Social and Community Development: Overview of CSI Spend

Social and community development was supported by 74% of companies and received 17% of CSI expenditure in 2021.

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  • Almost half of all spend on social and community development (48%) went towards welfare organisations.

  • Infrastructure, facilities, and equipment received, at 23%, the second-largest share of CSI spend on social and community development.

  • Despite the shockingly high unemployment rates in South Africa, the average spend on job-creation programmes declined to 18%, from 21% in 2020. This could be because job-creation programmes are now captured as part of skills development, rather than CSI.

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  • Youth (people aged between 15 and 29) are still the main beneficiaries of CSI spend on social and community development (32%), although the allocation decreased from 39% in 2020.

  • The average spend on unemployed persons increased to 14%, from 11% in 2020.

  • For the first time, orphans and vulnerable children dropped to the third most supported target group. CSI social and community development spend on this group decreased to 11% in 2021, from 14% in 2020 and 23% in 2019.


Community action networks – a coordinated pandemic response

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the enormity of need was such that relief efforts by municipal and provincial authorities were frequently inadequate. Applying the principles of grassroots activism, an informal group of doctors, community leaders, teachers, social activists, and others came together to form the Cape Town Together (CTT) community action network (CAN) – a network of care that set out to provide assistance and support wherever it was needed. It was the first of 164 self-organising CANs established around the country, bringing together volunteers and resources to alleviate the plight of vulnerable community members. The CANs are affiliated with the CTT, but only in the sense that they share lessons and draw on collective experience – they have flat hierarchies and work collaboratively. Although fewer CANs have been active in 2021, the more than 50 that still exist are not just focusing on food relief, according to Pamela Silwana, Director of Organising for Work and head of the Gugulethu CAN. The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town is funding a CAN incubator that allows remaining CANs to pivot, explore social justice systems within their communities, and work more closely with different levels of government.

Langa CAN uses bicycles to deliver food to bedridden people

‘Sister’ CANs are paired up so that resources in more affluent areas can be shared with poorly resourced areas, for example, the Claremont CAN in the Western Cape paired with the Langa CAN, which was started by Mzikhona Mgedle.

Mgedle was retrenched from work and started the Langa Bicycle Hub to promote bicycles as a form of commuter transport. He started the CAN around the same time as his small business and quickly realised that his bicycles could be used to deliver food to people who could not get to community kitchens. “Our kitchen mamas prepared food and I would take half of that to our bedridden beneficiaries – sick, disabled or elderly people,” he says. Mgedle is discussing with local clinics whether his ‘bicycle brigade’ could deliver medication to physically challenged community members. The CAN has around 100 volunteers – mainly unemployed young women – and donors assist by paying service providers directly so the CAN does not have to handle money or compile reports. “We have a donor who pays Boxer to send provisions to our kitchens,” says Mgedle. “We get fewer donations than NPOs, but we make sure that resources reach the people who need them most.”

Brackenfell-Kraaifontein CAN provides food relief 

Pairing with a sister CAN, Lynn Hendricks and others started the Brackenfell-Kraaifontein CAN in March 2020. The CAN is being run as a project within the auspices of non-profit company Hearts in Action. “We started as three ladies communicating via a WhatsApp group, then more volunteers from the area signed up,”Hendricks relates.

The CAN, which had around 80 volunteers at the peak of its activity, has served well over a million meals since the pandemic hit. “Food doesn’t come from the CAN itself but from volunteers,”says Hendricks. “We try to source from one another before using donor funds – if an NPO receives a bulk donation of rice, we post about this on the WhatsApp group and a kitchen will claim it.”

Hendricks says CANs do not want to ‘take over’, but they can become quasi-formal networks in the future. “After all, the strength of the group lies in the volunteers who had existing kitchens before the CAN was started,” she says.


Source details: Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2021