Social investing occurs through the FirstRand Foundation, FirstRand Empowerment Foundation, FirstRand Staff Assistance Trust and, additionally, directly through the franchise businesses.
The group’s systemic social investing strategy is designed to confront the root causes of South Africa’s social ills, and develop new scalable and replicable models for development. The initial portfolio of areas supported by the foundations was broad. The group is acutely aware that an economy cannot hope to grow without an educated workforce. In response, over the past few years the foundations have shifted the bulk of their attention to systemic education initiatives, on which they spent R243 million in 2018 (2017: R284 million). The group’s education programmes cover the whole education continuum from early childhood development (ECD) to primary and secondary schooling, tertiary education and workplace readiness, with the aim to increase employability and productive livelihoods.
The FirstRand social investing ecosystem
- Original established as the Southern Life Foundation in 1988; changed to the FirstRand Foundation in 1998.
- In terms of SARS regulations, the FRF Trust is required to distribute at least 50% of all funds received by way of donation (i.e. firstrand’s 1% NPAT)) within 12 months of the end of the year in which the donation was received; in addition , investment income earned by the trust must be spent within five years of earning it. As FREF is financed through dividend income (and not via a donation), it does not face spending requirements of this sort.