The More Movement – Webhelp’s Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy – is about making business more human through inclusive and sustainable growth. A key strand of this is to impact education by building partnerships and directly sponsoring educational programs for workforce readiness.

That’s why, since 2014, Webhelp South Africa has been supporting Columba Leadership, a South African social enterprise that offers values-based leadership programmes for Grade 10 -12 learners, principals and educators.

Working with high schools in economically disadvantaged communities, Columba Leadership aims to ensure hundreds of thousands of young people live up to their potential and recognize their ability to lead change in their own lives, their schools and their communities.

Webhelp’s relationship with Columba Leadership began when they sponsored their first school, Fumana Secondary School in Katlehong, Johannesburg. Columba Leadership CEO Tracy Hackland said of the eight-year journey:

“Aligned in values and a committed ethos of putting people first has reaped benefits for Columba Leadership, Webhelp and under-resourced communities. Webhelp has offered enduring and dependable support to Columba as a relatively young organization since 2014, through the challenging COVID period, until today.”

During this time, Webhelp has supported 19 Columba Leadership programmes, with Hackland adding:

“The Webhelp investment in our programme has ensured hundreds of learners and at least 50 educators and principals from nine high schools in three provinces have been qualified as values-based leaders. Webhelp has also capitalised on the opportunity the Columba values-based programme provides: to develop the leadership capacity of its own staff. Thank you, Webhelp, for investing in us and in the future leaders of South Africa.”

2022 sees Webhelp sponsoring four schools in the Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal regions. Columba Leadership initiatives they will support to change the trajectory of South Africa’s youth to become more resilient, engaged, connected and future-fit include:

  • The Columba Leadership Academy: A five-day residential programme where learners, educators and Webhelp colleagues are immersed in the values of Columba Leadership. Those joining from Webhelp become ongoing coaches to learners on the Columba Leadership programme.
  • Pay-It-Forward Model: Webhelpers participating in the Academy become members of the Columba Pay-It-Forward Forum Group where they’ll coach and guide learners with their targeted projects for the year and encourage fellow game-changers to participate in working with Columba’s educators and learners.
  • Power Hour: Focused on inspiring learners in their final year of school to complete their matric, these one-hour sessions use peer-to-peer motivation where Webhelpers from similar backgrounds share their stories of coming into the world of work, post matric.
  • Career Days: Teams from the Columba Leadership schools are invited into Webhelp offices where learners showcase their chosen project for the year for bringing about positive change in their school and the local community. Webhelp colleagues then offer guidance on how to implement them successfully.
  • Site Visits: Learners are given site tours so they can understand more about Webhelp and job opportunities within Webhelp operations.

Cathy Kalamaras, Webhelp People Director of South Africa and Projects, explains:

“Myself and the team are honoured to continue to work with Columba Leadership and to play an active part in helping these learners live up to their potential. With South Africa’s high unemployment rate, it’s crucial that, as a community-driven company, we give young South Africans every opportunity to thrive. I am so proud of everyone’s willingness to support the Columba Leadership programme and of the fantastic calendar of initiatives we participate in.”

As well as utilizing their partnerships with the sponsored schools to showcase and speak about different careers within the BPO sector, and to assist with CV writing and interview techniques for all students, Webhelp will continue to engage with Columba Leadership to identify additional initiatives they can support them with as student’s transition from school into the world of work. This includes their Skills Accelerator, Webhelp South Africa’s Impact Sourcing model which allows Columba Alumni who have not had an opportunity to progress into further education to apply to enter their work readiness programme and gain valuable job experience.