Celebrating Women in CSR – Wezi Njovu

As part of International Women’s Month to celebrate the achievements of women, we continue our series to appreciate Women in CSR with another interview of Wezi Muyembe Njovu, the Head Marketing and Corporate Communications at UBA Zambia:

 

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and the number of years you have been CSR practitioner.

In my role as Head Marketing and Corporate Communications at UBA Zambia Limited, I am to ensure projection of the UBA brand as one of the top pan-African institution. My role also involves developing effective communication campaigns, managing stakeholder relations, media relations and network, brand visibility, impactful corporate events/ sponsorships and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

It feels like I have been in CSR since I was a toddler and this is because my mother has always believed in impacting the society through community goodwill.

Tell us about someone or something (mentor, friend, hero, incident) who or that affected or influenced your CSR journey, and how.

My mother, Mrs Tamara Chirembo Muyembe would be the first person who has influenced greatly on my CSR journey. My mother has always believed in changing lives of people in our communities especially women in the rural areas as well as disadvantaged women through different ways like teaching them skills such as knitting, sewing, cooking in order to help them generate income and being a teacher herself, she teaches these women how to read and write.

In my professional career, I would definitely owe my inspiration to the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and UBA Chairman, Mr Tony Elumelu who is a visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist. Mr Elumelu also believes that we all can play a role in our communities in order to better the lives of our people in society.

 

How has CSR/CSI evolved at your organisation?

CSR has certainly evolved in UBA Zambia to a point that all staff members as well as the UBA Zambia board members have jumped on the bus with great interest and enthusiasm to make a difference in the community. Our main initiative which is the Read Africa Initiative under the UBA Foundation has had staff believe and participate more in the initiative. Read Africa is an initiative of UBA Foundation aimed at rekindling the dwindling reading culture amongst African youths. Our children no longer read; their passion for reading informative and educative books is fast eroding and this is part of the ills we want to correct in the continent’s educational sector.​

These children are also distracted and challenged by the presence of electronic social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. There are other factors militating against the Zambian educational system as well as Africa as a whole. Having identified the need to curb the trend, especially in response to the declining culture of reading in post primary institutions across the continent, UBAF came up with the ‘Read Africa’ project, designed to resuscitate the reading culture amongst our youths across the African continent. Conceived and introduced in 2011 by the foundation, the project involves the provision of recommended English literature for junior and senior secondary schools students across Africa.

 

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

This will definitely have to be the recognition/award presented to UBA Zambia by the CSR Network Zambia for outstanding achievements in corporate social responsibility and responsible leadership under Education support for the Read Africa Initiative.

Secondly, I would like to make mention that the Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic has been a global health and societal emergency that has required effective immediate action by governments, businesses and the society at large.

To aid this collective effort and in line with our Corporate Social Responsibility, UBA Zambia partnered with the Government in dealing with this challenge with a donation of K2,650,000 to the Government Of The Republic Of Zambia for Covid-19 relief support.

UBA Zambia remains committed to working with the Government in other spheres of the economy. We have therefore, formed partnerships with different players in the ecosystem including Co-operatives and the Government; we are currently providing payment solutions to over 5,000 women beneficiaries under the Supporting Women Livelihood project by the Ministry of Community Development in partnership with World Bank.

The bank through the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme has also been supporting young Zambian entrepreneurs by providing them with an opportunity to have access to funding for their start-up businesses. Since 2015, 142 Zambian entrepreneurs have each been given $5000 non-refundable seed capital for their businesses.

 

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be, in line with CSR?

I wouldn’t really say I would like to change anything, instead I would say I would like to enhance and push our current initiatives with focus on the Read Africa initiative in order to have more Zambian schools and youths benefit from this. I would like to see more partnerships among businesses with the goal of improving the lives of our people in various ways possible.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

Believe! Just Believe!

 

How can CSR activities be used to empower women?

As the saying goes, when you empower a woman, you empower a generation. CSR activities are like gifts that go exactly where they are needed. We need to continue protecting and empowering women by equipping them with skills and offering training, education, counseling, love, medical care and financial literacy. Women can rise from grass to grace, from zero to hero and from nothing to something.

