Sasfin remains focused and performs in line with behavioural and ethical guidelines for the following areas:
- Good corporate citizenship
- Environment, health and public safety
- Labour and employment relationships
- Consumer relations
- Impact of the company’s activities and services
- Social and economic development
- Reputational management
- Whistle blowing
Sasfin ensures ethical conduct through local and global policies and frameworks. Sasfin’s focus is not only on business achievements, but also on ensuring that sound business practices and strong, ethical and sustainable principles create a solid base from which business is conducted. An example of this is the emphasis we place on TCF – a programme that outlines engagement principles for our client interactions.
This approach begins at an organisational level and extends into the communities in which we operate. We recognise that the sustainability of our business is strongly dependent on the strength and resilience of our society. As such, we ensure that our impact on our communities is positive and, in conducting our business, that we find ways to enhance the lives of our clients, colleagues and communities. This goes beyond philanthropic commitment, and is written into our core governance.
Key social sustainability and environmental drivers identified.
Sasfin recognises that the banking and financial services sector has an important role to play in environmental sustainability and social support, both in South Africa and globally. To this end, we are guided by a cohesive Social and Environmental Management System (SEMS) which assesses the impact of Sasfin, and that of its clients, on the broader environment.
We view economic growth, social equity and environmental integrity as interdependent outcomes of all sustainable development. This makes the integration of social, economic and environmental factors in our business operations essential, not only for operations, but for planning, implementation and decision-making.
This ensures that our business remains sustainable and responsible while serving present and future business partners.
Financing of SME clients
Sasfin provides financial solutions to various sectors within southern Africa. Approximately 24% of our total lending focuses on trade and accommodation; 21% to financial, real estate and business services; and 15% to manufacturing. The Group continues to fund the backbone of the South African economy by funding SME financing solutions, which employs the largest portion of the country’s people.
Among its initiatives, Sasfin has built on its alliance with a SANTACO affiliate, which is one of the largest recognised taxi associations in South Africa. The Group funds SANTACO’s members to enable them to maintain and renew their fleets to sustain their businesses and provide an essential basic transport service.
Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment
Sasfin recognises the importance of ensuring that the socio-economic inequalities that prevail in the country are addressed to support our economy and uplift the people within it. We regard the FSC as an excellent model upon which to base targets and strategies for the achievement of greater equity, and are pleased to note that the FSC has been rejuvenated as a sector code.
Sasfin has been awarded a SANAS-accredited Level-4 score by an independent, approved verification agency. Click here to view certificate.
In 2017, Women Investment Portfolio Holdings Limited (WIPHOLD) became a significant and credible shareholder of reference, holding 25.1% of Sasfin’s shares in issue. This transaction makes Sasfin one of the country’s most empowered banks from an ownership perspective and underscores Sasfin’s commitment to transformation.
Sasfin continues to make good progress in ensuring that its employee demographic profile, its procurement practices, Socio-Economic Development initiatives bring real benefits to its stakeholders. Sasfin continues to develop relationships and programmes with organisations that focus on entrepreneurial development such as the Sabi Sands Trust, ORT Jet, and the Maharishi Institute. These programmes ensure that people with the relevant interest, but lack of resources, obtain skills, education and the experience they require to start their own businesses.
In addition, Sasfin actively supports entrepreneurial thinking through education, and is in the process of establishing an Academy for Entrepreneurship. Progress on this will be reported in the next financial year.
Our programme with the Maharishi Institute has seen an entrepreneurial module added to students’ courses. Sasfin funds both the lecturer and the material. Students have begun running small businesses on campus, and a speaker series connects successful entrepreneurs from all walks of life with smaller entrepreneurs to share learnings and advice.
Our contribution to the Sabi Sands Pfunanani Trust assisted a small business development plan that supported 71 businesses with management and technical training; mentorship, sales and marketing support. Sasfin’s funding particularly supported the provision of post-training coaching and mentorship, including assisting these businesses to access capital investment.
Sasfin continues to support black-owned businesses through its Private Equity investment model and will seek to improve access to financial services with the rollout of its transactional banking initiative.
In the community
Sasfin understands that our role is integral to encouraging investment and savings, which aid the development of sustainable businesses which, in turn, support communities and grow our economy. While we support a wide variety of organisations through donations and sponsorships, our focus remains on organisations that promote socio-economic development and entrepreneurial growth.
Our flagship projects are managed through organisations such as included Afrika Tikkun, The Smile Foundation, Junior Achievers, and Hospice Wits.
We will continue focusing on enhancing our relationships with existing flagship projects partners, while developing a pipeline of support from Early Childhood Development right through to Further
Education and Training career placement. This will develop entrepreneurial skills and, in so doing, provide much-needed support to South Africa’s socio-economic development plans. Employee volunteerism continues to assist in project implementation, further evidencing the strong corporate culture in place.
We are pleased to report that, for the year under review, the monetary value of significant fines, and the total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations, as well as laws and regulations concerning the provision and use of products and services, was nil.
