22 June 2020
 
Financial services group, Absa and its staff, have stepped up contributions towards fighting COVID-19, by committing an additional R18.8 million to South African relief efforts. This includes the expansion of testing, provision of secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel, remote learning support for university students and the distribution of food and other vital resources to vulnerable communities.

  • R13.8 million for protective gear, testing and humanitarian assistance
  • R5 million for 1 000 learning devices and mobile data for university online learning
  • R7.1 million in donations from senior management and staff
  • 2 million meals to be delivered over the next 6 months
  • R19 million to date in 8 countries where Absa has operations across the region.

“In these challenging times, our focus is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of colleagues, customers and communities. With nearly a quarter of all cases on the continent, South Africa is currently the worst hit in sub-Saharan Africa, and where we are currently focusing our support initiatives,” says Absa Group Chief Executive, Daniel Mminele.

Leave Donations

Mminele says he has been inspired by the way people have come together, inside and outside Absa. R7.1 million of the additional R13.8 million (for protective gear, testing and humanitarian assistance in South Africa) was voluntarily donated by Absa senior management and staff in the form of accumulated leave and cash donations.

"Our colleagues have strong roots in their communities and a desire to make personal contributions within their means. There is a long road ahead and human solidarity, which is what our colleagues have demonstrated here, is what will get all of us through this crisis,” he adds.

Education contribution

Absa has also concluded an agreement with Universities South Africa (USAf) to contribute R5 million to provide 1000 learning devices and mobile data to university students to assist with their online or remote learning. The contribution will benefit students from six, mostly historically disadvantaged universities, across five provinces, namely the Vaal University of Technology (200 devices); the Universities of Kwa-Zulu Natal (200 devices); Western Cape (200 devices); Limpopo (100 devices); Venda (100 devices); as well as the University of the Free State (200 devices). These universities will identify recipients and distribute accordingly. 

Payment Relief Programme

Since the launch of Absa’s payment relief programme, 719 119 South African accountholders (across business and retail banking) have benefitted, amounting to R8.85 billion cash-flow relief over the last three months.  Within the Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) division, in excess of R28.7 billion of COVID-19 related financing has been approved, with more applications pending. This is over and above the moratoriums and covenant requests granted to 238 corporate clients.

Other contributions

Additional SA contributions include:

  • A R1.5m donation to Pink Drive for hotspot testing in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape
  • 3 mobile testing units to support the efforts of the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS)
  • 25 000 face shields, and 360 000 surgical masks donated through Gift of the Givers, for frontline medical staff
  • 597 200 meals distributed to date, with a target of 2 million countrywide
  • 14, 580 “thank you” blankets distributed to nurses across 10 hospitals
  • R1m in trading commissions towards the Solidarity Fund as part of the JSE #Trade4Solidarity initiative

“To date, R19 million has also been donated across eight African markets, towards health and community support programmes. We will continue to monitor our operating countries across the continent, to assess where humanitarian assistance and other needs are most pressing, as this crisis evolves.” This brings Absa’s total contribution to R55 million since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, says Mminele.

“We expect the situation to remain challenging for some time, even as some economies begin a slow reopening. At Absa, we remain committed to the implementation of strict hygiene and health protocols in the workplace and undertake to walk the road ahead together with our customers, clients and communities. It is through vigilance and collaboration that we will overcome the many facets of this crisis,” concludes Mminele.