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Social Innovations: Kimon Phitidis

A CSI consultancy sets itself apart by targeting a niche sector and aligning its programmes with its clients.

Juliet Pitman

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Kimon Phitidis

Kimon Phitidis knows better than anyone how important education is to South Africa’s future. “Without educated learners moving through the school system and into tertiary, we cannot come close to meeting our employment or growth targets. And without educated and employed people, companies have no future market and no future pool of skills to draw on. This is everyone’s problem,” he says. Phitidis has built his business, Social Innovations, by helping companies to channel their corporate social investment funds to effective and impactful education projects.

“In 2010, around 33% of CSI spend was allocated to education and about 90% of companies with CSI funds support education in some way,” he indicates. The exclusive focus of Social Innovations on education projects has given it a differentiating edge among other CSI consultancies.

CSI is a constantly evolving field and Phitidis has had to ensure that he’s at the forefront of trends in both social investment and education. “Increasingly, there is a focus on the impact of CSI programmes. It’s no longer enough for a company to say they have spent money. My clients therefore want the comfort of knowing that their programmes are addressing a real need, and in order to ensure continued relevance, I need to keep my finger on the pulse of the latest research in this space,” he says.

Corporates are also seeking greater alignment between their core business and their CSI spend and Phitidis designs education programmes with this in mind. “We consider both the social and commercial benefits when putting a programme together, and we’re more than just consultants – we implement programmes on the client’s behalf.”

Being a specialist has also enabled Social Innovations to build up a wealth of learning and expertise, which further serves to enhance its offering. “This learning is shared across regions and programmes. We now employ 58 teachers on a contract basis, and use many of them to run training sessions and workshops so we can share and spread best practice in programme implementation,” says Phitidis. His biggest challenge remains the long lead time to bring on a new client. Social Innovations might have established itself as the go-to company for education-related CSI projects, but there is still a lack of urgency in getting a programme off the ground.

Highlighting the commercial and brand benefit, together with ensuring compelling alignment to the client’s core business, has been key to overcoming this challenge, as Phitidis outlines: “As an example, we know that PEP is the biggest retailer of school uniforms in the country and very engaged in the school space. We put together a school-based programme for them with deep educational benefits but that also generated an enormous amount of goodwill for the brand and promotional activity.”

In a sector in which ‘sustainability’ is the key buzzword, the ability to link social investment to triple bottom-line benefit will go a long way to securing the future of the company.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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