 

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day is when I know I have made a positive impact and a difference in another woman’s life, and this can be through a positive compliment, encouragement, offering a shoulder, offering guidance and just letting her know that we are on this journey together.

Celebrating Women in CSR – Katongo Chilufya

As part of International Women’s Month to celebrate the achievements of women, we continue our series to appreciate Women in CSR with another interview of Katongo Chilufya, the Communications, Public Relations & Corporate Social Investment -Manager at Atlas Mara:

 

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and the number of years you have been CSR practitioner.

I am the Communications, Public Relations and Corporate Social Investment Manager at Atlas Mara bank.

I have been a CSR practitioner for over 8 (eight) years with experience in various roles during this time.  Some of my roles and responsibilities as a practitioner is to ensure visibility, awareness for our products and services as well as internal and external stakeholder management for the organisation. To achieve this we use different platforms and I am always keen and excited to develop, implement effective Corporate Social Investment strategies that resonate with communities across Zambia.

Tell us about someone or something (mentor, friend, hero, incident) who or that affected or influenced your CSR journey, and how.

I know this will sound cliché but I have always had a passion to want to help or lend a helping hand ever since I could remember. Consequently, I have always gravitated towards situations that require assistance and try to render support in the best possible way by using my immediate network or tools.

My hero would be my sister Kasonde Priscilla Chilufya, in her small ways always found means to assist people in different circumstances and most times improving their well-being through her deeds. I learnt that one does not need to be an Oprah Winfrey my other hero, to make a difference, it is dependent on of all us and not only organisations to make the much needed difference in our society.

 

How has CSR/CSI evolved at your organisation?

CSR is usually seen as an organisation initiative but as a Bank we strive to make certain we also get staff members’ participation across our 50 branches, as this helps spread good-will across the country. For the Bank, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the biggest tenets for Atlas Mara’s vision. This means ensuring continuous improvement in the communities that we operate in.

We strive to be responsive to the needs of society and the communities, hence there is need to develop strong and relevant CSR programmes in partnership with like-minded organisations or individuals that have a passion to uplift communities and help mitigate the various challenges they face.

The Bank’s CSR programmes are anchored on four main pillars namely; Education, Health, Entrepreneurship as well as Water and Sanitation. Beyond these, we have also sought other opportunities to deepen the impact especially in deprived rural communities with effective CSR. Hence our presence across the 10 provinces in Zambia.

 

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

Atlas Mara Bank in partnership with World Sun Stream has been running a programme called #SolarForSuccess. A programme to donate portable 101,000 solar kits with lighting and mobile device-charging capability to economic and social sectors which included Education, Health, Tourism, Entrepreneurship as well as to under-privileged members in communities across the 10 provinces in Zambia.

This was due to power deficits in the country that has impacted everyone, therefore support is required in various communities, to help contribute to the growth of individuals, businesses, communities at large.

I am excited to say that over 98,746 people in various communities have benefitted so far from solar kit donation.

The donation is a recurring initiative which will assist various communities and sectors with solar kits and mobile device-charging capability.

 

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be, in line with CSR?

Create more empowerment initiatives and activities for young people in communities that are disadvantaged, this will help alleviate poverty levels and help create a beneficial cycle effect.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

To know exactly where I want to be in life, identify my goals and ambitions, which will in turn direct my path and decisions to get to my ultimate objective.

 

How can CSR activities be used to empower women?

“I always say that an empowered woman is an unstoppable force to reckon with”

There are so many way CSR activities that can be used to empower women, this can be achieved by creating opportunities and initiatives that empower women. This in turn will help create employment through the various initiatives, foster diversification of the economy with different initiatives contributing to various sectors and which will ensure self –sufficiency among women. This also ensures continuous development in various communities

For instance, Atlas Mara recently sponsored the Buyantanshi and Kamimbe Co-operative initiative, a women and youth empowerment fish farming start-up pilot program. This program ensures that the cooperatives achieve benefits not only at individual levels but at community and national level as well.

Atlas Mara also pledged to provide financial literacy training and business development support services to the camp which is the residence to local small-scale farmers and large international producers as well.

 

Describe your perfect day.

