During the first day of Trialogue’s annual CSI conference, speakers, panelists and delegates explored developments in the field of corporate social investment (CSI) and shared lessons from successful interventions.
The two-day conference being held in Johannesburg on 24 and 25 May has brought together more than 450 delegates from corporates, NPOs and government, as well as academics and media delegates.
This year’s theme is collaboration for impact. Speakers on a number of panels expressed the view that well-strategized, mutually beneficial partnerships can greatly increase the efficacy, reach and sustainability of CSI. A session on innovation in funding highlighted this collaborative trend, with banks, insurers, service providers, NPOs and government working together to develop new ways to structure transactions and fund projects.
Collaboration is not without its challenges, said delegates. Working with multiple stakeholders can be higher risk and more difficult than having full control, but under the right circumstances, more can be achieved.
Other conference topics on the first day included the state of CSI in South Africa, monitoring and evaluation, collaboration in education, and skills development and employability.
Appropriately enough, on the eve of Africa Day, a fascinating session looked at the alignment between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and African citizens’ priorities. Through public opinion surveys in 36 African countries, Afrobarometer has determined the top concerns of citizens in these countries. Perceptions and priorities differ from country to country, and between different demographics, but unemployment has emerged clearly as the most important issue across the countries surveyed.
Delegates to the conference were eager to connect and network with colleagues in the field. As well as the plenary sessions, there were breakout sessions where delegates could delve more deeply into their own areas of particular interest. An exhibition was also held, where delegates could find more information of key organisations in the field.
According to Trialogue’s research, businesses spent R8.1 billion on CSI in South Africa during the 2014/15 financial year.