An amount of R2.827 million has been deposited with the Corporation for Public Deposits in terms of an alleged contravention of exchange control regulations as disclosed in note 9 to the Consolidated and Separate Annual Financial Statements.
Adoption of SEMS framework
SEMS aims to align with the Company’s objectives to develop and maintain appropriate systems and controls with the social and environmental requirements and standards set out by international best practice. It draws from the Equator Principles, United Nations Global Compact Principles, OECD recommendations regarding corruption, World Bank standards, as well as local legislation aimed at redressing the social and labour issues pertinent to South Africa.
The framework is integrated into Sasfin’s operational processes and is overseen by the SEC.
Sasfin recognises that we have a responsibility to ensure our clients’ activities do not have a negative social and environmental impact. Therefore we consider environmental and social risks in our business decisions and activities, particularly in higher-risk industry sectors such as heavy industry and mining.
To manage those social and environmental risks and impacts, as well as to enhance development opportunities, Sasfin measures eight performance standards aimed at promoting sound environmental and social practice, encouraging transparency and accountability, and contributing to positive developmental impacts. These principles are encapsulated in our SEMS framework.
In addition, Sasfin employs an environmental co-ordinator as a further control mechanism to manage Sasfin’s environmental impact by screening corporate clients against Sasfin’s SEMS risk framework. The environmental co-ordinator is mandated to create a consistent approach to environmental and social management by facilitating appropriate systems, policies, performance standards, monitoring and assurance within the Group’s operations and responsible financing considerations. This position reports to GRCMC and SEC which, in turn, provide oversight and guidance in managing the strategic direction of environmental systems.
In addition, these committees address issues associated with occupational health and safety in the building maintenance as well as employee occupational health and safety awareness. We have improved our ability to deal with medical emergencies and have, to this end, focused on increased training as well as the installation of advanced emergency lifesaving equipment at our head office.
Sasfin’s approach to the management of developing environmental legislative regulation is to develop compliance risk management plans to assess the regulatory risk, and introduce appropriate mitigating controls, where required. Sasfin monitors the developing environmental and social codes of industry best practice through the public consultation processes, such as the South African government’s Climate Change Response Green Paper. Sasfin is analysing how best to engage with suppliers on their environmental management practices, and will develop and roll out standards and tools in this regard during 2017.
Our carbon footprint is independently measured and was assessed at 6 410 tCO2e (2015: 6 336 tCO2e). This result may be marginally higher, but was achieved during another year of business expansion. We continue to introduce solar and other energy saving technologies to a number of buildings to reduce reliance on fossil fuel energy.
Climate change will also alter the manner in which risks are managed, making it necessary for Sasfin to re-evaluate its risk assessment models to include potential climate change risks and their monetary value.
Energy efficiency financing
Sasfin offers a number of products and has invested in a green energy consulting services company. These initiatives facilitate and assist our clients in becoming more energy efficient while lowering their energy costs. Examples include our Eco finance and Agri finance projects.
We have obtained funding lines for lending to qualifying green energy projects and have identified a number of energy-efficiency solutions, including Solar PV projects, which we now fund. Funds were obtained from the IFC and has been utilised inter alia for the financing of solar energy projects, the largest of which is an R11.5 million solar energy installation.
Sasfin is satisfied that our employment practices are non-discriminatory and meet both ILO labour standards as well as those prescribed by the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
Our human capital report provides an overview of the sound principles that Sasfin adopts in possible incentives rewarding, protecting and enhancing the skills of its employees as well as an overview of our employee demographics.
Additionally, our organisational culture lends itself to recognition and development through a flat management structure. We operate an annual wellness day to allow employees to assess their health and have access to professionals who can assist them with improving their wellness. We continuously engage with our people through platforms such as employee engagement sessions, a climate survey, open and honest management style, and strategy sessions. Our approach to these interactions is guided by our code of ethics and our values.
No incidences of non-compliance were reported in 2016. Where complaints to bodies such as the Ombudsman for Banking Services of South Africa were made, these were either resolved or determined in favour of Sasfin.
Sasfin remains focused on implementing the Anti-Bribery and Corruption regulation and has rolled out large-scale awareness programmes. We have also passed on the six TCF principles outlined by the FSB.
Sasfin is closely tracking the legislative developments recently announced by National Treasury, particularly the Financial Sector Regulation Bill of 2015 which, among other objectives, aims at protecting the interests of consumers of financial products, ensuring clients are treated fairly, and driving consumer education in this regard. Sasfin is well poised to meet the market conduct requirements anticipated under the Twin Peaks regulatory framework which is still to be introduced.
Sasfin has reviewed, responded and applied amendments made to the National Credit Act to continue responsible lending. With regards to the POPI Act, the Group monitors the regulatory environment and has proactively begun to prepare internal and external systems to comply.
Sasfin continues to provide educative and informative material on large-scale economic events through a wide range of mediums, enhancing our reputation and brand as responsible business.