Early this year, Old Mutual launched the Sisonke competition aimed at creating awareness and rewarding impactful community initiatives in Africa.

The Sisonke series features stories told by local heroes in societies and communities across Africa who have overcome adversities and made their lives easier and more bearable. The campaign was inspired by stories of hope, perseverance, innovation, and the will to overcome life challenges.

People in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe were invited to submit 90-minute videos that highlight how regular people in society are making a positive impact in their communities. Old Mutual hoped to inspire action through these stories and work together with these heroes to rewrite a better shared future.

In Kenya, three community heroes were identified for their contribution to society during the COVID 19 pandemic. The three initiatives won cash prizes from the Sisonke docuseries competition.

The three Kenyan winners were;

  1. Butterfly Techies – they won Ksh. 765,000 for a project aimed at providing digital literacy for school girls in Samburu and Maralal county.
    2. 3Es Experience – they won Ksh. 190,000 for their focus on energy, environment, and empowerment. The group supports students in Kilifi county by providing books and solar light lanterns with aim of improving their reading and creativity.
    3. Red Splash – they won Ksh. 190,000 for their app that seeks to link people to blood donors to curb the issue of shortage of blood in the country also caught the eye of the judges.

Hapakenya spoke to Thobile Tshabalala, Head of Brand, Old Mutual, to get an in depth look at the company’s operations and inspiration for the Sisonke competition.

Tell us about Old Mutual’s initiative, Sisonke

After analyzing the tremendous effort that regular people put into improving the status of their communities, we at Old Mutual saw it fit to shine a light on such people. We launched Sisonke (meaning we are in it together), an initiative to create awareness and initiate action toward positively impacting the lives of people in the world.

We launched the initiative in different countries across Africa and received over 118 applications of people showcasing their community projects.

Why did you choose this community initiative?

At Old Mutual, we believe that an empowered society is a strong society. For this reason, we purposed to empower community heroes by providing funding that will grow their businesses and initiatives.

We also believe that by empowering communities, we will ensure a mutual positive future for everyone.

Walk us through the Sisonke application process

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on physical interaction, we largely utilized digital media to create awareness and collect applications.

The process was simple, in that applications submitted online were carefully reviewed and deliberated upon by judges hailing from different countries across Africa. After due diligence and thorough review, the judges jointly agreed on the winners and announced them.

With the funding, we hope to help these initiatives expand their services across their countries, inspire action and create awareness on positive communal projects.

Is Old Mutual involved in any other community support initiatives?

Yes. Since the onset of COVID-19, we have been actively involved in spreading correct COVID-19 information to the community.

We have also actively worked with some African governments to provide essential health supplies to communities across the continent.

In your opinion, what is the future of direct community initiatives such as Sisonke?

I believe that companies and corporates can do so much more to empower the community. Working with a healthy society ensure healthy competition and general growth of economies. These initiatives go a long way in assuring the community that the companies they serve or work for are truly there for them.

By working with governments, corporates can ease the burden of communication, transportation and delivery of essential materials.