Being at home on a quiet day reading a good book or watching my favourite series with cup of coffee in my hands.

Celebrating Women in CSR – Sarah Banda-Ortiz

As part of International Women’s Month to celebrate the achievements of women, we continue our series to appreciate Women in CSR with another interview of Sarah Banda-Ortiz, the Corporte Affiars and Communications Manager at Lafarge Zambia Plc:

 

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and the number of years you have been a CSR practitioner.

My role is to ensure that we (Lafarge Zambia) have shared value with our communities and partners across the plants in which we operate. It is also important that the Company be a good corporate citizen in the community, I have been in the CSR/CSI space for over 3 years now.

 

Tell us about someone or something (mentor, friend, hero, incident) who or that affected or influenced your CSR journey, and how.

My grandmother influenced my CSR journey. From the time I can remember she has always quoted the following “If you can’t do great things, do small things in a great way”. This quote speaks volumes to me and affects what I do on a daily basis with regards to CSR, it is not about the big things but rather the small things that make an impact.

 

How has CSR/CSI evolved in your organization?

It has evolved in the sense that we have a symbiotic relationship with our communities. We are partners in this journey of CSR, gone are the days when it was just about giving and receiving, my organization is about uplifting our communities and empowering them with the necessary tools that will last a lifetime.

A great example of this is the UNZA ventilator project that we are supporting in partnership with Zambian Breweries. A huge part of the project is being managed by students at the School of Engineering who are putting together the first ventilator made in Zambia for Zambians. How rewarding will it be, when we will look back and see that as a nation we came up with local solutions to a local problem? This excites me.

 

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

I am very proud of the work that we did in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit the country. Our CSR was mainly community-centric and was centered on spreading the right information to our communities about the pandemic. We noticed very early on that our communities were not too cognizant of the virus we thus went into markets, schools, and open areas to educate them on the virus. This led to an award that we received from the CSR network, for the company’s communications strategies within our communities.

 

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be, in line with CSR?

At Lafarge Zambia, we have a CSR graduate trainee program called Step Up. The main aim of Step Up is to build a strong talent pipeline for key roles in the business. Even though this program has been extremely successful with an 85% success rate, there is one thing that I would change and it would be to have more women graduates applying to more technical roles. Our industry is predominantly male as there are few women in such technical and industrial positions in the Company. As our industry is becoming more eco-friendly and low carbon emission focused, I feel as though women are needed to drive this ambition and initiative globally. I was reading an article from the World Economic Forum titled “building a more sustainable world will need more women engineers” It went on to say that attracting and supporting more women in engineering benefits everyone by increasing the potential to develop inclusive, innovative solutions for the complex problems the world is facing. We need women on the negotiating table not just for inclusion and diversity purposes but also for innovative and effective solutions.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

Never take no for an answer and always be yourself.

 

How can CSR activities be used to empower women?

They can be used to empower women with the necessary skills needed to make an impact in their homes and society. As mentioned earlier, we need to start engaging in more CSR initiatives that teach people how to be independent and less dependent. In my view, an initiative that teaches someone to fish is more impactful compared to one that just hands out the fish. As the effects of that initiative will be felt from generation to generation.

 

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day is one where I feel like I have added some sort of value to my organization and community.

Celebrating Women in CSR – Mweembe Sikaulu

As part of International Women’s Month to celebrate the achievements of women, we continue our series to appreciate Women in CSR with another interview of Mweembe Sikaulu, the Communications and Brand Manager at Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL):

 

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and the number of years you have been CSR practitioner.

My current role is as the Communications and Brand Manager at Zambia Airports Corporation Limited and I am responsible for internal and external communications, branding, CSR, customer service and event management to name but a few. I have been a CSR practitioner for the past six years.

 

Tell us about someone or something (mentor, friend, hero, incident) who or that affected or influenced your CSR journey, and how.

I’m not sure that I ever had someone or something really influence my CSR journey, though certain aspects of what I do have always been a passion of mine. Since I was a child, I have always felt the need to help others and even recall a time when I was about seven years old and would stop my mother every time we saw a homeless person as I wanted to give them money. I am just grateful to have the opportunity as an adult to do more both in my personal and professional life.

 

How has CSR/CSI evolved at your organisation?

