The idea that business success is dependent on more than profits alone is underscored by the evident increase in social investment undertaken by Jet, South Africa's number one retail brand.
No doubt, superior performances across a broad range of merchandise categories contributed to the strength of Jet's recently published earnings but for 1.3-million Jet Club members it is more than quality apparel that ensures rock solid loyalty. Member benefits extend beyond the regular special price offers and magazine to reach into area of real need.
Most recently Jet has turned its attention to the housing backlog and the need for public private partnerships to assist government in meeting its delivery targets.
The solution to the housing crisis cannot depend solely on government funds, says Cameron Burt, manager of Jet Club. "The reality is that if the government is to meet its delivery targets it will need assistance from South African corporates, individuals and non-profit organisations."
The innovative, international non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity offers just such a convergence of stakeholders to assist in mitigating the housing crisis. Jet partnered with the organisation last year to build six simple, decent and affordable houses in Mamelodi, outside Pretoria. Following on from the success of that experience Jet Club have announced that it will be building another eight houses (for Jet Club members) in the next three months on sites throughout the country.
Burt explains: "Every year the Club sets aside a substantial portion of funds for social responsibility projects and we endeavour to use this money wherever the need is greatest and most relevant to our members. The housing crisis in South Africa touches every one of us and through our involvement with Habitat for Humanity we are able not just to contribute funds but actually make a difference by helping to dig the trenches and lay the bricks. Our staff volunteer in such numbers that we overrun the building site."
Ultimately, these houses become a symbol of hope for the future, not just for the new homeowners but also for the community as a whole, who witness what is possible when a few dedicated people come together to make a difference. And for Jet they are evidence of a sustainable approach to conducting business in South Africa.