Pick n Pay School Club wins Trialogue Strategic CSI Award

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The Pick n Pay School Club, one of the longest-established educational support programmes in South Africa, has been acknowledged with the prestigious 2020 Trialogue Strategic Corporate Social Investment (CSI) Award. The Pick n Pay School Club programme supports more than two million learners every year and was founded in 2003.

The programme’s educational content is co-created with partners and updated annually and aligned with the Department of Basic Education’s national curriculum and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year, beneficiaries included 105 875 teachers, 2 268 750 learners and 3 403 125 guardians across South Africa. The award was announced at the virtual launch of the 23rd edition of the highly respected Trialogue Business in Society Handbook (26 November), in which the Club was featured.

“Since Pick n Pay’s inception, over 50 years ago, we have believed that doing good is good business and that to build a better tomorrow for all South Africans, we must actively participate in the communities in which we work and live. Pick n Pay School Club is a fundamental part of this commitment and we are extremely honoured to be recognised as the leading CSI programme in South Africa in 2020,” said Pick n Pay Sustainability General Manager Andre Nel.

“We started Pick n Pay School Club 17 years ago and today it reaches more than two million learners every year. We expanded our support for learners during the Covid-19 lockdown to offer more than 10 000 pages of free CAPS-aligned (National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement) digital content. In partnership with The Willowton Group, we distributed over 750 000 soaps through the School Club channel and, together with the non-profit Feed The Nation Foundation, we provided more than 3.5 million meals to learners in need.”

Said Trialogue Director Cathy Duff: “For CSI to be strategic, it must have positive developmental impact that is aligned with and contributes to the priorities of the business, beyond reputational impact. The Award recognises projects that exemplify best practice. It aims to encourage CSI practitioners to think more strategically when planning and implementing their initiatives.”

The judges were Gugu McLaren-Ushewokunze and Anthony Wilson-Prangley. McLaren-Ushewokunze leads the Social Transformation programme of the National Business Initiative, a coalition of local and multinational companies working for sustainable growth and development in South Africa. Wilson-Prangley lectures at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) on shared value, strategy implementation, organisational culture, start-ups and entrepreneurship.

Commenting on the Pick n Pay programme, the judges said: “This initiative, like many past winners, benefits from being a flagship CSI initiative for many years. This means it is well thought through and there have been many years of improvements, including data tracking the social and business impacts.

“It perfectly combines a key material social impact with company benefits across a range of levels. Very substantive, highly detailed, extensive information in terms of outputs was given. In terms of company benefit, substantive details around recognition were provided, along with stakeholder and competitive benefit.”

Nel said the Club was founded when then Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, called for South African businesses to help create an education infrastructure that would build the nation. This was intended to make a real change in education, while driving socio-economic transformation in the communities in which learners, parents and educators live and work.

Programme social results

School evaluations in 2020 indicated that 98% of schools believed Pick n Pay School Club’s educational content increased learners’ understanding of curriculum content, and 99% felt it improved learners’ general knowledge. Similarly, 97% felt that it improved learners’ marks and 99% of the contact teachers felt it supported them as educators in their specific teaching fields.

An additional benefit of the School Club is its focus on creating the leaders of tomorrow. Its 11-year-old Pick n Pay Hero Awards Programme recognises ‘everyday heroes’ who receive badges and certificates. Pick n Pay School Club also awards prizes to winning sports teams, encouraging greater physical activity.

Programme business benefits

Pick n Pay’s suppliers and partners sponsor the material, with the proviso that brand messaging aligns with curriculum content. Products are not advertised, but brand awareness and affinity are created. In this way, Pick n Pay connects with its suppliers and partners to scale its interventions and create wider impact. It also builds its brand in an ethical way among school communities.

For example, Pick n Pay School Club and Livewell, Pick n Pay’s own brand of products that meet strict criteria based on current regulations for fat, saturated fat, added sugar and salt, teamed up to provide posters on healthy living to 2 300 primary schools. GLAD and Plastics SA teamed up to provide 6 000 posters on recycling to 1 200 primary schools. Polyco partnered with Pick n Pay Sustainability to print and distribute three CAPS-aligned booklets to teach learners ways in which they can care for the environment.

To read more: The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook can be downloaded free here.