CSR has evolved in our organisation as it is a lot more structured and a lot more prominent than it had been in previous years. We have a CSR policy in place which guides us on many aspects including our focus areas. We are very clear about the spaces and areas we lend our support to and even began our own CSR traditions which have proven to be a success. We also entered into partnerships with certain non-profit organisations whose objectives were aligned with ours which proved to be very successful. It has been extremely fulfilling for my team and I to be on this journey while witnessing our CSR evolution.

 

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

I am really proud that my team and I were able to accomplish a particular objective despite circumstances beyond our control. We managed to partner with certain companies that were kind enough to come on board at the eleventh hour and help us create a special day for some very adorable underprivileged children. I will eternally be grateful to these companies and their representatives for believing in our vision and helping us make it happen.

 

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be, in line with CSR?

This is a tough one! Call me a dreamer but I suppose I would approve an unlimited budget so that we could make a difference on so many levels and in so many communities around the country.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

Some of the best advice I’ve heard has been from world renowned public figures as opposed to people I have met, and a couple that have stuck with me are ‘love what you do’ and ‘never stop learning’.

 

How can CSR activities be used to empower women?

CSR activities can be used to empower women in so many ways. From literacy and education to health to skills development, there are so many areas that if given the right tools and support, women would positively affect their communities starting with their families. They say when you empower a woman, you empower a nation, so imagine what we could accomplish if we empowered more women.

 

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day would probably vary depending on my mood and what is happening in my life at that particular time. On some occasions it might be a relaxing day consisting of sleep, good food, a good book and some peace and quiet. Another instance might see my perfect day being a lot more productive and social.

Celebrating Women in CSR – Chanda Chime-Katongo

As part of International Women’s Month to celebrate the achievements of women, we continue our series to appreciate Women in CSR with another interview of Chanda Chime-Katongo, the Public Relations, Communication and Women’s Banking / Marketing at Stanbic Bank Zambia:

 

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and the number of years you have been CSR practitioner.

In my role, I look after Women’s Banking, Reputational Risk Management, Government Relations, Media Relations, Corporate Social Investment, Community Relations, Brand Visibility and Communication in order to achieve the Corporate Affairs strategic goals in line with Bank-wide objectives for Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited.

I have worked in CSR for more than 10 years from my previous employer to my current one. My passion is mainly in community work and changing the lives of those living in densely populated impoverished communities. I have been working with financial inclusion for women for several years mainly focusing on savings groups, financial literacy and entrepreneurial training to upskill women.

Tell us about someone or something (mentor, friend, hero, incident) who or that affected or influenced your CSR journey, and how.

I can’t place the influence on my CSR journey on one person. I will place it on the many smiles that I see on people faces when they realize that their lives have just been changed. My influence comes from external stakeholders, such as communities with general expectations of a better life, better health care, better education leading to a better community. My influence also comes from Stanbic Bank staff who are willing to sacrifice their own time and resources in order to volunteer in communities and make a difference. Stanbic staff annually contribute from their pockets towards the Banks CSR projects. The amounts that are raised are then matched by the bank (doubled) and channeled to our CSR projects. In addition to this, every year the Bank invests 1% of its profits to CSR.

 

How has CSR/CSI evolved at your organization?

The understanding of CSR in the past was just donations. A huge cheque handed over and you are done. But I believe CSR has evolved over the years. At Stanbic Bank, CSR is not just about donations and handouts. Its about getting involved and changing the lives of people living in impoverished communities. The Banks CSR strategy is integrated into how we do business. It guides everything we do, from the services we provide to our clients, to the way we run our bank and support the local communities in which we live and work.

We believe that as Zambia is our home and so it is important that we help to create positive social, economic and environmental impacts in the communities in which we operate. With over 60 years’ experience in Zambia, we know the significance of focusing on the long term and we acknowledge that the decisions we make today will determine our tomorrow. While we have a clear strategic path, it is vital that we continue to be agile in responding to changes in the environment and embracing new opportunities and challenges.

