Interview with Setlogane Manchidi: Head of CSI - Investec

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By CharterQuest, 04 November 2019

The Future CFO Magazine Managing Editor, Valentine Nti sat down with Setlogane Manchidi to discuss the tremendous contribution of Investec to education and entrepreneurship in South Africa, including his passionate leadership of the bank's CSI strategy.

Thank you very much for making the time to speak to our readers. 

Only a pleasure! 

To start with, why is education and entrepreneurship so prominent in your CSI strategy. 

We needed to create opportunities for young people to become active economic participants in society. So, we decided education is one way and entrepreneurship is another. It was also important that we align it to our business. For instance, much as we know CSI can be practiced around food or healthcare, we decided companies like Tiger Brands or Discovery could make that the focus of their CSI. 

Since we are a financial services organisation, it is best to apply our CSI to educate and develop young chartered accountants and create opportunities right from high schools and universities for young people to qualify. We broadened the education focus to more than just financial sector related qualifications but many of these are considered scarce skills. Teach a man how to fish as opposed to providing them fish every day, that’s why education has a very fundamental importance; entrepreneurship, equally so because it facilitates job creation – which is one of our major challenges as a country! 

You have headed CSI at Investec for over a decade. How instrumental have you been in shaping its philosophy, policy and strategy? 

I must give Investec credit in that one of our key values which existed long before I walked in, is that of unselfish contribution to society: giving back is part of our DNA, it is part of who we have always been. Perhaps there is an element of me coming in and giving direction as to its scope –but credit to Investec for the latitude, the support and the conducive environment within which my colleagues and I have had to champion its contribution to society. 

Teachers' training is a key feature in your CSI strategy. Do you think teachers' training in South Africa is sufficiently practical? 

If you attended teachers’ training college when they used to be around -a bulk of your time was spent on experiential learning and practical application -it threw me at the heart of issues. Today, we take teachers to universities; although good, they don’t get enough of practical experience. This is why on paper, they produce distinctions but cannot seem to get their youngsters to produce the same -practically! This is because they have not picked up enough as they could have. Sadly in South Africa, we have closed down these teachers’ training colleges. 

Why does Investec not have a separate foundation to steer its CSI strategy as other companies do? 

For CSI to be successful, it needs to be integrated into the business. I would argue that establishing a foundation external to the business is not always the best move because half the time, if you walk 

into these businesses with foundations and ask employees what their key CSI focus is, not many can actually answer you. At Investec, CSI is integrated into the business and is on an equal footing as Marketing, HR or any other function. 

Let's talk a bit more broadly about corporate social investment (CSI) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Where are we as corporate South Africa?

If you look at the western world, CSR is much broader - it includes our impact on society and the planet; that is whether and how, including the ethics with which we generate profits; whereas in South Africa, we seem to have narrowed it down mainly to social development. Although there is an acknowledgement of broader sustainability imperatives, some companies fail to recognise that CSI is important but only a small part of CSR. 

What would you say to a typical CFO who argues that instead of narrowing, we have indeed broadened it since the advent of the 1st King Report on corporate governance in the 90’s?

To read the full interview, subscribe to the FREE February issue of The Future CFO Magazine.