number of years. In 2011, we continued to work alongside the company's management team to develop a unique after-school education programme for children with learning disabilities. This programme will ensure that children receive the extra support and tuition they need to continue to learn and develop successfully. In addition, we have been identifying opportunities to support educational development in other Afrika Tikkun locations.
We continued to work in partnership with Royal Bafokeng Holdings and this relationship has created many opportunities where we can work together and make a positive difference. These initiatives included a project aimed at improving levels of literacy and numeracy in schools, support of the Tapologo Hospice and the Phokeng Trauma Centre for victim of crime and sexual abuse.
During the year we worked alongside our partners, Royal Bafokeng Holdings, to initiate a project which would improve the levels of literacy and numeracy in schools. This became a reality in the second half of the year when a mobile library facility was launched to the 39 schools within the Bafokeng region. The aim of this project was to expose the children to books, games and other educational material within their home environment so that their learning and education continues outside of school hours. We also supported a teacher up-skilling programme which ensured that the levels of teaching within the schools were brought up to the required standard.
The Tapologo Hospice which assists families and communities to care for people affected and infected by HIV/Aids continued to support the community. The programme consists of an Outreach and Home-based Care Programme; a programme aimed at orphaned and vulnerable children; an antiretroviral therapy programme and an in-patient unit and hospice. Through this project, we sought to ensure that each child was provided with a meal every day, as well as life skills and educational material, assistance with homework and psychological support.
A trauma facility – the Phokeng Trauma Centre – endeavoured to provide one-stop rape and trauma support to victims and survivors of crime and sexual assault. Trauma counselling, psycho-education, court preparation services, material assistance and medication were among the services that were provided to members of the community each month.
Continuing our focus on education, during 2011, we started developing a programme alongside the Learnership Development initiative that will allow the Company to identify and provide bursaries to specific students who will be able to develop their career within Zurich. Again, with the aim of sustainability in mind, we will determine the future skills required by the Company and will then identify specific university courses that focus in these areas – giving specific individuals the opportunity to study and work within a corporate organisation.
Whilst financial support is crucial, it is not just about writing the cheque – we have a unique opportunity to make a genuine difference to peoples' lives. Our community investment programme was therefore structured to allow employees from across the country to donate their time and energy in different ways. This resulted in the launch, in June, of our Zurich Cares Hi5 Campaign.
Split into five challenges that took place throughout the year, employees embraced the opportunity to make a tangible difference. Projects ranging from food parcel collections to donations of toys and games, and a magazine and newspaper recycling drive were interspersed with centre visits where members of staff were able to become actively involved and, at the same time, interact with the children.
The programme will continue in 2012 and will include a career day where Grade 12 students will be invited to our offices to learn more about the different aspects of business and a coin collection in support of the Afrika Tikkun Centre in Johannesburg.
We are committed to leveraging our global network of experts to ensure we develop products and propositions in line with our customers' changing needs. In 2011, we refreshed our Personal and Commercial Lines policies, and launched our new Farmers' product at the end of the year. We are engaged in new opportunities for 2012, such as in the Financial Lines area.
We continue to commit to environmental and conservation activities, and, in particular, our sponsorship of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Birds of Prey Working Group has now been ongoing for around 18 years.
In total, Zurich South Africa contributed over R7.9 million in 2011 towards community investment and environmental projects and, going into 2012, we are looking to develop and refine our programme of activity further. By creating focus and channelling both resources and time into a number of core initiatives, we are able to demonstrate that as an organisation we are genuinely embracing the spirit of socio-economic development by having a clear vision to make a tangible, positive difference..