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Against a background of the country’s unemployment rate and soaring poverty levels, the Collen Mashawana Foundation and the Department of Social Development (DSD) have entered into a partnership to improve lives of vulnerable communities.

Johannesburg philanthropist and businessman, Mashawana, has been behind several ventures aimed at poverty alleviation, which have included distribution of food parcels to the needy and the “One-Brick-At-A-Time” project. 

As South Africa’s housing backlog stands at a staggering 2.1 million, with an estimated 2.5 million people in dire need of homes, earlier this year Mashawana launched a campaign to assist the homeless – aiming to build 100 homes for the homeless, with members of the public contributing R2,000 towards one brick, to reach the target of 5,000 bricks.

Reflecting on the agreement with government, Mashawana said the foundation found it important “to measure things that we care about in our sustainability reporting, which is why it is important for us to touch as many vulnerable communities as possible”.

The foundation, said Mashawana, was aligned with the DSD’s integrated development and welfare services programmes – having signed a partnership “to help improve the lives of the poor”.

“I am pleased to say that the agreement was signed off this week between our foundation and Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu.

“The partnership will govern our relationship with DSD and articulate the required support from both delivery partners.

“With a strategy aligned to operations, the Collen Mashawana Foundation and the DSD will cast a wider net in prioritising the elderly, child-headed households and those living with disabilities – the very people that we regularly meet in our community development programmes. 

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“This exciting development is our opportunity to support DSD’s vision to transform our society by building conscious and capable citizens through the provision of comprehensive, integrated and sustainable social development services.

“Our involvement strengthens the sustainability of our social development muscle through the building and leveraging of joint capabilities for successful execution,” said 


He said more could be achieved when private sector organisations partnered with government.

“We are confident that this partnership of public interest is necessary, because it has a joint mandate that upholds maximum reach and impact for communities in need,” said Mashawana.

Mashawana was last year chosen by Reputation Poll International – a leading global reputation management firm – as being among the 2020 list of 100 most reputable Africans.

Others include:

  • Olympic medallist Caster Semenya
  • World-renowned artist Angélique Kidjo
  •  Amnesty International secretary-general Kumi Naidoo
  • Tunisian Human Rights League president Abdessattar Ben Moussa
  • Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed
  • Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa president Agnes Kalibata
  • Entrepreneur Basetsana Kumalo
  • George Washington University professor Catherine Adoyo
  • Deloitte Africa CEO Lwazi Bam
  • World Health Organization regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti
  • Businesswoman and author Dr Nobuhle Dlamini Nxasana
  • Executive director for UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
  • Entrepreneur Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe
  • Head of the the National Prosecuting Authority Shamila Batohi
  • Co-chair of Global HIV Prevention Coalition Sheila Tlou
  • UN under secretary-general and executive director of UNECA Vera Songwe
  • UNAIDS director Dr Winnie Byanyima
  • University of Pretoria chancellor Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu

The Collen Mashawana Foundation has been in the forefront of campaigns to fight the spread of Covid in South Africa, having donated personal protective clothing to township-based healthcare facilities.

Said Mashawana: “In 2018, the Collen Mashawana Foundation joined hands with the Lekgau Mathabathe Foundation, as well as Afribiz Invest in adopting Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto – known for having been at the forefront of the June 16 resistance against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

“We adopted the school as one of our beneficiaries.

“Since then, we have annually spent June 16, painting the walls and renovating the school classrooms with an objective of ensuring that the institution remains in a good condition in honour of the heroes of 1976,” said Mashawana.

“A commitment to restore dignity to disadvantaged communities in the country is what has always given me, the team and our partners, a motivation to render assistance to various needy areas.”