 

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

One of my recent accomplishments that I am particularly proud about is the launch of the Stanbic Bank Buy-a-Brick Campaign. The Bank partnered with Zambia Homeless, Poor Peoples Federation and Peoples Process on Housing and Poverty in Zambia to launch the project which is aimed at reducing the housing deficit in the country and to support grassroots and vulnerable federation slum dwellers with decent affordable housing across the country. The campaign demonstrates the efficacy of working with organized communities in housing delivery as well as showcases low cost building techniques and other modalities of making housing affordable for the vulnerable. The project which was launched by its Patron, the Republican President HE Edgar Chagwa Lungu – builds upon the success of the ‘Stanbic Build’ initiative where the bank committed to construct low-cost houses for vulnerable families in Zambia’s urban areas. Under this project, the Bank and staff members intend to build 1000 houses in 5 years.

Addressing Zambia’s current housing deficit has the potential to boost economic growth because when people are provided with accommodation, they get empowered in more ways than mere protection from the elements.

By investing in decent housing, the urban poor accumulate equity that can then be used as collateral, making them more credit-worthy for accessing finance through formal channels, and generate an income – thus contributing more effectively to national development.

When more people have access to decent housing, society’s standing is uplifted, which plays a role in attaining sustainable economic growth for the country.

As a leading financial institution, Stanbic Bank has a responsibility of ensuring we meaningfully facilitate capital redistribution in the economy.

This resonates with our purpose as Stanbic Bank to always make a positive difference in people’s lives. And we are confident that if we as the largest bank in Zambia – and our customers – believe we can help vulnerable families find shelter; if we believe in their dream; then it can be reality.

 

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be, in line with CSR?

The change I would like to implement in line with CSR is to get more organizations involved in partnerships that can have a bigger impact in changing communities for the better. I cannot emphasize enough on the power of partnerships. The world is constantly changing, and so too is the landscape of CSR. The partnership of public, private and governmental entities to focus on a specific issue area is very critical and beneficial to those in need.  Now more than ever, partners are leaning on their expertise and innovation, and not just philanthropy, to solve problems.

Stanbic Bank understands the power of partnerships. In 2016 the bank launched a campaign to build mothers’ shelters at various rural health posts across the country over a five-year period to help alleviate maternal and child mortality while promoting good health among women in rural areas. Now the bank is not an expert in maternal health and child mortality, but we saw the need to reduce the rate of maternal mortality especially in rural areas if we are to achieve maternal mortality targets in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 3.

The bank-funded project is worth a total of US$280,000 and matches the objectives of its implementing partners who are the Churches Health Association of Zambia and the USAID – Saving Mothers, Giving Life Initiative, who also seek to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in Zambia. This partnership has seen 3 mothers’ shelters being built so far in Mazabuka, Southern Province, Chinunda District in Chipata and at Kabwe Mine Hospital in Central Province.

That is the power of partnerships and this one is just one of the many partnerships that the Bank has embarked on.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

One of the things I enjoy best about working in the field of CSR is that I encounter people with a wide diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Some come from a traditional business background, some are government officials and others come from the NGO or international development world. This variety in backgrounds and interests makes for some very thought-provoking discussions and leads to innovative partnerships and projects.

It was during these discussions that I got the best CSR advice in my career so far. The advice was that an organization needs to be constantly agile in its CSR space. Even the best laid plans for CSR may require altering. To be sustainable, your CSR work needs to be flexible. This could include adjusting budgets, redirecting investments of time, and quickly identifying trusted nonprofit partners to launch new programs or adjust existing ones. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic several organizations, including Stanbic Bank, had to re-adjust their CSR plans and budgets to join the fight against the pandemic. By being adaptive with our CSR, our programs have remained relevant and timely.

 

How can CSR activities be used to empower women?

A key challenge to women’s empowerment globally is the unequal distribution of resources. The lack of access to education, economic opportunities and financial inclusion all threaten women in their efforts to become empowered.

Increased educational attainment from women is key for ensuring greater economic growth. At Stanbic Bank, we believe that education CSR Projects for young girls is critical. It is for this reason that we have partnered with numerous organizations to ensure that girls are in schools. Through its multiple CSR projects, the Bank has built schools, implemented mentorship programs and introduced scholarships all in its quest to ensure that girls are educated.

