Cost: Zero. Sav­ing lives: Priceless.

A valu­able op­por­tu­nity for cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ments with a twist

Finweek English Edition - - Business strategy - SIZWEKAZI JEKWA

HAVE YOU EVER WON­DERED what it might be like to en­joy a quiet af­ter­noon tea with an in­ter­na­tional icon such as Nelson Man­dela? To sit with him and ask him what­ever you liked with­out fear of in­ter­rup­tion or em­bar­rass­ment?

Or per­haps you might have day­dreamed about go­ing to an all-ex­penses paid Pre­mier League foot­ball match with South African soc­cer leg­end Lu­cas Radebe? Or maybe if you’re an as­pir­ing en­tre­pre­neur, you might pre­fer a one-on-one power lunch with a top busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive such as Pa­trice Mot­sepe?

Those are just some of the many “mon­ey­can’t-buy” oc­ca­sions that or­di­nary peo­ple will be able to bid for at one of the more in­no­va­tive char­ity events in South Africa: the MasterCard Priceless Mo­ments char­ity ini­tia­tive. Al­though the event is only in its sec­ond year, it’s grown into one of the big­gest char­ity drives of its kind, both in South Africa and abroad.

The ini­tia­tive was born from a visit to the Wal­ter Sisulu Pae­di­atric Car­diac Cen­tre for Africa (WSPCCA) by for­mer Pres­i­dents Clin­ton and Man­dela in 2006. The story goes that Clin­ton was so moved by what he saw there that he im­me­di­ately do­nated US$30 000 (R210 000) to help two chil­dren re­ceive heart surgery.

Not to be out­done by any Amer­i­can, Man- dela and Al­bertina Sisulu, widow of the late great Wal­ter Sisulu – who the unit is named af­ter and Man­dela’s own life­long men­tor – of­fered their time to be auc­tioned off to raise funds for the unit.

Since then the drive has grown to in­clude a long list of both South African and in­ter­na­tional celebri­ties and busi­ness­men who give of their time to share a “priceless mo­ment” with a win­ning bid­der. MasterCard came on

“I al­ways joke

with Mr Man­dela – the pa­tron of the cen­tre – that one of the chil­dren we’ve treated will grow up

to score a win­ning goal

against SA”

board this year as the ma­jor spon­sor, ab­sorb­ing all the di­rect costs of the event. As such, they’ve claimed the name to call it the MasterCard Priceless Mo­ments ini­tia­tive, which made for an im­pec­ca­ble fit with their on­go­ing “there are some things money can’t buy” mar­ket­ing cam­paign.

The event has be­come one of the pri­mary sources of fund­ing for the WSPCCA, which con­ducts an av­er­age of 67 open heart surgery op­er­a­tions a year on dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren from across Africa who suf­fer from con­gen­i­tal heart de­fects.

“With a to­tal of 16 beds, the unit is one of the big­gest of its kind in the world and the only one in Africa. So far we’ve cor­rected the heart de­fects of 150 chil­dren from dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties all over Africa with­out cost to their par­ents,” says Dr Robin Kins­ley of the WSPCCA.

Kins­ley adds: “I al­ways joke with Mr Man­dela – who is the pa­tron of the cen­tre – that one of th­ese days one of the chil­dren we’ve treated will grow up to score a win­ning goal against SA in the African Cup and then where will we be?”

Of Africa’s 1bn pop­u­la­tion, 50% are chil­dren and one in ev­ery 100 is born with a heart de­fect. For all those chil­dren, their first and only chance at life is WSPCCA, since sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties don’t ex­ist out­side SA. Al­though the Wal­ter Sisulu unit will re­ceive 50% of the funds raised, six other chil­dren’s char­i­ties will also ben­e­fit from the ini­tia­tive: namely, the Child­hood Can­cer Foun­da­tion, the Reach for a Dream Foun­da­tion, Cot­lands, the South African Red Cross So­ci­ety, the Ithemba Trust and St Mary’s Hospi­tal.

The Priceless Mo­ments cam­paign presents a unique op­por­tu­nity for a new kind of cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ment (CSI) for com­pa­nies in SA, one that re­quires par­tic­i­pat­ing ex­ec­u­tives to give of their time in­stead of pro­vid­ing fund­ing.

This model of CSI has proved to be an ef­fec­tive and pro­duc­tive form of em­pow­er­ment. How­ever, al­though many com­pa­nies recog­nise the value in the idea, they get few op­por­tu­ni­ties to utilise it. The Priceless Mo­ments drive is such an op­por­tu­nity.

The list of all lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional celebri­ties at­tend­ing will be re­vealed on 7 May and the auc­tion will go live in a gala event on 14 May at Jo­han­nes­burg’s Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

The auc­tion will be con­ducted on eBay, the world’s largest on­line auc­tion web­site, for 10 days and is ex­pected to raise a cool R30m ($4,25m) – the equiv­a­lent of 300 heart op­er­a­tions.

“It costs a mas­sive R100 000 to R200 000 to treat just one child for a heart con­di­tion, which is more than most of their par­ents will earn in a life­time,” says Lynda Bleazard of the WSPCCA.

Some of the con­firmed high profile par­tic­i­pants in­clude Lu­cas Radebe, Pa­trice Mostepe, Ryk Neeth­ling, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Shaun Pol­lock, Miriam Makeba and Whitey Bas­son.

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