Pragma, South Africa’s leading enterprise asset management and reliability engineering experts, takes socio economic development (SED) seriously. Not because of what it means to its Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) rating, but due to the fact that it echoes its values. Says Attie Nieuwoudt, Chief Operating Officer: Pragma Holdings: “With regards to SED, Pragma’s focus has always been on creating access to the economy and the educational upliftment of youth. As a company, we want to get involved with projects where our employees or their families are already making a difference, so each year they get the opportunity to make suggestions. We know it not only gives recognition, but also improves their engagement.”
Nieuwoudt believes the real intent of SED as part of your BEE-rating, is that it can really benefit your company. He explains: “Through SED, you have the ability to live your values, to count your blessings and pay it forward, to help others less fortunate than you.” Pragma’s SED projects include Distance for Difference (D4D) bursaries for needy students and two wheelchairs for one of its own employees, Belinda Sampson.
Adds Nieuwoudt: “As a caring corporate citizen, we’re investing in the wellbeing of people in the areas that we operate in. By assisting Belinda, a Pragma employee, with sport wheelchairs, we’re investing in her ability to celebrate her successes as a basketball player. Furthermore, the sport is sponsored by one of our clients, Sasol, and it’s nice to also support their endeavours.”
Says 28-year-old Sampson: “I’ve been in a wheelchair for the past 26 years. I studied to become a legal secretary at Boland College and have been working for Pragma for over two years. I really enjoy it. Pragma allows me to express myself in an open plan environment.”
Sampson is a South African wheelchair basketball player. “Pragma sponsored me with a basketball wheelchair, which enables me to perform much better on court. It’s custom-made for my body which makes the world of difference. My two beautiful children come first in my life. Basketball is my second love. Pragma also sponsored a second wheelchair which has helped a lot. Being a disabled person in an able-bodied world is not the easiest thing, but everything I’ve faced in my life has been worth it.”
Nieuwoudt concludes: “Pragma strives to be an employer of choice for everyone, including those with disabilities. We want to remove barriers they face in order for them to become economically independent. One of our prerequisites for offices is that disabled employees must be able to get around with elevators, ramps, have access to kitchen areas as well as restrooms. Our aim is to help remove discrimination against people with disabilities, whether they’re in a wheelchair or blind. Companies need to get actively involved and help remove these barriers. Belinda is a wonderful addition to our team. She’s always friendly, has a can-do attitude, helps others and doesn’t allow any negatives life throws at her to get to her.”