SGS Consulting is a social enterprise based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is Black owned and managed. The key fields of work include community philanthropy, education, constitutionalism, HIV and AIDS. The scope of work of SGS Consulting is continental with education and constitutionalism focused mainly in South Africa; and community philanthropy, HIV and AIDS at the continental levels. SGS Consulting also consults to the United Nations, work that happens at the regional and continental levels.
SGS Consulting works in a post-colonial and post-apartheid South Africa, that among other, resulted in a deeply divided society. The transformation project involves the eradication of systemic forms of domination and material disadvantage based on race, gender, class, patriarchy and other grounds of inequality. As a result, the establishment of a truly equal society and the provision of basic socio-economic rights, not only in South Africa but continent-wide, are critical elements of transformation. These are the imperatives that drive the work of SGS Consulting and its philosophical disposition.
SGS Consulting has a staff complement of six and makes provision for internships.
Constitutionalism in South Africa
SGS Consulting was appointed as Co-Coordinator and administrator of the Constitutionalism Fund (CF) in 2015. The Joint Fund was set up to promote and advance Constitutionalism in South Africa. The Fund is a collaboration between The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation and The Open Society Foundation, with a combined investment of US$25 million over a ten to twelve-year period.
The Constitutionalism Fund supports constitutional programs in South Africa that promote human rights awareness and access to rights through activities utilizing a rights-based approach and that target the most vulnerable and marginalised. A second goal of the fund is to support the transformation of civil society in South Africa, recognizing that the legacy of apartheid and colonial South Africa, has left in its wake, an unequal society divided by race and class in which racism, sexism, patriarchy and xenophobia continue to thrive.
The fund promotes robust, transparent and frank conversations about the structural divides in South Africa that continue to hamper transformation. The sustainability of civil society organisations and social movements in our country continues to be at risk and the fund aims to build capacity and resilience of civil society to withstand inevitable changes in leadership and decline in funding. Civil society organisations play an important role in building a capable state in which civil servants are educated about their responsibilities in terms of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, as well as the private sector, so as to strengthen the rule of law and democracy. The CF website is: http:// constitutionalismfund.co.za/.
Building philanthropy in South Africa and the continent
We are passionate about community philanthropy or “local giving” as it is often called in the African context. In South Africa, the concept of “ubuntu” (I am because of you) naturally fuels the sentiment to give. Across Africa, informal giving such as giving that occurs within families, ethnic groups and communities, and that is often based on reciprocity and obligation, co-exists with more formal approaches to giving such as trusts and foundations, corporate CSI programs and international foundation giving.
Philanthropy is a large part of SGS Consulting’s work with a strong focus on building philanthropy in South Africa and the continent, through a multifaceted approach spanning from working with individuals and communities to key national and continental institutions.
SGS Consulting is positioned as a Community Foundation Support Organisation (CFSO) with the task of building infrastructure in Southern Africa, that in turn, and over the next six to ten years, will endeavour to build a movement of community foundations in the region.
The work defined for the next three years is to build infrastructure in the region and to cohere CFSOs in a peer to peer network that will draw on infrastructure organisations in the continent and globally as well. The vision of this project is illustrated below:
Community foundations, by their nature, represent the following in general. They are place-based, grassroots level organisations that are multi-issued with the transactional capacity to hold assets and make grants. Their ability to build trust at the community level, build local leadership and capacity to solve local challenges, make them indispensable to the growth and development of their geographically defined local communities. They have capacity to raise funds, attract donor resources as well as the ability to harness non-financial, volunteer giving. They are able to hold government accountable and are key sources of intelligence regarding contextual developments within communities. No one community foundation is the same as they are contextually shaped, some with the benefit of endowments but most other, certainly in the African context, with the challenge of needing to raise funds in order to make targeted grants. The most critical comparative advantage of a community foundation is its power to convene, underpinned by the trust of the communities it serves.
