Look up the definition of shared value and you will find words like ‘management strategy’, ‘business opportunities’ and ‘maximising competitive value’, all within the context of businesses taking on social problems within their communities. Of the many varied problems being tackled, none are more important in our current climate than those of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
One way to combat these problems would be the collaboration by both public and private sector on the issue of education – specifically the provision of higher education to the large portion of the population for whom tertiary education is just out of reach, due to, in part, the lack of funds, resources and support. By focusing on quality education through collaboration one is able to deal with poverty – the late Nelson Mandela said the only weapon against poverty is education; unemployment – providing an education in occupations in high demand, thereby ensuring employment and inequality - affording people of this country opportunities for decent work.
Chantyl Mulder, ISFAP Co-CEO, is a big advocate of shared value. She is of the firm belief that TOGETHER we stand, DIVIDED we fall. Chantyl adds, “This should not be the sole responsibility of just one sector or one department or company. Poverty, unemployment and inequality are challenges that are shared by many. Accordingly, we need to ask ourselves the question, should we not also share in the responsibility of eradicating them? All working together for this common cause?”.
But, what does ‘shared value’ actually mean?
Let’s look at those words. Shared is defined as something distributed between members of a group; it speaks to part-proprietorship. Value is defined as the importance, worth or usefulness of something. The consideration that something or someone is important or beneficial.
How, then, will we be able to tackle poverty, unemployment and inequality? By working TOGETHER (sharing, part proprietorship) and creating value to our country and its people - investing in the quality education of our youth. By creating this pipeline of skills, all companies will create their own pipeline of learners who will go onto training programmes/learnerships/apprenticeships and develop further, as we all work TOGETHER in creating our own tsunami, by applying a simple concept: shared value.
By collaborating and buying into the concept of shared value, companies would have skilled labour ready to take on the skills demands for the 21st century. What wonders would emerge if businesses challenged each other to push boundaries and innovate, knowing that they had the best minds possible doing just that? Minds that they had helped nurture and foster to reach greater heights; minds that enabled each of them, as businesses, to then be in a better position to make the lives of those around them – the communities that they supported and relied on to purchase and use their products and services – easier.
Providing an education is not as simple as it sounds. There are other factors that must be considered that affect the performance of the students at the end of the day. These are, inter alia, how does this student get to class? What distances do they have to travel to do so? Would it be easier for them to move closer? Can they afford to? What will they eat? Would they need to have employment to make ends meet? How would this affect their studies? If a problem should arise, would they have access to resources that would allow them to deal with the problem and still carry on with their studies?
“All of these questions, and the multitude of their variations, need to be considered and addressed, preferably by the group, before any benefit to the group can be gained. Getting an education is supposed to make life easier and it is, unfortunately, not a one-size-fits-all kind of problem. The solution, therefore, should not be either” adds Chantyl.
ISFAP is of the opinion that giving those prospective students access to Universities and Universities of Technology is only the first step. Keeping them in class for the duration, and making sure they are able to focus on being the best that they can be, is where the challenge comes in. ISFAP is working tirelessly to give these young minds the opportunity and freedom to change the world; to make it better, so that they can build a world where they can contribute even more to making sure future generations have similar, if not better, opportunities to do the same.
Isn’t that a group worth being a part of? A group that not only shares in the contribution of resources but is able to reap the value of what those resources are able to achieve.
Join us at ISFAP in making this dream a reality.