Corporate social responsibility and community development

BLT's commitment to sustainable economic development is the cornerstone of our ethos, because our success relies on the prosperity and success of the market we serve. We are bound together. By maintaining high ethical standards and a strong brand, we live our social responsibility to generate value for all our stakeholders while helping to build a healthier society.

Our purpose

We lead with purpose, focusing on youth development socio-economic and enterprise development. BLT nurtures a shared value mindset in our transformation and business objectives, and in how we deliver our purpose. We recognise that delivering value ultimately depends on maintaining engagement, as well as assisting with the health of the communities and economies we operate in. The Group therefore strives to provide access to mobile transactional services that are secure, simple, convenient and efficient for our customers, by understanding how best to service their needs and proactively promote product and services that are beneficial to the community.

Our brand

We lead by encouraging a growth mindset that allows our employees, #teamblu, to journey with us as we create inclusive business with and for the bottom-of-the-pyramid communities. We are responsive to the need of the community around us while generating profit: "Profit with Purpose".

Over the past couple of years, BLT's flagship initiatives have matured to support beneficiaries that align to our purpose and we established the Trust Blu Foundation. We are also passionate about the BLT learnerships, which grow individuals into permanent roles while constant upskilling makes them part of the pipeline for future leaders.

Overall, our focus is on building sustainable practices that enhance and grow our socio-economic, enterprise and supplier development framework. It starts with building our portfolio, growing a profitable business that is responsive to the environment, and continues on to actively built trust with the communities and enterprises we work with.

Our approach

We lead with purpose. We are a major player in the bottom-of-the-pyramid markets, helping to combat inequality. Contributing meaningfully to equal opportunities and financial inclusion will remain an ongoing focus for the Group.

We connect our license to operate and our responsibility to build sustainability through:

  • People – youth development, employee development, employment opportunities, a volunteer programme, and an engagement strategy.
  • Community – sustainability in affordability, skills, and entrepreneur development.
  • Customer – economic inclusion and continuous development.
  • Environment – programmes to build a sustainable environment today for tomorrow, conditions of employment, leadership development and succession planning.

COVID-19 exacerbated existing social challenges in South Africa, increasing inequalities and mobility constraints. Committed to our communities, we continued building our partnerships with NPOs and social enterprises to address this. Our response focused on the manufacture and distribution of hand sanitizers and face masks, catering specifically for vulnerable communities by leveraging unemployed youth and small businesses.

Measuring impact

We achieved impact in the following four areas:

1

YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

Providing youth with meaningful work, thereby keeping them engaged and motivated through difficult times while allowing them to play a critical role in combating the spread of the virus and economic recovery.

2

YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

Educating youth about COVID-19 and empowering them to provide both information and critical hygiene products such as face masks and sanitizers.

3

SMME SUPPORT AND DEVELOPMENT

Partnering with manufacturing SMMEs to produce products that prevent the spread of the virus. These small businesses were able to continue earning an income during the various stages of lockdown.

4

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Vulnerable communities continued receiving the resources needed to help them protect their households and families against COVID-19.

Our impact in numbers:

  • 5 446 bottled hand sanitizers manufactured
  • 5 640 reusable face masks produced
  • 5 000 COVID-19 hygiene, protection and information packs distributed into vulnerable communities
  • 800 youth given meaningful work
  • 20 SMMEs partnered with to provide manufacturing and logistic support.

Our esg focus areas

At BLT, we acknowledge the importance of environmental, social and governance responsibility as presented by international frameworks and standards like the UN SDGs. In the year ahead, we will continue to be guided by the following objectives and action areas:

REDUCE POVERTY

  • Socio-economic development initiatives
  • Employment
  • Entrepreneurs

GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING

  • Proactive employee wellness initiatives
  • Support initiatives and education on physical, mental and financial wellbeing

QUALITY EDUCATION

  • Bursaries
  • Learnerships
  • Skills development
  • Employees, unemployed and youth development

EQUALITY

  • Employment equity strategy and targets
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives

DECENT WORK AND GROWTH OPPORTUNITY

  • Conditions of employment
  • Management and leadership development programmes
  • Long-term employee development through succession planning

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Social and ethics committee
  • ‘WeLead’ with purpose through a shared value committee
  • Socio-economic approved implementation plan
  • Governance and process adherence
  • Insights to make right decisions for long-term sustainability

PARTNERSHIP FOR THE GOALS

  • Flagship beneficiaries align with our strategy intent
  • Food safety

EMPLOYEE RETENTION

  • Engagement strategy
  • Communication strategy
  • Employee volunteer programme

How our purpose, brand, and reputation support the advantage and shared value

Christel house South Africa . . . is a leading educational institution and non-profit school with a single mission: to break the cycle of poverty. It offers no-fee scholarships to students from some of Cape Town's poorest neighbourhoods and supports them for 19 years (Grade RR to Grade 12, and five years post-school) through character-based and career-focused education.

