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CSI (Corporate Social Investment)

Chemical Initiatives, as a business, is focused on the manufacture of sulphur-based chemicals and the trading of bulk chemicals. But for us, this is more than just business: we are aware of our responsibilities to manage direct impacts on our stakeholders, communities and, critically, the environment.

AECI Specialty Chemicals Cluster has a real awareness of its Corporate Social Investment responsibilities and its concrete manifestation of these principles, extend, in practice, to a proactive approach to assisting people in becoming empowered and self-sufficient.

Community involvement


AECI is committed to the well-being of the communities in which it operates and to vulnerable communities in South Africa in general. Structures in place to support efforts in this regard include the AECI CSI Fund (“CSI Fund”), the AECI Community Education and Development Trust (“AECI Trust”) and the Tiso AEL Development Trust.

AECI adopts a selective and honest approach in its engagement with the development sector – a complex arena with many role players all striving to improve the lives of vulnerable groups across the country. It is recognised that the sustainable value of companies’ investments can be maximised through partnerships with leading organisations and initiatives in the field.

Advancing potential, promoting good practice and evolving ideas are the objectives of AECI’s investments in the promotion of sustainable socio-economic development. Strategic areas of interest include education, skills development and the holistic care and support of children. The principles of empowerment, partnership, good governance, innovation and effective leadership underlie all social development initiatives.

In 2013, the Group contributed over R10 million to socio-economic development in South Africa. The CSI Fund invested over R6 million in not-for-profit organisations and educational institutions with grants ranging from R25 000 to R2,7 million. Over 20 organisations and 5 000 individuals benefited from this.

No-cost leasing of land and buildings owned by AECI to non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”) and development related contributions from Group companies benefited additional organisations, individuals and communities.


The CSI Fund was restructured in 2013 to focus on education; infants and orphans and vulnerable children (“OVC”) care and support; skills development for people with disabilities; and environmental initiatives. The driving principle is that CSI is an investment and not “giving for and to charity”. Better monitoring and evaluation are in place, improved reporting is expected, grants have targeted outcomes and are impact-based, expectations are high but realistic, and the importance of honest partnerships is emphasised.

The education component aims to improve learner outcomes at primary, secondary and tertiary levels by enhancing the quality of and access to teaching and learning. These investments took various forms in 2013, from assisting schools to purchase busses transporting disadvantaged students to reduce the transport burden in rural Eastern Cape, to funding teacher and learner development programmes in the North West and Limpopo.

It was also recognised that new projects sometimes need an injection of resources before they can evolve to their full potential. As part of the “evolving great ideas” platform, AECI entered into a five-year partnership with the University of the North West in 2012. In response to the shortage of adequately prepared learners entering tertiary education for careers in scarce skills, the University is piloting the Science Engineering Technology and Health Academy at the Ferdinand Postma High School in Potchefstroom. This initiative is a collaborative effort between the University, the North West Department of Basic Education and various donors. It aims to prepare learners for professional careers in the fields of engineering, medicine, finance and economics, and mathematics and science.

To advance the potential of young minds interested in science, AECI’s five-year partnership with Wits is seeing 4 000 first-year students accessing a state-of the- art chemistry laboratory on campus. The laboratory is part of the Wits Science Stadium, a large-scale infrastructure project that also offers specialist laboratory facilities for biology and physics. The Stadium was created in response to calls from government and industry to address the urgent need for suitably qualified and well educated science, engineering and technology graduates as South Africa grapples with global issues of climate change, clean energy, water management and disease.

Multi-year partnerships with several NGOs, including the Mahwelereng Centre of Hope in Limpopo, JICAMA and Action in Gauteng, support the provision of education and artisanal skilling for children and adults with disabilities. Community-based organisations, such as the St. Mungo’s Diepsloot Community Action, provide adult-based education and training and artisanal skilling for unemployed community members.

AECI also sees value in business-2-business support, assisting projects initiated by other businesses that show good practice and potential for growth. An example is the Virginia Jewellery School in the Free State. This Free Gold Foundation project aims to create sustainable jobs through training and qualifications in jewellery-making, boost the local economy through the beneficiation of gold and develop a jewellery hub for local and international markets.

The CSI Fund engaged with the “My Future My Career” initiative, a public-private partnership targeting more than 100 000 learners across the country, providing them with information about career options and respective educational requirements. A partnership with the NBI also ensured added development support nationally as part of the larger business community.

Social development activities centre on infant and OVC programmes to assist organisations working to improve the social, educational, health and psychosocial aspects of children’s development. This involves multi-year partnerships with NGOs that have illustrated good practice such as Nazareth House, COMPASS and Cotlands. An important aspect of their work is the emergency response they provide to abused and abandoned babies.

Another beneficiary of the “evolving great ideas” platform is the Shaken and Abused Baby Initiative (“SAABI”). This project was conceptualised in response to the highly publicised deaths of infants in 2012 due to severe abuse. The process of identifying such abuse immediately to protect the child and mitigation against further abuse is complex and requires highly specialised expertise. As such SAABI, in partnership with transforthe Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, is streamlining processes in Gauteng to optimise the mitigate of child abuse and potentially reduce incidences thereof. The planning and implementation of the initiative are being documented for further research and knowledge sharing with the long-term aim of rolling it out across the country.

