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Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) is a corporate pioneer in community upliftment, empowering workers during apartheid and now supporting the local community of Uitenhage and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
The company is "driven by a belief in sharing the rewards of its success.
Its corporate social investment (CSI) strategy invests in areas of critical need in its operating environment," says Nonkqubela Maliza, VWSA's director of corporate and government affairs.
VWSA believes that running a profitable company goes hand in -hand with investing in the communities in which it operates.
In 1988 VWSA set up the VW Community Trust to spearhead a long-term commitment to support the impoverished communities surrounding its operations, she says.
Thanks to its success as a market leader, VWSA is able to invest approximately R20million in CSI projects each year, both in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro where the manufacturing facilities are situated, as well as in Gauteng which is home to the marketing department and VWSA's parts distribution hub.
According to Weza Moss, corporate and government affairs manager, VWSA focuses on "cultivating the learning, social and creative skills needed by the broader South African family to empower themselves socially and economically".
The VW Community Trust achieves this through community projects in the areas of education, health, community development, youth, and sport.
Education is "arguably the most critical point of departure for skills development and sustainable socio-economic upliftment," says Moss.
VWSA provides infrastructure support to schools, funds educational initiatives and provides bursaries for some of the region's most promising students - both at school and university.
In the last five years alone, 500 bursary recipients (of which more than 50percent were black women) have studied towards qualifications in key skills demand areas.
Jobs are being created for those who graduate, both within the Volkswagen plant itself and in the broader community.
VWSA is a founder of the Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative (Uddi), a public-private partnership with local government agencies. Since its founding in 2002, the Uddi has recorded successes in the agriculture, agri-tourism and manufacturing sectors.
Health: combating HIV-Aids. VWSA's internationally recognised workplace HIV-Aids programme incorporates a community involvement component to which theVW Community Trust contributes close on R1 million a year.
VWSA also works closely with local service providers and government to help Aids orphans, train general practitioners and fund Aids education. VWSA was also instrumental in setting up the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Coalition Against HIV-Aids and is an active member of the South African Business Coalition on HIV and Aids (Sabcoha).
Charity: Charitable organisations that benefit from VWSA's support include the Nelson Mandela Bay Community Chest, to which VWSA has been the biggest donor over the last 10 years with a R1,5million investment.
There is also the Cancer Association, to which the trust has donated R300000 over the last three years; and the Missionvale Care Centre, where theTrust's R300000 donation has gone to health and wellness education and training and establishing an HIV-Aids care centre.
Sport: Raising the bar
Some R4million of VWSA's CSI budget is invested in sport.
Over and above its principal sponsorship deal with local Premier League outfits Moroka Swallows and the newly promoted Bay United, the company continues to make significant investments in youth development in sport.
VWSA is also the main sponsor of the Bay United U15 and U17 teams, as well as the Bay United Academy, a youth talent feeder for the professional team.