ArcelorMittal SA and NWU Vaal – championing change in the community

Annette Willemse -- Wed, 12/03/2014 - 17:49

ArcelorMittal SA and NWU Vaal – championing change

Six months after the launch of the ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) Sustainability Accelerator Training Programme in collaboration with the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal), the first group of participating non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) successfully completed the programme.

These participants – representing 20 different NGO’s, were recently applauded during a celebratory certification ceremony at the Quest Conference Estate in Vanderbijlpark.  The programme represents the first of its kind in South Africa and will in all likelihood also be introduced in areas where the steel giant operates such as Newcastle and Saldanha Bay.

Prof Thanyani Mariba AMSA and NWU Vaal share an innovative and dynamic relationship Mrs Maggie Mopedi

In his address the Campus Rector, Prof Thanyani Mariba, described the six month training programme as a life changing journey for the participants. He applauded their accomplishments and welcomed them into the fold of the NWU family. “You now have the responsibility to pay it forward and champion the change you want to see in the community,” said Prof Mariba and added that the participants were now empowered not only in terms of business savvy and principles but also to think critically about their role within the region, the province and the country as a whole.

Professor Mariba further re-iterated that dynamic and innovative partnerships – such as the one between ArcelorMittal South Africa and the NWU Vaal, surpasses the elementary roles of providers of education and training opposed to the creators of employment and wealth.  “As an institution of higher education, collaborative networks and partnerships have long been identified as a primary means of addressing our role in contributing towards sustainable socio-economic development,” said Prof Mariba.

Enduring relationships

According to Mr Ederick Stander, AMSA Sustainability Accelerator Project Manager and a lecturer within the School of Behavioural Sciences (within the Faculty of Humanities), the success of the programme and the partnership between AMSA and the NWU Vaal mirrors the shared commitment of the parties towards empowerment within the Vaal Triangle region.  “This first group of NGO’s are now empowered with the necessary skills and knowledge to act as drivers of sustainable economic and social change not only within their immediate environment, but also within their larger networks. It is my dream that this programme will continue to expand and by doing so afford more NGO’s to join and ultimately create an availability pool of sustainable change agents in our region.”

Some of the highlights of the six month programme includes one participant enrolling for a BCom degree at the NWU Vaal in 2015, a successful funding bid by one of the participating NGO’s to the Department of Social Development and another NGO managed (through the guidance of an NWU Vaal mentor and researcher) to make contact with a similar organization in Brazil. The latter has afforded the specific NGO the opportunity to not only benchmark themselves but also to learn best practices from international counterparts.

Impact will change the face of poverty

In her congratulatory message, Mrs Maggie Mopedi – AMSA Corporate Responsibility and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, said that Social Corporate Investment (SCI) initiatives such as the AMSA Sustainability Accelerator Training Programme aims to positively impact communities and by doing so contribute directly towards regeneration and growth. “It (SCI) is not about throwing money towards a cause, but rather a strategic and focused effort to better the lives of people within AMSA’s operational footprint. In light of this, I am overwhelmed by the success rate of the programme and I foresee these NGO’s to play a pivotal role job creation, economic growth and addressing the social needs of the Vaal Triangle region. AMSA is looking forward to seeing you fly high!”

More about the project

The six month training programme saw participants receive interactive and practical learning which enabled them to better manage their respective businesses, acquire and develop sustainable community projects, retain large corporate funders and steer impact driven projects. A cash injection of R200 000.00 by ArcelorMittal South Africa secured the training from the Centre for Continuing Professional Development (CCPD) on the Vaal Triangle Campus. Apart from the set curriculum, each participant was also assigned a personal and professional mentor in the form of a qualified and registered industrial psychologist from the Faculty of Humanities.

The programme followed a blended learning approach and participants were exposed to interactive sessions, fieldtrips, assignments and mentoring.  The outcomes of the project were to empower NGO’s to function as small businesses with measurable outcomes whilst enhancing their impact by facilitating a paradigm shift from a culture of dependence to an ethos of self-sustainability. 

Mr Ederick Stander   The participants attended a certificate ceremony