The CSI Fund’s environmental programme will take shape from 2014. It will focus on environmental education and awareness, and green development. In 2013, as a starting point, funds were invested in the Emvelowise Women Adopt a River (“EWARP”) project. This is an inspiring display of the leadership of a young woman and a community of volunteers who, despite not receiving any compensation, are committed to cleaning seven streams and two rivers in the Folweni area near Umbogintwini in KwaZulu-Natal. EWARP received the eThekwini Mayor’s Award in the best Group in Environment category in 2013.


This Trust will be launching its strategy and issuing its first call for applications in 2014. AECI formed the AECI Community Education and Development Trust as part of its Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment imperative. The Trust is a 3,5% shareholder in AECI and its primary objective is to support the sustainable socio-economic empowerment of communities in South Africa in areas where AECI operates or has an interest. Its strategy includes an Education Programme with the developmental goal of building bridges to enable access to professional qualifications for young adults; a Skills Development Programme that seeks to increase the number of artisans and technical resources in the country; and the Water For Life programme which aims to provide education and awareness on issues of water conservation and strengthen efforts to provide potable water, especially to rural communities. It is expected that more than R10 million will be invested in 2014 – a pilot year that will test the robustness of the Trust’s strategy and objectives and implementation thereof.

The Trust’s Board of Trustees comprises three independent Trustees, two AECI Trustees and one AECI member. The Independent Trustees are accomplished in the business and academic arenas and have strong social capital. They provide a breadth of expertise in sectors including the sciences, disability and psychology. The AECI Trustees and member provide specialist knowledge in the areas of human capital, finance and business.


This Trust is funded through dividend income from its share ownership in AECI, and through contributions from the AECI CSI Fund and the AEL business. It is tasked with implementing AEL’s CSI strategy which focuses on education (specifically mathematics and science), health and social development. AEL’s international sites align their own initiatives with the same strategy but adapt them to fit the respective country’s socio-economic circumstances. Ensuring maximum impact of CSI initiatives is paramount and, accordingly, its investment is primarily in Tembisa in South Africa given the socio-economic needs in this area as well as its proximity to Modderfontein, AEL’s largest manufacturing facility. Beneficiaries include eight schools (four primary schools and four high schools).

They are supported through the Maths Centre, an NGO which equips both educators and leaners with requisite skills. The Centre enables access to resources and materials that facilitate the ease of teaching and learning with teaching aids, laboratory material, the incorporation of technology into learning, training workshops for teachers, coaching sessions for learners and workbooks for both teachers and the learners in these schools. The results of these efforts continue to be encouraging.

This Trust also works with the Community and Individual Association City Campus (“CIDA”), an institution that concentrates on access to affordable higher education for students from underprivileged backgrounds. The Trust’s partnership with CIDA ensures that students obtain a three-year business administration qualification with an opportunity to specialise in Information Communication Technology and/or Finance. A number of CIDA’s students are the first generation of graduates in their families. This can assist in breaking the generational poverty cycle in South Africa and contribute to changing the socio-economic status of these beneficiaries’ communities.

In health and social development, the Trust has partnered with Thuthukani Centre, a not-for-profit community organisation in Ivory Park in Tembisa, that seeks to respond to the plight of vulnerable children and orphans of HIV/Aids. Together with Thuthukani, the Trust furthers the delivery of early childhood development by helping children to get the proper preparation and foundation for their education careers.

Internationally, AEL operates predominantly in developing economies where businesses are confronted by socio-economic realities such as poverty, joblessness and the wage gap. AEL in all its countries of operation seeks to be a force for good. In Indonesia, for example, the company has partnered with its largest customer, Kaltim Prima Coal, to help children born with facial disabilities such as cleft palates gain access to the transformative surgery that the Smiles and Hope Programme runs in that country. In Zimbabwe AEL has partnered with the Tariro Hope Ithemba Trust, a charity organisation which benefits visually impaired and hard-of hearing children. In Zambia, AEL works with neighbouring communities in assisting the aged and vulnerable and in the roll-out of beneficial malaria prevention programmes.


4 225 employees are beneficiaries of this Trust, with 77% of them being Black. 20% of the share allocation has been allocated to Black Managers across the AECI Group in South Africa.

The objectives of the Trust are:

  • to recognise and reward employees who have enabled and continue to enable the success of the Company;
  • to align the interest of employees with those of shareholders; and
  • to improve the Group’s ability to attract, incentivise and retain high-performing Black employees and Managers.

Of the Trustees on the Trust’s Board three are independent, one is Company appointed and one has been elected by the beneficiaries. In line with the AECI Employees Share Trust agreement, a dividend in the sum of 29 cents per B ordinary share was approved by the AECI Board in February 2014 and will be paid to beneficiaries of this Trust in the second quarter of 2014.

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