In 2016, South African ICMIF member Professional Provident Society (PPS) established the PPS Foundation, primarily to improve access for young people to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and contribute measurably to the sustainable development of South African communities, through PPS’s ethos of mutuality and shared success.
The PPS Foundation demonstrated the power of nurturing the potential of the next wave of economically empowered young professionals in its 2019 annual report, its second since inception in 2016. In particular, this addressed the South African National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 goal to improve the quality of education, skills development and innovation that will ultimately enable future professionals to realise their full potential.
According to the Foundation, the outcomes of its strategic focus were achieved by contributing and improving access to tertiary education with funding for bursaries and refurbishment of learning facilities, but by also addressing the social issues of tertiary students beyond the lecture room. These included tackling food insecurities within the student community, the enhancement of learning and experiences for students, and empowerment of young talent on the cusp of entering the job market after graduation through the LEAP (Learned, Engaged, Accelerated, Professionals) work-readiness programme.
In 2019, the PPS Foundation achieved its target of funding 60 students across the various universities and institutes of technology through its bursary programme.
“The selection of candidates who are awarded the bursary is based on their history of academic excellence and merit, with the group comprising students pursuing qualifications from an eclectic mix of faculties and specialised fields. Most of the beneficiaries who receive comprehensive funding are those in STEM-related fields that complement the national agenda and socioeconomic context of South Africa,” says Masenyane Molefe, Executive Trustee of the PPS Foundation.
For the first time, through stringent financial planning, the PPS Foundation was able to wipe out the historical debt of eight beneficiaries who were burdened by outstanding fees that predated their PPS Foundation bursaries, thus allowing them to focus on their studies.
During the year, the PPS Foundation also supported public universities and universities of technology with work-study programmes and other development initiatives in a bid to address the challenges that impact teaching and learning experiences.
“The PPS Foundation’s effort to improve access to quality tertiary education has grown from strength to strength over the past three years. Our greatest obligation is to continue creating and maintaining the partnerships that enable our work to be done successfully in educating South Africa’s future professionals. Since the inception of the foundation, over 250 students benefited from the bursary programme and 12 institutions and organisations benefited from the university support programme, and we can only hope to do more in years to come,” says Molefe.
Looking beyond the funding initiative, every student needs to be fully prepared to face the reality of work in order to become South Africa’s next business leader. In 2019, 25 graduates who were placed in various positions within the business successfully completed their tenure as part of the 12-month long Graduate Internship Development Programme. The programme was a priceless opportunity for the selected graduates to be embedded in a professional working environment and acclimate to the expectations of the world beyond their university walls.
While over 1000 students from various academic institutions were provided with skills, tools and mechanisms through the LEAP work-readiness programme. The programme is highly useful when students enter the job market because it raises awareness about the importance of personal branding through self-reflection. Students who completed the programme were able to master their first job interviews due to skills gained in communication and presentation skills, CV & interview preparation, understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are and most importantly what their career motive was.
Engaging closely with the student community and academic institutions, the PPS Foundation saw the need for more than financial aid for studies and the refurbishment of learning facilities. The PPS Foundation’s partnership with Rise Against Hunger Africa, spearheaded a food drive to fight food insecurity on campuses around the country by packaging over 100 000 nutritious meals for thousands of underprivileged students as part of the Employee Volunteerism and University Support Programme.
In 2019, PPS Insurance (PPS) partnered with the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI) in an effort to nurture future leaders using the Africanised concept of leadership. Almost 60 young leaders were part of this insightful programme and were encouraged to continue to solve problems in their communities.
PPS is a significant contributor to the PPS Foundation, however, as a public benefit organisation the PPS Foundation relies on attracting and broadening its base of donors and is proud to also be a beneficiary of the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet Programme. “We encourage members and beneficiaries of the foundation’s programme to pass the baton of excellence and empowerment to those who followed in the trail they blazed,” concludes Molefe.
Commenting on the PPS Foundation’s performance, Izak Smit, Chief Executive Officer of PPS and Vice-Chair of the ICMIF Board of Directors said: “We are inspired by the achievements of the PPS Foundation over the past three years. As a company that embraces the ethos of mutuality, we do not have shareholders, we have members from across the spectrum of professions and economic sectors. We care about the professional community. We care about the positive impact that this special community can make on the world around us. We also care about the future of this community and adding to our ranks new talented members who are beneficiaries of PPS Foundation’s efforts.”