Absa bank commits additional fund and other items toward SA’s relief effort

SOUTH AFRICAFinancial services group Absa has committed additional funds towards South Africa’s relief efforts in the fight against Covid-19.

The group, along with its staff, has committed an additional R18.8m (US$41.09m), to be spent on the expansion of coronavirus testing, provision of secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel, remote learning support for university students and the distribution of food and other vital resources to vulnerable communities.

“In these challenging times, our focus is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of colleagues, customers and communities. With nearly a quarter of all cases on the continent, SA is currently the worst hit in Sub-Saharan Africa, and where we are currently focusing our support initiatives,” said Absa CEO Daniel Mminele.

R13.8 million (US$0.8m) is for protective gear, testing and humanitarian assistance. Out of the R13.8m (US$0.8m) for protective equipment, testing and humanitarian assistance in SA, R7.1m (US$0.4m) was voluntarily donated by Absa senior management and staff in the form of accumulated leave and cash donations.

“Our colleagues have strong roots in their communities and a desire to make personal contributions within their means. There is a long road ahead and human solidarity, which is what our colleagues have demonstrated here, is what will get all of us through this crisis,” he adds.

Absa has also concluded an agreement with Universities SA to contribute R5m (US$0.29m), aimed at providing 1,000 learning devices and mobile data to university students to assist with their online or remote learning. The contribution will benefit students from six, mostly historically disadvantaged universities in five provinces.

The contribution will benefit students from six, mostly historically disadvantaged universities, across five provinces, namely the Vaal University of Technology (200 devices); the Universities of Kwa-Zulu Natal (200 devices); Western Cape (200 devices); Limpopo (100 devices); Venda (100 devices); as well as the University of the Free State (200 devices). These universities will identify recipients and distribute accordingly.

In addition, 2 million meals are to be delivered over the next 6 months, a R1.5m (US$0.087m) donation to Pink Drive for hotspot testing in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape. 3 mobile testing units to support the efforts of the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), 25 000 face shields, and 360 000 surgical masks donated through Gift of the Givers, for frontline medical staff.

Absa also donated 14, 580 “thank you” blankets distributed to nurses across 10 hospitals and R1m (US$0.058m) in trading commissions towards the Solidarity Fund as part of the JSE #Trade4Solidarity initiative.

“To date, R19 million (US$1.1m) has also been donated across eight African markets, towards health and community support programmes. We will continue to monitor our operating countries across the continent, to assess where humanitarian assistance and other needs are most pressing, as this crisis evolves.This brings Absa’s total contribution to R55 million (US$3.19m) since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March,” says Mminele.

“We expect the situation to remain challenging for some time, even as some economies begin a slow reopening. At Absa, we remain committed to the implementation of strict hygiene and health protocols in the workplace and undertake to walk the road ahead together with our customers, clients and communities. It is through vigilance and collaboration that we will overcome the many facets of this crisis,” concluded Mminele.

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