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THERE are no dull moments when Eunice Maluleke, head of the MTN Foundation, gets down to work to put a smile in someone's face.
Whether it's donating blankets or giving big cheques to nongovernmental organisations doing community development work, Maluleke is most happy when she knows she has saved a soul.
As head of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) division at MTN, Maluleke has spent more than R80million on community development projects.
Describing her job as a ministry, Maluleke says her company has taken up education, entrepreneurship, health and arts and culture as priority projects because they hope to half poverty by 2014.
Q: How are you making a difference in communities with the projects that you have chosen?
A: On education, our focus is school connectivity, maths and science and interactive tele-teaching.
Our tele-teaching programme links schools with the required resources. The programme promotes learning and teaching as well as addresses educator shortages. It also links pupils from various schools.
On health, we create lifestyle management. We focus on diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and cholesterol, which are becoming more prevalent in our communities. We also focus on TB and HIV-Aids.
We also do tele-medicine, which provides the best medical facilities to communities, which would otherwise not have it.
With arts and culture our focus is the preservation and improvement of the livelihoods of artwork.
We also train community artists to produce quality products, teach them how to market their work give them access to he market through exhibitions.
On entrepreneurship, we provide business opportunities for communities.
We help them assess economic opportunities and how they can be made viable.
Q: What do you think are the key areas in CSR today and why should the focus be on those areas?
A: What we have are opportunities. We have to open our eyes to poverty, which is really high. Even with the current spend, poverty is still very high. No single entity can do it all, we need partnerships to effect change.
Q: How important is the involvement of staff in CSR and how is MTN staff involved in your initiatives?
A: Staff involvement is very critical. Our 21 Days of Yello Care encourages employees to identify programmes they want to support and to draw up business plans. The Foundation provides funding. Employees have also painted crèches and schools and donated their own money.
Q: Do you think South Africa is takingCSR seriously?
A: I think so. There has been an increase in the number of organisations doing community development and it could be because of BBBEE or the codes of good governance. Or maybe organisations have woken up to the needs of communities.
Q: What is the one lesson you've learnt since you started doing CSR?
A: I have learnt that communities want to take charge of their lives. People want to be treated with dignity and respect.
My pleasure is to engage them and ask them what kind of help they need.
Q: You were head of the Transnet Foundation before you joined MTN, why the interest in CSR?
A: I love CSR because it's about developing humanity and making sure communities are empowered.
Q: Do women have a role to play in CSR?
A: Women are the best. They are more passionate, their hearts are in the right place.
Q: As a woman doing CSR, do you find yourself biased towards women development initiatives?
A: Yes, because women are the ones who run the organisations, they do so for survival. We aim to make them to self-reliant.