You could say that our story starts with trees.
We remember our team out in Orange Farm, Johannesburg more than six years ago planting our first trees and we’re almost certain that some people must have read the report and thought …“just another corporate planting trees in South Africa, to tick a box.”
However, our small team dreamt of more than just ticking boxes. Right from the start, we spoke with spirit and authenticity about leading the green economy and our goal was to achieve carbon neutral status.
In 2013, we became one of the first corporates in South Africa to offset our direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions (offsetting a massive 15% more than required), resulting in us being awarded, carbon neutral status. Our green journey has included planting more than 18,000 trees, many of which have been fruit trees as well as 4,600 bamboo plants (in partnership with Food & Trees for Africa) in a bid to stimulate enterprise development.
By spending time in some of Johannesburg’s most disadvantaged communities, our special projects team convinced the rest of the group that Konica Minolta South Africa (KMSA) had an opportunity to leverage its ‘digital platform’ in order to provide access to self-guided learning. Less than 8% of South African schools have functional libraries and still fewer have access to multimedia.
We dreamt of more than just delivering books though. Our trailblazing team had soon transformed a light commercial vehicle into a Mobile Library and IT Centre, and based on the success of our touring literacy project, the team went one step further to pilot bizbook corners: scaled-down, fully-equipped, ‘pop-up’ libraries.
The first time we saw a young reader lost in the fantasy world of a fairy-tale, we knew we had it right; every young South African deserves the opportunity to get lost in the world of stories. We always say ‘to read is to live’ and today, 8 primary schools in Gauteng are the proud owners of a bizbook corner and together with the Mobile Library, in partnership with The Edu-Care Foundation, our passion to deliver books, stories and interactive, exciting multimedia reaches more than 10,000 schoolchildren.
We still wanted to do more and so we launched our first bizIT centre, a complete IT lab at Toekomsrus Primary School in Randfontein and with the iconic rhino disappearing for our children and their children, we became involved in anti-rhino poaching projects. We realized there was still a gap when it came to secondary and tertiary education, which led us to develop and implement, a skills development programme aimed at empowering young, disadvantaged school-leavers who might not have the means to study further. To date, 11 young women have been recruited from the programme into full-time positions at Konica Minolta South Africa.
In 2014, our team had an ‘aha’moment.
What if we could take everything we had learnt so far, combining our passion for green economies, South Africa’s endangered wildlife and multimedia literacy into one single project?
Our most recent initiative is the pioneering bizhub Conservation Academy, situated in Mpumalanga. Managed by Good Work Foundation, the Academy blends the best of digital, multimedia learning, skills development and ‘conservation literacy’ to offer specialised career training to rural, young South Africans, empowering them to be able to take part in the economy of wildlife, including wildlife security.
The vision for the bizhub Conservation Academy is to become a prototype of what can happen when proudly South African corporations, conservationists, educators, combined with the use of technology and young people come together to create communities that are passionate about our green economy.
So yes, you could say that our story started with trees.
But today, trees are just one part of an entire strategy that has culminated in the vision of a young boy reading an iPad, on the back of a rhino, under an African tree, as illustrated in ourbizhubworld logo. That logo doesn’t just tick a box. It is the creative vision of one of our company’s most fundamental and spirited commitments … to participate, educate and conserve our unique country.