2020 Sappi Southern Africa Corporate Citizenship Report


As the world is changing so we need to adapt our thinking about the skills we need to succeed and keep ahead of change.

What is this about?

Education liberates the intellect, unlocks the imagination and is fundamental for self-respect. It's the key to prosperity and opens a world of opportunities, making it possible for each of us to contribute to a progressive, healthy society. Learning benefits every human being and should be available to all.

Why is this a priority goal and why does it matter?

For South Africa: According to the International Monetary Fund,3 about half of South Africa's students drop out of school before completing secondary education. Among the learners who write the end of high school examinations, about a quarter fail. Moreover, less than 5% of students who start primary school end up with a university qualification.

For Sappi: Our business depends on people and having a pool of talented, skilled people available. This adds value to Sappi and our stakeholders.

In addition, low educational achievement leads to low productivity growth and high levels of poverty, unemployment, and inequality.

3 Mlachila, M. and Moeletsi, T.: Struggling to Make the Grade: A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Weak Outcomes of South Africa's Education System, IMF Working Paper, WP/19/47
"I am in the process of buying a car. I am almost done with my mother's house. We will move in anytime. All thanks to you. The way you believed in me, especially during the very difficult times when I was doing first year. I had no one at the University; you checked up on me almost every day."

Nelisiwe Mbatha -
B. Pharmacy, previous PROTEC scholar

What is Sappi doing about it?

We are committed to promoting quality education and training both internally and externally.

The pace of technological innovation, including artificial intelligence. Growing populations with increasing rates of urbanisation. These are just some of the forces that are shaping our world. It's a world that's changing rapidly – one in which the skills of today might not be appropriate for the solutions of tomorrow. Recognising this, we want to make sure our great people are equipped for current and future challenges. Which is why we invest in bursary programmes in disciplines ranging from chemical, industrial and mechanical engineering to megatronics. We also operate Engineer and Forester in Training programme improvements, provide internships and formal technical training programmes, make available online technical courses across all mills and management and leadership development programmes. In addition, all our people have access to detailed development plans and can select online or classroom training from over 4,000 approved courses and, in certain instances, have mentors to help them achieve specific development goals. In FY20, each SSA employee received an average of 57 hours of training.

International research shows that language and cognitive development are especially important during the first six months to three years of life, and that the more stimulating the early environment, the more a child develops and learns. Unfortunately, many of South Africa's young children, particularly in rural areas where our forestry operations are situated, are not exposed to early learning. That's why we stepped in to support early childhood development (ECD).

In KwaZulu-Natal, caregivers from Sappi communities receive training through the Training and Resources in Early Education (TREE) organisation. In Mpumalanga, we developed an ECD Centre of Excellence at the Sappi Elandshoek community in partnership with Penreach, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and social impact organisation working towards educational excellence in disadvantaged rural communities in Mpumalanga.

We support PROTEC, a non-profit organisation operating nationally in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education.

The Sappi Skills Centres at Ngodwana and Saiccor Mills provide structured technical vocational skills training to increase employability and income generation. Candidates are also identified for artisan positions. Highlighting the agility and adaptability we thrive on, when lockdown restrictions meant we had to reduce the number of trainees at our Skills Centres, it created a new opportunity to manufacture cloth masks for Sappi and local communities. The approximately 73,000 masks made by trainees saved Sappi in excess of ZAR1.9 million. This venture has progressed into the manufacture of overalls, resulting in further savings to Sappi while creating new employment opportunities. The plan is to spin off the venture into an independent supplier, run by previously unemployed local youth.

Looking forward: Our Thrive25 target linked with SDGs 1 and 4

Advance broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) to Level 1

How can I support this goal?

Donate books to public libraries or schools in need

Volunteer your skills – if you can teach someone to read, understand maths and science better or become computer literate, that will open up opportunities for them

In some instances, girls are pulled out of school early to get married. Start conversations that allow for open discussions aimed at finding solutions