Zimbabwe’s Zororo Phumulani has set the bar higher for Zimbabwean companies operating in the diaspora, after donating 40 laptops to deserving students studying at South African universities.

While it was Zimbabwean student Ethel Mavaivai who grabbed all the media attention on the night, Zororo Phumulani made a bold statement in the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) after handing out Lenovo laptops to deserving first-year university students.

This is the second year running that the funerals services provider has handed out laptops to first-year tertiary students at South African universities.

While the company gave laptops to Zim-born students studying in SA last year – and invariably attracted mixed media attention over the choice of the recipients – this year Zororo Phumulani defied the questions about who should benefit in its corporate social responsibility – by giving back to the communities to both Zimbabwean-born, and South African-born students.

Broadly CSR is a self-regulating business model that dictates that a company be socially accountable – not only to itself, but also to its stakeholders, and the public – through ploughing back in economic, social, and/or environmental initiatives.

CSR for companies operating cross-border businesses are largely undefined- where do one’s obligations lie – and balancing responsibilities for a Zimbabwean company operating in South Africa are unclear, as those boundaries are not clearly defined.

Not only did Zororo Phumulani make news in the run-up to choosing this year’s recipients, but the company partnered with big South African media brands in the form of The Star newspaper of Johannesburg, public broadcaster SABC, and selected media organizations in selecting this year’s deserving laptop recipients.

Donating to both Zimbabwean-born and South Africa-born students will have sent a message that emphasizes cross-border integration, breaking down of barriers and focusing on inclusivity, co-operation, and growth of partnerships.

Speaker after speaker at this week’s event lauded the company for the laptops gesture, emphasizing that educating communities, whether Zimbabwean students of South African students, was a team effort, and the Zororo was proving that much could be achieved through private-sector and public institutions.

CEO, Edwin Anderson said that acquiring education was important in changing communities for the better. He emphasized that laptops by themselves would not make students pass, but having them during studies would make the process of education better, especially for students from previously disadvantaged 

Zimbabwe Consul General in South Africa, Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said that while Zimbabwe was still consumed by what had happened in the Chimanimani area and Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands, the donation by Zororo Phumulani was a game changer in showing the way over what Zimbabwean companies operating in foreign lands should be measured upon in terms of CSR.

The Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network (ZIMSN) applauded Zororo Phumulani’s initiative, after Nelson Mandela University analytical chemistry student Mavaivai, who relies on her Port Elizabeth-based mother for support, also received a laptop at the event.

Mavaivai made the news earlier this year after she struggled to secure registration at Nelson Mandela University, and only secured her place after the intervention of the ZIMSN.

“We are humbled with the work that Zororo-Phumulani has done. Ethel and her mother visited our office in January. They had lost hope. She had passed [matric], coming from a township school. She told me that she thought she doesn’t qualify to be in university. She wanted to take a gap year and do some work, saving for her education. We have gone out and lobbied for funds and she got registered at university,” said ZIMSN secretary general Shelton Chiyangwa.

From moments of losing hope, Mavaivai is certainly now one of the more famous Zimbabwean students in SA, and is not only in the news, but had her own moments in the limelight while receiving her laptop – rubbing shoulders with business people, the Zim/SA consul general, a great soccer star, media personalities, motivational speakers  and fellow first year students.

Former Zimbabwe footballer, Peter Ndlovu, who is Zororo Phumulani brand ambassador, urged the students to made good use of their new laptops, and said only through hard work could the students build a better future for themselves and their communities.

Some of the students who received laptops:

Xoliswa Tshaka
Amanda Dube
Myriam Motala
Mlungise Mkhize
Mbali T Mkhize
Shinga Mutonhori
Ethel Mavaivai
Yvonne Makwara
Tatenda Runanga
Prince Dube
Chido Chabuka
Natasha Dzadza
Tinotenda Sikanadze
Lucy Mhonde
Unopa Chikwenya
Tinotenda Mudzingwa
Mokoena Molelekeng
Ayabonga Tshitshi
Muzi Mthembu
Thandeka Makamba
Innocent Mashula
Phalandwa Mulweli
Thoba Mutshidzi
Phelane Keletso
Smanga Simelane
Rakhosa Serrongwa

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