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South Africa: Atlas Copco and Tholimfundo join hands in giving back

Atlas Copco Industrial South Africa embraced the spirit of Youth Day on 16 June by hosting an interactive workshop focused on branding, for Grade 10 learners at the Tholimfundo Foundation Skill Centre. As a company who strives to be involved in sustainable corporate social investment projects of meaning and impact, Atlas Copco is proud to support and partner with organisations in the life-changing work they do for communities in South Africa.

“Our approach to corporate social investment is not only project funding but want we also want to share our resources, skills and expertise,” says Atlas Copco’s Communications Professional, Noluthando Zondo. “We strongly believe in the power of education and we are confident that this collaboration with Tholimfundo will assist young people to achieve their potential and increase their access to higher education institutions. The workshop is one of the many initiatives we are involved in, equipping and empowering young people with life skills, helping them to grow, enter good careers and become successful contributors to the country’s economy.”

The three-hour workshop, which was facilitated by Noluthando, introduced 26 Grade 10 male and female students to the concept of branding and how to practically apply personal branding to their lives as well as to their careers. In addition to a presentation, Noluthando also handed out learner workbooks. “The students elected to attend the workshop as part of their Youth Day celebration and wanting to learn more about the workshop contents. It was truly inspirational to witness the energy and eagerness of these young people to learn and to achieve their dreams,” observes Noluthando. “I shared ideas with them on how to make an impression in the workplace, focusing on dress code, communication skills and office etiquette. The success of the workshop and the positive feedback that we received encouraged us to host a 2nd workshop on 1st July where we discussed the learners’ aspirations. I am indeed both proud and honoured to be part of their education journeys!”

“We wish to extend a most sincere thank you to Atlas Copco,” says Centre Manager, Mary Serunye, who founded Tholimfundo in 2012.  “Your generosity, not only in terms of financial assistance but also in giving of your time and sharing your knowledge during the workshop has given us and our members an inimitable opportunity.”

Based in Wattville, Benoni, on Johannesburg’s East Rand, Tholimfundo, which means education in Zulu, is a non-profit, non-political, non-partisan and non-religious organisation. “I decided to establish the foundation when I recognised a real need for a facility that can lend assistance to school leavers who want to further their studies but who face many challenges because of their disadvantaged backgrounds,” explains Mary who is passionate about what the Foundation does. She is ably supported by a dedicated and efficient team that includes Nonhlanhla Mahlangu – Administrator, Tshepang Maebela – Cleaner, Londiwe Mngomezulu – Advice and Referral Officer, and Computer Facilitators, Bafedile and Enocent.

Some of the Foundation’s objectives are to assist the youth in the relevant communities with application processes to universities and colleges, to ensure that all applications are completed on time before the closing dates, to provide career guidance that will assist young people in choosing their careers, and to facilitate motivational talks and workshops to prepare them for this next and most important step in their lives. “Lack of funds is an obstacle for many young people who want to pursue their dreams so we lend a hand here too by assisting them in applying for bursaries as well as with loans at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme,” notes Mary. “We further extend our services by being an information hub for the unemployed youth, presenting skills development programs at our Skills Centre that will equip with them with the necessary know-how required for their potential jobs. These include a basic computer course, life and business skills training, tutorials and job placement programmes.”

“We are extremely proud of all our learners and it’s just so gratifying to be able to report that since 2012 we have managed to assist a total number of 481 students in gaining access to institutions of higher learning (universities and college); all of them having studies and are currently studying with NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) bursaries!” continues Mary. “Here are two of many success stories that I am able to share: Mbali Mbatha is a graduate from TUT (Tshwane University of Technology) and who is currently successfully employed as an intern at the Justice Office.  We assisted Mbali to register her for her degree and she finished it in record time! Keletso Padi is another dynamic and motivated learner whom we assisted to register at VUT (Vaal University of Technology). Keletso has since graduated and is a full-time employee at Eskom, living her best life at a very young age!” confirms Mary proudly.

In 2021 Tholimfundo had 150 affiliated members who paid membership fees for assistance with university and college placements. Mary says that finances will always remain a challenge as will the transporting of students to different institutions across the country once they have been accepted at the higher education institutions. “We accompany them to their residences within the different institutions and help them settle in, but it is costly. We would like to do so much more but as a non-funded NPO, transport is really big issue, which is exacerbated by the current exorbitant fuel prices. “

In closing, Mary confirms that Atlas Copco’s much-needed and generous donation will go towards the registration process, for transporting Tholimfundo members to their residences, and for paying application fees for those that cannot afford it. We will also use some of the funding for the upcoming school visits that we will be conducting for Grade 12s. We look forward to building a solid working relationship with Atlas Copco going forward.”

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