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.