New study on the impact of violence on communities and business in SA
BNP PARIBAS SOUTH AFRICA, WITH THE SUPPORT OF WHITAKER PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE, UNVEILS A NEW STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF VIOLENCE ON COMMUNITIES & BUSINESS IN SOUTH AFRICA
A study commissioned by BNP Paribas Group South Africa and its consumer finance arm, RCS, explored the long lasting and far-reaching effects of societal violence on communities and business in South Africa. The research was inspired by the work of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) which is supported by BNP Paribas and RCS as part of a five year partnership in the Cape Flats.
The inaugural research focused on the experiences of people living in South African ‘crime hot spots’. The study surveyed over 100 respondents from areas with high levels of gang violence, such as Eldorado Park in Gauteng and areas in the Cape Flats like Mitchell’s Plain, Kraaifontein and Athlone.
From the enduring psychological impact of violence on workers, to absenteeism and impaired job performance – the research found among other key takeaways that 81% of respondents said they – or a family member or colleague, had been late for work as a result of violence or crime, while 72% reported having missed work altogether.
Speaking yesterday at an event to unpack the study’s findings further, Vikas Khandelwal, Head of Territory for BNP Paribas South Africa, explained the critical need to better understand the relationship between violence and the effect it has on both the community and South African workplace. “As Corporate South Africa, we need to better understand and bolster peace efforts, not only to assist our staff and communities, but to alleviate the productivity impact on business to support a thriving economy. Before we can do this, we need to gain a deeper understanding of the complex and deep-rooted challenges facing our communities. This requires further research in the area of community violence, and the wide-spread impact this continues to have on employees, businesses and the wider economy.”
As a second speaker in the unveiling of the new research, Sandi Richardson, HR Executive at RCS used her in depth knowledge as a Human Resource professional to articulate an all too familiar issue. “53% of respondents in this survey reported that they – or a family member or colleague – had been mentally impacted at work as a result of violence or crime. We cannot address this issue in isolation. We need a collaborative and multi-faceted approach to promoting peace; in which the private sector must play a key role.”
Siphathisiwe Dhlamini, the Conflict Resolution and Peace Building Education (CRE) Trainer in Schools at WPDI contextualised the research and reinforced the problem of violence as a shared one. “Two thirds of the people surveyed in this study have been verbally threatened with violence, or verbally abused or threatened with a deadly weapon, with most threats coming from gang members and strangers.”
“Graduates of the WPDI programme are often young people from these surveyed areas, and are part of the communities most affected by gang violence. The research conducted by BNP Paribas & RCS is further evidence of the complexities and challenges faced by these residents, but the study also gives us hope that community engagement can address these key issues through our young ambassadors. This year’s cohort of peace makers will go out into the community to engage with residents to mediate conflicts and foster peace where it’s needed the most.” Siphathisiwe concluded.
At a macro, nation-wide level, these findings reflect the research of the 2020 Global Peace Index which lists South Africa as having the 22nd largest economic cost of violence ranked by GDP – on par with Zimbabwe which only has 13% of SA’s GDP. Despite being the second-largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is also marked by significant rates of poverty, unemployment, and income inequality, with 61% of young people – aged 15 to 24 unemployed, often have no choice but to join a gang for economic gain.
About Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI)
The Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) was founded in 2012 by artist, social activist Forest Whitaker, who is the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace & Reconciliation as well as member of the United Nations Advocacy Group for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WPDI is a non-governmental organization that operates in countries and regions impacted by violence and poverty.
We are a 501(c)(3) registered in California. Our mission is to empower young women and men living in vulnerable places to become leaders, peacemakers and entrepreneurs in their communities. We help them become mediators who will address tensions and conflict between and within communities with competence and confidence. We help them become community organizers who are equipped to reach out to other youth and undertake educational and cultural projects to promote peace, dialogue and tolerance. We help them become entrepreneurs who can create economic opportunities for themselves and their communities.
Our work is guided by our CEO/Founder’s philosophy that, in communities affected by endemic violence and long-standing poverty, change must come from within. We believe that local youth—as stakeholders who are both native to their communities and nonetheless open to new perspectives and ideas—are transformative insiders uniquely positioned to be powerful agents of peace and sustainable development. For more information please visit www.wpdi.org.
About BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas is a leading bank in Europe with an international reach. It has a presence in 71 countries, with approximately 199,000 employees, of which more than 151,000 in Europe. The Group has key positions in its three main activities: Domestic Markets and International Financial Services (whose retail-banking networks and financial services are covered by Retail Banking & Services) and Corporate & Institutional Banking, which serves two client franchises: corporate clients and institutional investors. The Group helps all its clients (individuals, community associations, entrepreneurs, SMEs, corporates and institutional clients) to realise their projects through solutions spanning financing, investment, savings and protection insurance.
In Europe, the Group has four domestic markets (Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg) and BNP Paribas Personal Finance is the European leader in consumer lending.
BNP Paribas is rolling out its integrated retail-banking model in Mediterranean countries, in Turkey, in Eastern Europe and a large network in the western part of the United States. In its Corporate & Institutional Banking and International Financial Services activities, BNP Paribas also enjoys top positions in Europe, a strong presence in the Americas as well as a solid and fast-growing business in Asia-Pacific.
The BNP Paribas Group in South Africa is represented by a full commercial branch in Johannesburg and BNP Paribas Personal Finance Ltd. (RCS) a consumer finance company based in Cape Town.
Founded in 1999, RCS is a leading consumer finance company that serves more than 2.5 million customers across South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. Having become a wholly-owned subsidiary of global bank BNP Paribas in 2015, the RCS group employs over 2000 people and offers a range of credit and personal finance products including Cards, Loans, Insurance and Car Finance.
Today, RCS is the largest provider of white label consumer finance products in South Africa, powering credit solutions for over 30 of South Africa’s largest retailers. Committed to uplifting the communities in which it operates, RCS – as part of its CSR initiatives and in partnership with TSIBA Ignition Academy – supports local start-ups through Level Up, an enterprise and supplier initiative. The initiative empowers local starts-ups to grow their businesses through various innovation and mentorship programmes.