Ford South Africa Paves the Way for Social Transformation with R45-million CSR Investment

In a nation grappling with the challenges of poverty, high levels of unemployment and a lack of access to essential healthcare and education, Ford South Africa is driving positive social transformation through its impactful corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

Ford’s unwavering commitment to creating lasting change in the country has been bolstered through the commitment of around R45-million in the last year to various community projects and initiatives to help address these issues.

South Africa's socio-economic landscape is complex, marked by disparities that demand comprehensive interventions. Ford South Africa's CSR initiatives aim to rise to the occasion, going beyond conventional philanthropy to address root causes and foster long-term progress. 

These initiatives showcase a diversified approach, illustrating Ford's dedication to holistic and enduring change.

Ford’s Centenary Initiatives

In celebration of its 100th anniversary in South Africa, Ford South Africa has introduced three initiatives focused on making an enduring contribution to education and community development. These initiatives, which were announced in 2023 and will collectively be valued at R85-million once completed, comprise significant projects targeting the empowerment and education of youth across various age groups, from toddlers to young adults. In collaboration with Gift of the Givers Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Ford SA has initiated the following community-building projects to mark its centenary:

Gift of the Givers Foundation – 100 Maths and Science labs

Ford SA and the Ford Motor Company Fund, in partnership with Gift of the Givers, are constructing 100 Maths and Science laboratories which are being donated to primary schools across the country. Utilising donated shipping containers from Maersk, which are converted into fully equipped maths and science labs by Gift of the Givers, this initiative is a bold response to the lack of infrastructure and resources faced by disadvantaged communities across the nation. Approximately R13-million went towards this project in 2023.

Nelson Mandela Foundation: 100 Early Childhood Development Centres

Teaming up with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Ford SA is funding the construction of 100 early childhood development (ECD) centres in disadvantaged areas, replacing dilapidated nursery schools and ensuring compliance with government standards. As part of its investment for 2023, Ford SA's financial commitment of R15-million will be dedicated to constructing new facilities. These ECD centres will be equipped with classrooms, a kitchen, toilet facilities, and a sick bay, creating a secure and favourable learning environment for young children.

Gift of the Givers Foundation – 100 Scholarships

In another Ford SA Centenary initiative, Ford Fund is allocating over R10-million through the Gift of the Givers to establish 100 scholarships targeting highly motivated young South Africans in under-resourced communities. These scholarships aim to provide opportunities for STEM-related careers and apprenticeship programs within the motor and advanced manufacturing industries. Exceptional students will have the unique opportunity to complete apprenticeships at Ford South Africa, contributing to a skilled workforce in the automotive sector.

Unjani Clinics – Health Pods

"One of the key aspects of Ford’s CSR initiatives is our commitment to growing economic empowerment in tandem with healthcare improvement. Our partnership with Unjani Clinics is a testament to this commitment," says Esther Buthelezi, Government Affairs and Transformation Director at Ford South Africa.

One notable initiative is the collaboration with Unjani Clinics to launch Health Pods. Unjani Clinics, a network owned by black women, is renowned for delivering accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare to communities in need. Ford South Africa is supporting the project through the donation of two locally produced Ford Rangers to the organisation in January 2024. Ford Fund, via Global Giving, will contribute almost R1.3-million to cover the construction and operational expenses of two health pods for the first 12 months. 

These contributions signify more than monetary support – they symbolise a commitment to community well-being, creating permanent employment for four community members and significantly enhancing primary healthcare services in townships and rural communities. This strategic collaboration marks a notable milestone in Ford’s dedication to holistic community development and accessible healthcare solutions.

Enactus Ford College Community Challenge (C3)

Enactus, an esteemed international non-profit organisation, is on a mission to inspire students to catalyse positive change within their communities through entrepreneurial initiatives. 

