South Africa Builds Sustainable Communities Through Visionary CSR

StreetSmart South Africa

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, South Africa has made a decisive break with the past. A national vision for sustainable development is now constitutional law, recognizing that it’s impossible to separate the issue of environmental sustainability from those of social and economic development. At the ground level, there are many individuals creating a new South Africa with real world results through visionary programs.



Set up in 2005 by Margi Biggs, StreetSmart SA operates 83 restaurants in Africa that distribute proceeds to organizations working to get children off the streets. Biggs brought the StreetSmart concept to South Africa when she discovered the global project while dining in London on a business trip. She spotted a card on the table that encouraged patrons to add a small amount to their bill in aid of the homeless, which inspired her to collaborate with her many contacts in South Africa.

Biggs has been involved in the tourism industry for 23 years, running her own Southern Africa DMC, Specialized Tours & Events, which has incorporated StreetSmart as part of its corporate social responsibility program.


Through sustainable employment, Monkeybiz South Africa focuses on women’s economic empowerment and health development in the most economically under-resourced areas of South Africa. The project has established a vibrant community of more than 450 bead artists, many of whom are the sole breadwinners within their households. Departing from the culture of mass-produced curio craft, each Monkeybiz artwork is unique and signed by the artist.

All of the profits are reinvested back into community services, including weekly soup kitchens.


Original T-Bag Designs make ‘Functional Art’ out of recycled tea bags. Used tea bags are dried, emptied, ironed and then painted. Each artist has his or her own signature style and patterns reflecting their African heritage, and no painted tea bag is identical. These miniature works of art are then applied to stationery, wood items like boxes, trays and coasters, and even fabric items. For a group of previously disadvantaged people in Hout Bay near Cape Town, the burgeoning painted tea bag industry has definitively increased a sense of community, excitement and financial security.


Walthers DMC was recognized by Site International for CSR initiatives incorporated into incentive programs. The company’s Ezweni school project has resulted in six new classrooms and an administration building with a 10-workstation computer lab.
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Dragonfly Africa DMC says there’s a growing recognition that it’s not enough to create an awesome incentive program without including an element that will give back to the less fortunate communities of South Africa. Toward that end, Dragonfly Africa has created a unique township experience.