Asset based Community-led Development (ABCD)
ABCD was introduced in South Africa in the early 1990s. Since then, it has become a diversified approach that has grown beyond targeting development only at the grassroots level. ABCD aims to build capacity in communities in order for them to mobilize and leverage their own assets, tangible and intangible, financial and non-financial, in order to regenerate the local economy, improve well-being and create sustainable work opportunities and livelihoods. ABCD acknowledges the important role to be played by communities in development and consequently, places communities at the centre of development in order to ensure ownership and sustainability. The consciousness shift created by ABCD assists in adjusting attitudes that are the root of entitlement and dependency, and leads communities to realize that they can lead their own development. When communities have been empowered, not only will they be strategic in pursuing appropriate development initiatives in line with their own values and aspirations, they will hold government accountable in addressing development inadequacies.
SGS Consulting has been instrumental in creating an ABCD ecosystem that includes the public sector, corporate sector, academia, local communities and ABCD practitioners, and this ecosystem was culminated at the fourth international ABCD Imbizo event in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 21-23 February 2018, which was the first international ABCD gathering on the African continent. This ground-breaking event was preceded by an ABCD pre-Imbizo, on 19 and 20 February 2018, which focused on understanding the ways in which ABCD can be contextualised to respond to development challenges encountered in South Africa’s local governance sector, and challenges faced by youth.
“YouthBanks are a mechanism for grantmaking and are defined by the cultural diversity, history, tradition and politics of their home nation. Their primary function is to promote young people as decision makers at a grassroots level, using grant making as a tool to address the issues and causes that matter most to them in their community”(YouthBank International). In the context of South Africa, there are multiple formal and informal organizations in many of our communities that contribute to development, but are often faced with resource challenges. YouthBanks present an opportunity for young people to be practically involved in making a financial contribution to organizations with causes they are passionate about that contribute towards community development. SGS Consulting identified YouthBanks as a practical way to involve young people in local giving. Currently, there are 8 functional YouthBanks in South Africa , all in the West Coast, in the Western Cape province.
HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health
SGS has a long history of working in the HIV and AIDS, and sexual and reproductive health fields in South Africa, the continent and globally. This experience extends to the development of regional HIV and AIDS strategies and evaluation processes for SADC, SADCPF and EAC; leading country proposal development and evaluation teams for the Global Fund for HIV and AIDS, monitoring, evaluation and organisational development of regional NGOs and networks of NGOs; and extensive work done with the United Nations system in South Africa, the Southern African region and globally with reference to M&E, development of United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks and Joint UN programs on HIV and AIDs. SGS Consulting has also done extensive training on the results-based management approach at country levels involving UN agency heads and respective government officials. Most recently, we extended our work to the Ford Foundation Southern Africa on their strategy development process and Islamic Relief South Africa to finalise their research on humanitarian assistance in Southern Africa.
Education – with a specific focus on school improvement
2013 represented our first foray into the education sector with our partnership with the Kagiso Shanduka Trust program. The program is a partnership between Kagiso Trust, the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (formerly the Shanduka Foundation) and the Free State Department of Education. The programme, using the Whole School Development model, aims to support the transformation of hundreds of public schools in the Free State. SGS Consulting has been a partner in this programme since its inception and provides writing and documentation, research as well as monitoring and evaluation services.
In addition to the KST programme, we have been working on two external evaluations that sought to determine the effectiveness of intervention strategies designed to improve learner results. These include the Adopt-A-School Foundation of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation and Maths Centre.
In 2017, +-12 organizations, like the South African Human Rights Commission, Section 27, Equal Education, Equal Education Law Centre, expressed interest in working with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to develop and craft, make recommendations and review educational protocols on a voluntary basis. SGS Consulting responded to the expressed interest of civil society units and played a pivotal role in bridging the gap between civil societies and the DBE and convening the process of protocol development. Civil societies and SGS Consulting’s interest was in response to a growing crisis in the education sector. System leaders and parents were imprecise about their roles and responsibilities when dealing with issues of sexual violence, teenage pregnancy and discrimination in schools. Therefore, the protocols developed are in response to key challenges and reflect an understanding of the challenges.