FleishmanHillard in South Africa Commits to a Future of Shared Growth and Prosperity

June 1, 2016

by Sharon Piehl

Empowerment is a moral imperative, but for it to affect real change we must approach it with the view of making it a lasting solution with many tangible steps along the way.

Developing people is key to long lasting empowerment. Providing real opportunities and then matching it with the necessary mentorship and skills upliftment is the only way we can ensure success.

For FleishmanHillard in South Africa, that means investing in education and skills development.

We believe that there is a more effective way of empowering people; one that also empowers a community, and mirrors our belief in people and the development of human capital.

This is how we approach broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE). Our BBBEE journey began in 2008, when FleishmanHillard in South Africa sold 30 percent of its equity to The Imvula Education Empowerment Fund, with the proviso that 100 percent of the funds would be used for bursaries to assist young black South Africans with their tertiary education.


FleishmanHillard stood surety for the loan, which was to be repaid with annual dividends. With education and its power to change lives as a key motivator for working with the Imvula Education Empowerment Trust, the loan was paid off in the financial year of 2014 and, in November 2015, FleishmanHillard in South Africa paid the first dividend.

As a result we were able to award 20 bursaries to young people from previously disadvantaged communities to study at the Maharishi Institute, a non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Institute provides previously disadvantaged youths with the opportunity to develop relevant business and life skills through the correct education channels.

A strong focus is placed on upskilling these individuals to ensure that they are market ready upon graduation and, since its inception in 2007, the Institute has placed over 99 percent of graduates into meaningful long-term jobs.

The bursaries cover tuition costs, part-time work, lunch daily, books, materials, counseling, vocational skills certificates, leadership camps and a job placement service for three years for each of the students.

This mutually beneficial arrangement has allowed us to do more than simply honour the standard BBBEE regulations. It is a manifestation of our approach to empowerment. We have created an environment which allows for shared growth and value.

By providing these students with the opportunity to have an education we have enabled them. They in turn will become contributing members of South Africa’s economy, helping to drive the growth which businesses like ours require to thrive.

With the power of education, we believe we are able to make a tangible difference in our community, as well as break the cycle of poverty in South Africa, doing more than simply what is expected by BBEEE regulations.

We believe that to affect real change South African businesses need to look at the bigger picture, and fulfill their commitment to the country by following through with BBEEE initiatives which result in more than just a BBEEE deal.