Safmarine’s Award-Winning CSI Programme Celebrates Two Decades
By Anuja Abraham
July 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the award-winning Containers-in-the-Community programme, Safmarine’s pioneering Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.
When integral reefer (refrigerated) containers were being phased-in during the 1990s to replace the ‘blown air’ or ‘Conair’ porthole reefer containers, a former Safmarine Director, Peter James, saw the potential of using these well-insulated boxes as much-needed infrastructure in marginalized communities.
Although a ready market existed for these second-hand containers (which were in high demand as offices and accommodation for building sites, amongst others), Safmarine decided to donate the majority of the containers to communities in need instead of selling them.
Before embarking on the programme, Safmarine commissioned a leading market research company to survey the acceptability of the old containers in less privileged communities. A total of 1,000 respondents, comprising homeowners, tenants and informal residents throughout Southern Africa, were interviewed.
The results showed that, while a certain number of the respondents felt a container could be used for basic housing purposes, most respondents preferred to see the containers used in a community support role – as a shop, clinic, pre-school, a library, classroom or resource centre.
This research formed the foundation for our ‘Containers-in-the-Community’ programme and in July 1992, Safmarine’s first container project - a Spazatainer* – was opened in the township of Langa, near Cape Town.