New Era (Windhoek)

11 April 2013

Namibia: Standard Bank Commits N$4 Million to Social Causes

Windhoek — Standard Bank Namibia announced that it would spend N$4 million in social initiatives for communities this year.

The amount is higher than the N$3.5 million that the bank spent last year. The bank pledged to set aside 1 percent of its net profit for corporate social investments in the areas of education, entrepreneurship development, as well as health and wellness.

"We aim to establish and foster relationships with beneficiaries that go beyond once-off donations so as to have greater impact and sustainability," the bank's Chief Executive Officer, Mpumzi Pupuma said when announcing this year's budget for social initiatives this week.

Standard Bank says it firmly believes in moving communities forward by ensuring that they too enjoy improved livelihoods and success. "It is only in this way that we can all collectively assist government in meeting its national developmental goals and ensure social and economic development," Pupuma added. The bank has ploughed N$1.3 million into education through its academic excellence programme that is geared towards boosting the academic performance of learners throughout the country.

It had further invested N$750 000 over a three-year period to purchase formula milk that has saved the lives of 1 271 babies from contracting the HIV/AIDS virus. Another N$100 000 has been committed to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's special programme for the San people.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of Education, Hanno Shipena, who attended Standard Bank Namibia's announcement of the budget for social initiatives said the contribution of the private sector is crucial for government to be able to reach its goal of giving all children an education. "Many of the achievements of human kind have come about as a result of public-private partnership and education has the potential for achieving more through collaboration with stakeholders," Shipena said.

In 2012 alone, 10 466 children dropped out of school due to poverty, hunger, disability and long distances to schools, the deputy permanent secretary revealed. "Items such as clothes, shoes, toiletries, transport, funds, or even a small increase in the amount of food at home, can form a crucial bridge between a potential school drop-out and an educated person," Shipena said. The N$1.3 million that Standard Bank Namibia provided to the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Namibia, over the last five years has benefited 1 049 vulnerable children.

Shipena further revealed that two of the beneficiaries supported by the bank have made it to university and one of them is a second year environmental biology student and the other a second year student in the School of Medicine at the University of Namibia (Unam). "These learners are indeed true role models and a demonstration that, with support and hard work, one can reach the top," he said.

Gerson Kamatuka, the Deputy Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Prime Minister also lauded the bank's social investments and reported that more than 10 San children have now enrolled at tertiary institutions for further education in the country, something that happened rarely among Namibia's marginalised communities. Another San graduate is employed in Standard Bank's Foreign Exchange Department. "The San people can now bury their loved ones in dignity and not in plastic bags as before, since the coffin-making project that was started with the help of Standard Bank," Kamatuka added.

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