Collaboration is key to SA’s financial empowerment

29 August 2023

The ASISA Foundation celebrates 10 years of partnerships and collaborations that have enabled it to deliver quality financial education to South Africans and sounds a call for increased sector-wide collaboration.

Partnerships and collaboration have enabled far-reaching social impact through the delivery of quality financial education in South Africa. That was the message at the ASISA Foundation’s event to launch its campaign celebrating 10 years of infinite impact, held on 1 August 2023 at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton.

The event also saw a call for sector-wide collaboration to foster the future of South African society and to enable the greater financial capability, financial inclusion, financial resilience, economic participation and financial well-being of the country’s most vulnerable communities.

Founded by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA), the ASISA Foundation began operations in 2013 and has achieved a significant positive impact over its first 10 years. More than 80 000 South Africans (96% black, 62% female) from across all nine provinces have participated in the ASISA Foundation’s financial education programmes in that time, with R182.5 million in funding having been deployed.

Praise singer Mpho Ratema opened the event with a powerful poem of praise, acknowledging and paying tribute to the various parties who have enabled the birth, growth and success of the ASISA Foundation. “ASISA Foundation!” he sang. “Mother of the nation! The queen of financial education! With you there’s always motivation! Halala ASISA Foundation, halala!”

The ASISA Foundation’s 10-year celebration campaign includes a dedicated website – – and a downloadable booklet that unpacks its achievements over its first decade. The theme of the campaign is “Infinite Impact”, reflecting the knock-on effects of the Foundation’s financial education in the lives of its programme participants and their families, employees and broader communities.

Zanele Motau is one example. She participated in the ASISA Foundation’s FLAME (Financial Literacy and Micro-Enterprise) programme between 2016 and 2018, when she was a small-scale farmer. She is now a pillar of her community in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria in many ways, including providing produce to a school feeding scheme which benefits more than 6 000 schoolchildren, as well as serving as the Chairperson of Youth in Agriculture and Rural Development Gauteng.

The Foundation’s programmes are focused on individuals in communities, workers, young adults in tertiary institutions, and township and rural business owners. As a national industry body initiative, the ASISA Foundation drives a national agenda in support of the South African government’s national consumer financial education strategy. Through its purpose, structure and operating model, the ASISA Foundation Trust can demonstrate its contribution to the South African National Development Plan (NDP) as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Speaking at the 10-year celebration event John Manyike, ASISA Foundation Trustee, Chairman of the ASISA Consumer Financial Education Standing Committee and Group Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual Limited, described the Foundation’s approach to measurable, sustainable impact: “When it comes to financial education, globally speaking, there’s a lot of ‘teach and run’,” he said. “‘Teach and run’ is similar to ‘hit and run’: you teach once, and whether there’s impact or not is neither here nor there. That’s not how the ASISA Foundation operates. There’s no ‘teach and run’ here. It’s proper financial education with measurable outcomes.”


Infinite impact, delivered through collaboration

“The purpose of this event is to celebrate all that has been achieved, and also to acknowledge and recognise your contribution to what we’ve achieved,” Ruth Benjamin-Swales, ASISA Foundation CEO, told delegates at the 10-year celebration event. “But most of all, we hope to inspire you to keep on believing in fighting for the common good and knowing that when we work together, we truly can make a difference in people’s lives.”

That notion, of successful impact delivered through sector-wide collaboration, is a dominant theme of Foundation’s 10-year celebration campaign. Ingrid Goodspeed, ASISA Foundation Deputy Chairperson, explained why collaboration is so important, calling attention to the work that still needs to be done at a national level to improve financial education and increase economic participation.  

“At the ASISA Foundation we sift through massive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) reports, looking at the results of each of our programmes,” she said during a panel discussion. “What lesson have been learned? What do we need to apply in the next programme to make it better? We do that for our programmes; but what’s happening at a national level? We have the enablers, we have the legislation, we have the National Consumer Financial Education Committee, we have the national strategy, but how are those going? Is our current legislation fit for purpose?”

ASISA Foundation co-founder Trevor Chandler noted – like many at the event – that the problem cannot be solved by a single organisation. “No individual has the capacity to solve a nation’s problems,” he said, “but a collection of individuals can make that happen. We need to draw in perspectives from community organisations, policymakers, etc, and do things holistically so that you can achieve the impact you desire. That’s been the ethos of the ASISA Foundation from the start. We’ve tried to make this a collaborative initiative.”

Seipati Nekhondela, an ASISA Foundation Trustee and Director of Banking Development in the Tax and Financial Sector Policy Unit at National Treasury, agreed. “From a National Treasury perspective, best practice has shown that for financial education to be achieved more effectively, it is best to formalise the coordination and collaboration approach,” she said.

To that end, the ASISA Foundation leadership emphasised throughout the event that its 10-year celebration campaign was less about promoting its own achievements, and more about showcasing what can be done when an industry pulls together for a common aim. The ASISA Foundation has, thus far, deployed funding from 103 funders, and has worked with a wide range of implementing partners.

At the event the ASISA Foundation recognised its top five funders, awarding them with certificates for their outstanding contributions and strategic support over the past 10 years. And, as ASISA Foundation Chairperson Isaac Ramputa noted, there remains work to be done over the next 10.

“What is the future?” he asked. “We want to see greater collaboration of our industry and sector, with all of us coming together to collaborate, so that we can scale and reach more people – and reach beyond our sector.”