The Ford College Community Challenge (C3), a signature educational programme of the Ford Fund, in partnership with Enactus, aims to foster innovative solutions among university students to address critical community needs. Each year, Ford Fund provides four local projects with grants of $5 000 (approximately R90 000) each, enabling them to further implement their creative community upliftment initiatives.

In celebration of innovation and community impact, Ford South Africa also provided a grant of R1.1-million to support the national Enactus champions, Central University of Technology, which was crowned in July during the national competition, to travel to Utrecht, Netherlands, in October to represent South Africa, and to compete in the Enactus World Cup against 31 countries. 

Ford SA also sponsored a representative from each of the four universities that competed in the 2023 Ford C3 competition to attend the Enactus World Cup. This initiative not only enabled students to broaden their horizons but also facilitated learning from diverse community development projects, networking with global peers and industry leaders, and establishing enduring connections for future collaboration. Ford’s ongoing partnership with Enactus underscores its dedication to nurturing innovation, empowering students to make a difference in their communities, and fostering a global network of change-makers.

READ Educational Trust – Rally to Read

In a dedicated effort to combat low literacy levels, the Ford Fund and Ford SA actively support the READ Educational Trust's Rally to Read program in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, and in Pretoria, Gauteng. This multifaceted initiative strategically focuses on teacher training, the provision of quality resources and much-needed learning materials, along with comprehensive community support. 

The Rally to Read project in Pretoria was launched in 2023 as part of a three-year plan, with a contribution of R1.4-million per year. This has positively influenced 4 866 learners in Gauteng province. The initiative has resulted in the delivery of 7 116 educational materials, fostering a tangible and positive educational environment. Notably, Ford South Africa is directing its efforts to support six schools in the Gauteng province, with a specific focus on two schools each in Mamelodi, Nellmapius, and Eersterust – priority areas aligned with the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria.

The Rally to Read in Nelson Mandela Bay completed its second year in 2023, also with R1.4-million in funding, benefitting approximately 4 100 primary school learners at eight schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, which is home to Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant. 

SOS Children’s Village and Medicos Special School

Ford South Africa’s steadfast support for SOS Children’s Village and the Medicos Special School goes beyond mere financial aid, highlighting a sustained commitment to these institutions. Esther Buthelezi, Government Affairs and Transformation Director at Ford South Africa, notes: "For more than a decade, Ford has been providing annual monetary contributions to support House 6 at SOS Children’s Village in Mamelodi. This annual monetary contribution covers the needs of the children in the house, including school uniforms and stationery."

In addition to its support for SOS Children’s Village, Ford South Africa annually contributes funds to Medicos, a special school catering to the unique needs of children. This targeted grant is specifically allocated to meet the educational and facility requirements of the school, encompassing vital areas such as baking, woodwork, and printing. Ford’s support for Medicos Special School dates back to 1997, reflecting a long-standing partnership marked by renovations, consistent financial contributions, and regular donations and visits to the school. 

Vehicle Donations

In a strategic move to bolster hands-on learning in the field of mechanical and automotive training, Ford South Africa has donated a total of 16 locally produced Ford Rangers to various training institutions across the country. These tooling trial (TT) units are integral to Ford's testing processes before mass production, and now serve as invaluable assets for students conducting practical training. 

The donation spans various institutions, including Kyalami paramedics, Tshwane University of Technology, Rescue Life paramedics and Maluti TVET College underscoring Ford's commitment to widespread educational enhancement. With a combined value of R8-million, this donation significantly elevates the learning experience for both students and trainers. Ford’s dedication to fostering the next generation of automotive professionals shines through in these substantial contributions, affirming its pivotal role in propelling education and skills development within the industry.

Duduzile Nxele, Corporate Communications Manager, emphasises Ford South Africa's holistic approach to CSR in 2023: "The company remains steadfast in creating a positive and lasting impact on the lives of South Africans, reinforcing its role as a responsible corporate citizen," she says. “Ford's CSR initiatives underscore the importance of corporate contributions in addressing multifaceted challenges, promoting inclusivity, and supporting sustainable development in the country.”