The gender gap in access to financial services further restricts women in their efforts to be economically empowered and financially included. According to the Bank of Zambia National Financial Inclusion Strategy women remain modestly more financially excluded than men, however, there is evidence that the gap is narrowing. Financial inclusion among women increased from 34 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2015, yet these overall figures mask important differences in the type and quality of financial services used by different genders. Most notably, men are significantly more likely than women to use bank services, electronic payments, and formal sources of borrowing; while women are significantly more likely to use informal savings groups such as Village Banking. This demonstrates that significant progress is yet to be made to ensure that women have equal access to and use of regulated financial products and services. To ensure this is achieved, Stanbic Bank through its Anakazi Banking initiative, has formalized Village Banking to ensure funds are tracked through the banking system. This process has also included financial education and training for women through CSR projects to ensure women are financially included.

 

Describe your perfect day.

A day for me is perfect when I can help better someone’s life. There is nothing as gratifying as helping others achieve beyond their dreams. Stanbic Bank aims to create a robust, resilient and sustainable business in which our clients can have confidence, our communities can trust, and our other stakeholders can take pride. Our continuing success in this endeavor depends, in part, on our ability to identify and address social and ethical factors which present risks to our business or offer opportunities to support our stakeholders in a more sustainable way. These can affect our reputation, drive employee engagement, and help manage risks of lending, leverage savings and secure new revenue streams. The broader role we play as a bank in our communities and with our stakeholders reinforces this trust and confidence.

What differentiates us from other banks in Zambia is that Zambia is our home and we drive her growth. This growth includes the difference we make in the communities we operate in: the children we educate in the schools we build; the small businesses we invest in; the lives saved in the hospitals we support. A perfect day for me is when we work together to change lives by not only adding value to individuals and communities, but by also ensuring that the changes we make are sustainable to these communities.

Celebrating Women in CSR – Yuyo Nachali-Kambikambi

As part of International Women’s Month to celebrate the achievements of women, we continue our series to appreciate Women in CSR with another interview of Yuyo Nachali-Kambikambi, the Head of Corporate Communications, Government Relations and CSR at Airtel Zambia.

 

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and the number of years you have been CSR practitioner.

My major role and responsibility as a CSR practitioner is to ensure that the Company I am representing is socially responsible and helping unlock the potential of the communities in which we operate. I have been a practitioner for 20 years now.

Tell us about someone or something (mentor, friend, hero, incident) who or that affected or influenced your CSR journey, and how.

I have always been intrigued by the CSR concept from the time I worked as a journalist. Having worked on the features ‘desk’ I always found it more fulfilling to write articles about how communities had been helped to change their environments or indeed been uplifted economically after interventions from companies through corporate social investment programs.

 

How has CSR/CSI evolved at your organisation?

I believe that while CSR or CSI remains the same in the real sense, it’s the focus that changes over time for any institution. For instance many years ago the focus could have been to make sure that people in the rural setting moved from having pit latrines to having flushable toilets, while now with the COVID 19 pandemic, the focus has shifted to understanding how best to help communities during these unprecedented times.

 

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

I am still and am sure will be for a long time to come, extremely proud of my colleagues and co-workers at Airtel who came together during the peak of the pandemic last year and decided to contribute monies from their own salaries which enabled the company to buy over 2000 masks and over 2000 hand sanitizers which were handed over to help the Education and Health sectors.

 

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be, in line with CSR?

One major change I would make in the Industry is have more companies realise that CSR is not a competition…CSR is about people….it is about lives and the communities we all live in, therefore collaboration and partnerships should be the norm to make even greater change and impact.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

“When you don’t agree with your boss, say it…respectfully and honestly and you will always have a better conscious than thinking ‘I should have said something’ after the fact.”

 

How can CSR activities be used to empower women?

As we know women are usually the most vulnerable in societies but the most hardworking (i hope the men won’t come after me for saying this). But in all fairness, there is an age old saying that once you educate a girl, you have educated the whole village and I think this is true with empowerment programs. I know for a fact that women have excelled much more and looked after their nuclear families and beyond when empowered. It could be through giving them seed money for agricultural projects or simply adding skills to their knowledge which could be in the form of chicken rearing, fish farming or even batik making.