This financial year, our donation to Christel House assisted in accelerating a tech-driven environment for their 1 200 plus students from grade RR to Grade 12 and through to post-matric. Consequently, they were able to ensure that their school remained open during the pandemic while all the students shifted to an online learning environment, virtually overnight. All the children could continue their classes at home, using mobile tablets loaded with data, resulting in a 100% pass rate with an 80.5% Bachelor's pass rate.

To invest in education is to have a long-term view and our partnership with Christel House therefore extends beyond financial support. We offer their students the opportunity to start on a career path into the Group's internal or external ecosystem, whether through a learnership, an internship, or a bursary fund. The world of work requires skilled people in ICT and we are vested in providing opportunities to position our youth for success.

Boys and Girls' Clubs of South Africa (BGCSA) . . . is an after-school programme that provides a physically and emotionally safe space for children who need it most. As a BLT flagship programme, BGCSA focuses on the holistic development of each and every child that walks through their doors. They provide a healthy meal to their 2 100 club members every day and enable them to participate in various programs, including homework support and tutoring classes, arts, civics, technology and sports.

This year presented many challenges. From the onset of the national lockdowns, BGCSA endeavoured to switch to a digital programme model, only to find that more than 60% of their children had no access to a mobile device or internet connection at home. To close the digital divide, BLT funded an upgrade of the Clubs' computer labs so that they can deliver their technology programs more effectively and provided high-speed internet connections across the organisation. With the Group's support, BGCSA also employed and trained more programme facilitators.

Over and above the financial contribution, BLT continues to connect participants in the BGCSA technology programs, which includes coding and web development, with career opportunities in our internal and external ecosystem through learnership and job placement opportunities. Many of the Club members lack employment opportunities and being able to create or establish this connection is the ultimate goal of our socio-economic development strategy.

Boys and Girls' Clubs of South Africa (BGCSA)

Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WAMACA) . . . is a non-profit organisation established in 1997. Now in their 24th year of operation, they are at the forefront of advocacy and raising awareness around the complex issues of child abuse, while simultaneously providing free, high quality treatment services to victims of abuse through their kids clinics.

BLT contributes to vital parts of their operations which are not government-funded: telecommunications and IT expenses, as well as the costs of researching, developing and facilitating awareness campaigns for children and caretakers.

During the year, the organisation's prepaid airtime and data expense spiked, and BLT's support helped all their social and field workers to continue doing their work. The funding was also allocated to the recording and dissemination of information, including statistics, trends and hot-spot areas, electronically.

Amplifying impact with collaboration

During the year, BLT initiated and supported a collaboration between WAMACA and BGCSA that resulted in two successful programmes.

The first programme was Child Abuse Response Training, delivered by WAMACA to 62 BGCSA staff members. The training equipped the BGCSA team with skills to deal with suspected child abuse cases and to understand what the relevant legislative requirements are for all those who work with children.

The second programme involved a workshop for 90 children during Child Protection Week. The training taught children the meaning of belonging and the importance of feeling safe. Its purpose was to encourage empathy in the children by helping them to understand the importance of healthy relationships and treating others well.

Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WAMACA)
Education Africa's sounds of celebration concert

Education Africa's sounds of celebration concert . . . is an ensemble of young South Africans celebrating social cohesion with music. This year, talented young performers took to the virtual stage in a celebration of authentic connection and true partnership, which included the performance of two deaf marimba bands. BLT enabled the Sounds of Celebration team to innovate and reinvent the Sounds of Celebration VIII Concert, bringing it online and turning the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity for positive change.

The concert was successfully streamed online on 23 May 2021 as a packaged broadcast directly into viewers' homes and community spaces. The virtual edition ultimately resulted in a far wider reach than the live concert, and included performers from around the world. It featured four of Education Africa's Marimba Hubs, 220 performers from eight countries performing 18 concert items. The musicians performed on marimbas, steelpans, violin, oud, guitars, drums, flutes and vocals, with dancers, poetry reading, and rapping amplifying the performance.


