The value of giving back to the community cannot be understated for any individual or corporate organisation. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. It is only noble that once the child excels in life and is independent, they, in turn, take up the mantle to take care of the village that raised them.
While Corporate Social Responsibility is not a new phenomenon, it has increasingly become one of the strategic pillars to companies and philanthropic individuals over the last several years with a key focus on benefiting the society, customers and employees. Companies are becoming cognizant of their operating environment, not only globally but also locally, with the strategic intention of incorporating social responsibility into their overall business strategy.
Jacqueline Mathaga, Family Group Foundation Manager is one of those passionate individuals championing change for societal benefit. Her end goal is to sustainability ensure good deeds in all her endeavors. With a master’s in public administration leading a team with strong capabilities and a mum with a desire to give her child the best environment and unmatched resilience, Jacqueline believes in leading change through education, health and water.
“Corporate Social Responsibility is an opportunity to build a citizen and transform lives. This is core to our heart as a Foundation. We believe that through education, health and water, we can be able to touch on the key issues that affect society and provide sustainable platforms for change,” says Jacqueline.
The Family Group Foundation, formed in 2012 by an associated group of companies – Family Bank, Kenya Orient Insurance, Daykio Plantations and Alpha Africa Asset Managers- was founded on the need to consolidate and harness their social responsibility strengths and be able to bring in greater resources for the common good of the society.
The Foundation scholarship programme has benefitted more than 600 students since its inception and runs various mentorship programmes that aid to provide holistic growth to high school students and prepare them for life after school.
“We discovered that a big factor of why students fail is pegged on social-emotional problems. With our mentorship programme, we endeavour to teach students at the young age on goal setting, dealing with peer pressure, finding their identity, how to navigate their teenage years, job preparedness and offer real-life mentorship. The mentees, who constitute mostly of orphaned children, are then matched to a staff member from our sister companies who will be able to mentor them even after high school,” she adds.
The wings of the Foundation are also spread towards inclusive education for children with special needs. Access to education is a fundamental right to all. Hence, the Family Group Foundation is committed to supporting children with special needs, specifically children living with autism, to access wholesome education.
According to a 2014 study by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) Jitolee- the National Special Needs Education Survey, 16 per cent of children with disabilities drop out of school due to social discrimination and lack of school fees. Therefore, more needs to be done to address inclusive education, especially in rural areas.
“This contribution is made possible through hundreds than come out to run at the Family Group Eldoret Half Marathon for a cause dubbed Champions Run for Autism. With the construction and renovation of specialised classes for autistic children, we are able to increase education access and in the long term promote economic development. An autistic child today is an autistic adult tomorrow. There is a need to have a ready pool of adults who can take up opportunities and impact the world,” Jacqueline adds enthusiastically.
Sosiani Primary School, a public primary school located in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, became the first beneficiary of one of its kind specialized classroom from the proceeds from the 2016 Marathon. The school was willing to provide a classroom for students with Autism. There were students awaiting admission but had been turned away because the classroom was dilapidated and lacked resources. The proceeds were used to build and equip a specialized classroom to serve the pupils.
“It is our hope that every public school in the country can get a classroom that is equipped with resources and special education teachers. If these students are included with other students in learning institutions, it means that they can learn, interact and we can demystify Autism. Once these children are able to find a handle on themselves, they can join the other children in their classrooms. The whole idea of having a special needs classroom within a public school is to allow them to interact with other students and to come back to their classroom when they need extra help if they are struggling,” adds Jacqueline.
While Jacqueline has great hopes to transform society through the efforts of the Foundation, she calls on Kenyans to invest time and money and be part of the change. While Family Group Foundation is the only organisation that champions for inclusive education for autistic children, more collaborative efforts will bridge the gap towards increasing access to education.
The Foundation has also ventured in the healthcare system to increase the number of mid-level healthcare professionals through its partnership with Higher Education Loans Board through a Kshs. 10 million partnership. The initiative, dubbed Afya Elimu, targets needy students struggling to raise fees by providing loans to the students to be able to undertake medical training through Kenya Medical Training Colleges countrywide. The students are then allowed to repay the debt one year after finding employment.
Currently, the Foundation also provides water facilities in schools to enable the schools to harvest water and store clean and safe water thereby playing a major role in improving sanitation and access to safe drinking water. The staff initiative dubbed Maji Kwa Wanafunzi has seen over 37 tanks donated to schools countrywide and has had a direct impact on more than 40,000 students.
While a lot is being undertaken by the Foundation, Jacqueline believes more can be done to make the world a better place. She lauds various corporates who invest in making the world a better place. Jacqueline believes that if all individuals and corporates join hands, we can all be able to achieve more and invest in our children’s future.