 

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day is when my company does great CSR projects that not only make a difference in the communities but truly ‘changes lives’.

Celebrating Women in CSR – Lomthunzi Mbewe

As part of International Women’s Month to celebrate the achievements of women, we kick off our series to appreciate Women in CSR with an interview of Lomthunzi Mbewe, the Community and Stakeholder Relations Manager at Lubambe Copper Mine Limited.

 

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and the number of years you have been a CSR/CSI practitioner.

I have worked in CSR for 2 years since 2019. My role is to provide leadership and oversight in Lubambe Copper Mine’s Community investments in various areas of strategic an economic interest such as – Education, Health, Agriculture (through sustainable businesses mostly in agriculture), Infrastructure Development.

I also provide oversight in ensuring we have a Social license to operate by developing stakeholder engagement initiatives, project planning and execution, my team and I also assess the comprehensive needs of various stakeholders before implementing Community programs.

Tell us about someone or something (mentor, friend, hero, incident) who or that affected or influenced your CSR journey, and how.

As you can rightly tell, I am relatively new to the CSR space. I have worked longest on the other side of the spectrum; facilitating for FDI into Zambia, and it is here in my previous life, that I took an interest in Impact Investing. I have always had a very good understanding of the many socioeconomic challenges that an average Zambian faces in their day-to-day- lacking- lacking clean water, lacking access to basic necessities, amenities, malnutrition and a whole myriad of issues we are confronted with when you step into the streets.

When the opportunity presented, I took a real leap of faith to crossover and join industry and delve into working with communities and be a part of real time impact. That is what influenced my decision- to be part of a greater cause and truly empower people out of hopelessness.

How has CSR/CSI evolved at your organization?

I would say the basic understanding of CSR has taken a whole new dimension- traditionally CSR was almost appeasement to the local community for conducting mining activities in the host area. So where before we had Corporate philanthropy- donations, donations and more donations we are now shifting into actual scrutiny of community needs and actual viability of any programs we design.

I do not believe CSR/CSI is static- it is evolutionary and it is evident at Lubambe Copper Mine because not only are we aligning programs to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are also keeping up with the whole movement on actual social investments that create value.

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

I have many things that I can point at as a point of pride. But I would have to say that every time my team and I are collaborating with actual experts in various fields and domesticating programs to address community needs and we begin to note actual impact- that is always something I sit back and say “Another win!”.

I am particularly happy to have such wide networks that we are able to leverage other stakeholder strengths and continue to provide training to the communities in very important life skills such as financial literacy, conservation farming, fingerling production, leadership, and exposing them to so many other opportunities- this is also something I am particularly proud of.

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be, in line with CSR?

That’s just it. I have the POWER and I have the support to actually make changes. The Mining industry is so male dominated- the representation is for every female employee, there’s 10 times the number of men- literally. I have come into this space and I hope many more women will. Its only when we actually take the leap of faith and work alongside men as equals that any significant change can happen in the Industry.

In community work- I am happy to report that I have actually introduced deliberate and what I like to call women-centric programs. This is programs specifically tailored to be women-led. We are working with cooperatives that are led by women in so many areas so the actual change is already happening at a small scale and I am optimistic this will transcend the cooperatives and spill over into more and more women-inclusive programs.

What is the best advice you have ever received in your career?

I have had the privilege to work with very solid and good brains with many years’ experience in their particular fields. I am always receiving wise counsel from colleagues that have more work experience than I do. The best advice I have ever received is to not limit myself and my abilities.

How can CSR activities be used to empower women?

We need to develop programs that deliberately include women and not in a relegated position of support or cheerleader but in the actual formulation and working alongside men to implement. Equal benefit must also be taken into consideration, there is really no value in continuing or gatekeeping the hierarchy or patriarchy in the mining industry and as a spill over in mining communities. Every program formulated must include women equally.

Describe your perfect day.

A perfect day for me is the day I will wake up to hear we are finally over and done with COVID-19. But on another note, a perfect day is one where I can tick off everything on my to-do list as having done very well; woke up early, exercised, ate a healthy meal, drank enough water, read a book, did not complain, preserved my mental health and spoke to each member of my family.