Heroes of Hope

The Heroes of Hope initiative is Ticketpro South Africa's response to the COVID-19 pandemic's challenges. It provides hope and positivity in a time when the events, entertainment and transport industry is decimated by lockdown measures. Every Hero represents an aspect of the industry, related to Ticketpro, that reveal a road to recovery for the Company and the industry as a whole:

  • Professor T (for 'Ticketpro') is the famous leader of the Heroes of Hope.
  • THOR (the 'Transport Hero of the Republic')'s new and improved technology help bus transport companies reach the people who depend on them for safe, efficient and reliable transportation.
  • The Sentinel of Sport unites the country through sport by making sure that sport reaches the people, even during lockdown, and that empty stadiums do not become the new normal.
  • Heroticket Girl is a new hero unlike any that the Ticketpro community has ever seen. Her special powers help promoters to ace COVID-19 precautions, and she brings post-COVID-19 solutions and new technology that de-stress event organisers – white-label website creation, state-of-the-art access control, and industry-leading cashless technology. She is particularly good at attracting the younger generations to an event.
  • VAS Boy worked hard during COVID-19 as Ticketpro's new value-added service supplier of airtime, Celbux, electricity, and Blu vouchers. Because of his awesome sidekick skills, South Africans have all these products at their fingertips.

Together, the squad pushes the boundaries of technology and event experience, in a way that helps get a wounded industry back on its feet stronger than ever before.

Heroes of Hope

iTalk2U employment and entrepreneur development

iTalk2U is a newly established business and exciting social entrepreneurship venture. It is an encrypted web-based platform and decentralised sales solution that allows people to earn a sustainable income while working remotely. In essence, iTalk2U is an "Uberised" version of a call centre.

The main goal is to create thousands of jobs across South Africa and ultimately reach 10 000 sustainable jobs in the next five years. Training centres are being set up and built across the country, equipped with all the necessary call centre infrastructure, which will allow people who do not have a job or access to a computer to use the centre to start earning a sustainable income. Here, they will also be trained on sales, business acumen and entrepreneurship - which in turn leads to some of them opening up their own micro call centres. We are particularly excited about a new partnership with Harmony Gold mine, currently being finalised, which aims to create hundreds of jobs in Welkom where the unemployment rate is among the highest in South Africa.

iTalk2U is still in its infancy, but it already has approximately 60 agents - either in training or already dialling - and we foresee this number growing exponentially as time goes by. iTalk2u already attained a number of exciting sales and lead warming campaigns (including those of BLC, Hollard, Sanlam, and Different Life), with many more in the pipeline. Plans to expand internationally are also in the works, which will allow many more people to join the platform. South Africa was recently voted as the number 1 destination in the World for Customer Experience, presenting a considerable opportunity for the country to create jobs – and for iTalk2U to be the frontrunner of this.

iTalk2U – the call centre experience of the future.

iTalk2U employment and entrepreneur development
iTalk2U employment and entrepreneur development

BluTrain: Upskilling youth to grow in any business

Blue Train Group was founded to provide unfunded learnerships, training, recruitment, and payroll requirements for the BLT workforce. Our objective is to create trained staff from our unemployed youth to go out into the workforce and grow in each business that they are placed into. We are upskilling these youth by providing complete SETA accredited training as well as on the job training for different roles within companies. Our aim for this first financial year is to place approximately 3 600 unskilled employees into the BLT Group.

We established a state of the art 6 000 square meter training facility in Randburg that affords us the ability to train up to 2 000 learners a month. All the training is performed online, enabling us to train multiple courses within one lecture room, thereby utilising all the training stations at any given time. We are registered with all 11 SETAs and can offer up to 44 different learnerships, identifying the most suitable course for every business individually, allowing our learners the opportunity to study a suitable course for their respective new jobs.

In future, we aim to train 10 000 youth annually to create a stronger workforce for companies.

ITALK employing youth

ITalk Holdings commenced its operations in 2007 and is a state-of-the-art call centre. Our mission has always been to create jobs for the unemployed youth within South Africa – we upskill these youth by letting them participate in learnerships, thereby allowing them to build their own career paths. Our call centre offers a wide range of job positions, offering a stepping stone into the future growth of each employee.

We employed 1 500 staff during the 2021 financial year. In the new financial year, we aim to employ 3 000 youth.

Trust Blu Foundation

Trust Blu Foundation is the non-profit arm of BLT. It was founded in 2020 with a vision to significantly reduce unemployment and the unequal opportunities among South Africa's youth by focusing on the development and growth of informal, micro, and small enterprises. The Foundation leverages the funding, technology, expertise and reach of BLT, other corporates, government and institutional donors to assist non-profits and social enterprises to amplify their impact and facilitate economic inclusion that delivers measurable and sustainable impact, while strengthening our brand equity and market reach.

The Group has entrepreneurial roots and has always had a deep commitment to community development and philanthropy. The launch of the Foundation enables us to increase our impact, ramp up our efforts, formalise our strategy, design and implement programmes that create sustainable jobs and entrepreneurs to drive large-scale
socio-economic development.

Our focus during FY2021 was to consolidate our processes and governance structures, as well as starting the design and planning process of our strategic development projects in alignment with our creating shared value principles. This will drive our impact mandate aggressively in FY2022.