Thought Leadership

Driving social impact through ESD-A note from the Chairperson

March 2022

For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about the development of Human Capital. I strongly believe that each human being is blessed with unlimited potential that is all too often tragically wasted. This led me into a career in HR and a fascination with how different organizations provide (or fail to provide) support for employees to reach full potential in their roles and careers. Over time my interest shifted to the plight of millions of South Africans who are left out of the system through unemployment, or diminished capacity to care for themselves, let alone finding a company that supports their career development.

I then moved to Barloworld Limited Corporate Office from Barloworld’s Equipment division, to get involved in Social Development programmes where I was fortunate to participate in initiatives that supported remote communities, some of which hardly ever appear on the radars of our busy city lives. It is sad that most of these initiatives cannot sustain themselves without perpetual donor funding, making it increasingly challenging to decide who to help or to leave out. There are hundreds of compelling and impactful initiatives that collapse daily as donors move to new initiatives in an effort to help as many people as possible.

Barloworld Mbewu was established in 2019 as a flagship programme to identify and support innovative social entrepreneurs whose presence and shared value approach resonates with Barloworld’s core purpose of “Inspiring a world of difference, enabling growth and progress in society”. Mbewu complements Siyakhula by focusing specifically on developing high-potential social capital to drive self-sustaining initiatives for empowerment and economic development in marginalised communities.

One of our first Mbewu intakes was Ludada and Associates. Based in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. The company was founded in 2016 by Ncedo Ludada to provide prosthetic and orthotic products to people with disabilities. Ncedo began his career in 2009 working for the Department of Health in East London after completing a BSc. in Prosthetics and Orthotics at the Tumaini University in Tanzania. During this period, he realised that some of the prosthetic devices (artificial limbs) and orthotic devices (braces and mobility assistance) that were supplied by public hospitals were commonly unsuitable for the patient’s circumstances and needs. For instance, prosthetic legs for children need to consider their high activity rates as compared to adult prosthetics which need to support heavier weights. However, strained resources meant that the Department was unable to provide customised solutions to the large numbers of people that it helps at no charge, compared to the few who can afford expensive private care.

He took a sabbatical and after completing his MSc. in Clinical Rehabilitation at Flinders University Australia, Ncebo retuned to South Africa to establish his practice in Mthatha and its surrounding poor and rural communities which were severely underserviced. Hospitals in the region had reported that they had a waiting list of up to 450 amputees for prosthetics and 640 people for wheelchairs, and this excluded people who had not requested help.

Ncebo formulated an innovative business model based on Private Public Partnership (PPP) with the Department of Health, Universities, and equipment manufacturers to provide customised products and services of world class standards at affordable rates to the needy.

Ludada was one the initial cohort of 30 organisations that were supported by Mbewu in 2019/20. The company’s mission and strategy exemplify our ethos and the impact that we seek to achieve through Mbewu, alongside the work done by Siyakhula to drive job creation and empowerment through small business development. Mbewu provided the company with funding for asset acquisition and working capital as well as training and support to refine and implement its business strategy.

As much as we all recognise the legacy of the racial injustices of our painful past, and as we prepare to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre during the month of March, celebrating our transition to the respect and protection of basic individual human rights, we should not lose sight of the urgency required to do our part individually to care for others who have been left behind.

Noluvo “Vovo” Ngcwabe

Head of Barloworld Corporate Citizenship and Stakeholder Management as well as the Chairperson of Barloworld Siyakhula and the Barloworld Trust.

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