Boosting Collaboration Between The Private And Public Sectors
Alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 at both a provincial and national government is vital for cross-collaboration. “At Impact Catalyst we realise that no single player, whether a government department or a company, can solve society’s most difficult problems. As a company, for instance, it is often very difficult to see upward in the chain. One of Impact Catalyst’s strength is that it links the NDP 2030 at a provincial, district and municipal level, assisting the partner companies to align their social and labour developments plans accordingly.”
This is the view of Dr Eduard Vorster, chief client officer at engineering consultancy Zutari, formerly Aurecon Africa, which along with Anglo American, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Exxaro, the Office of the Premier (OTP) in Limpopo and World Vision South Africa make up the founding partners of Impact Catalyst.
“The objective is that when you do spend money, it is aligned to the total strategy and plan right up to national government level, thereby ensuring that the investment can be impactful to a society while also serving the needs of the investor and government.”
He adds that “there is no better time than now” for such engagement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has helped us a little bit more in cementing the partnership between the private and public sectors in terms of cross-collaboration. Having the right relationships from government in the private sector is essential in promoting funding models such as Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).”
Impact Catalyst aims to engage with more partners. “The interesting aspect is you can be a full partner if the region you work in or what you do fits like a glove and there are synergistic skill sets, or you can only be a project partner. It is a highly flexible model for companies to get involved with for making a bigger impact. We also strive for cross-sectoral impact as it is great to have partners that are influential in different sectors so that one can make a bigger impact across the broader industrial value chain to catalyse the economic growth that South Africa needs,” stresses Dr Vorster.
Zutari’s involvement with Impact Catalyst has been a meeting of minds and passions and a collaborative process right from the outset of the concept. “We immediately aligned with the vision of making a lasting difference in society through what we do. At that time, the founding partners did not have anyone on board with deep project execution experience. Our good relationships with other stakeholders such as government departments, municipalities and even local communities were a further bonus. Hence Zutari was an immediate synergistic fit with these partners and we aligned wholeheartedly on culture,” explains Dr Vorster.
The initiative started as a specific catalyst for the mining industry – a major source of employment in South Africa. “We know that any mine has a finite life. To ensure that societies that evolved around mining have sustainable futures beyond mining investments must have lasting impact. Hence it aims to leverage a broader collaboration across industries and provinces.
“It is a catalyst by mining companies, but goes well beyond that. The founding partners’ passion is to ensure that we make a sustainable impact on society through the projects Impact Catalyst undertakes. Other partners – very influential in their industry – can then engage opportunities in manufacturing, ICT, education and health or any other sectors essential for our country to prosper in the longer term,” says Dr Vorster.
“When I contemplate the core reason for me being an engineer, it is to make a difference in society. By working hand in hand with communities, we serve to solve their most pressing issues, which Zutari defines as co-creating an engineered impact. By bringing together multiple stakeholders from the public and private sector, Impact Catalyst multiplies the influence of these separate entities.
“Individually, our impact can be negligible at a corporate level or even government level, as we are limited by the scope of the projects we are involved with and the skills we might have, or we can face budgetary constraints. Impact Catalyst, however, allows the consortium or project partners to make a bigger impact by marshalling their resources in service of a much larger developmental programme that could change our collective longer-term future for the better,” concludes Dr Vorster.