Strate was named the winner of the Inaugural Conscious Companies Awards held at an evening gala event on 11 May in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
There has been much to be said about the inclusivity of stakeholders to create and nurture shared value, as opposed to shareholder value, says Strate CEO Monica Singer. “Companies are typically seen as vessels with limited liability, no heart nor soul. However, to be acknowledged as a company that is recognized for bringing humanity to capitalism is amazing, because it shows that Strate has the heart and soul to make a fundamental difference in its ecosystem,” she says.
Given that the world is interoperable, Singer truly believes in Ubuntu and that ‘we are because you are’ and encourages businesses to recognize that they should be consciously making a positive impact to the stakeholders within the communities that they operate in.
Conscious companies, by their very definition, operate with a sense of higher purpose and recognise the inherent value of linking business success with the socio-economic upliftment of the rest of society. “Truly conscious companies understand the need to be authentic in what they do and in driving change for the greater good, showing that caring forms part of their DNA in everything that they do,” adds Singer.
Her desire to change the world led to the creation of a company that truly cares for and nurtures its employees. A company can create magic by caring for people, because those people will go on to achieve their form of greatness, creating ripples of change across society.
“Since its inception, Strate has made it our end goal to put the needs of the country first by embracing solutions that simultaneously transform and revolutionise markets and empower South Africans. We started by digitizing securities settlement in the financial market because it was in the best interest of South Africa’s financial markets.”
Prior to the birth of Strate, the country was ranked the worst emerging market for operational and settlement risk. Daily trades on the stock exchanged average 4000 in a day. The company has spent the past two decades building on those capabilities for the benefit of all South Africans, and as a result, South Africa is now rated among the top economies globally for financial market development and regulation of its exchanges. Trades average 280 000 on a bad day in today’s market. “Our philosophy has been to sell trust and its purpose has always been to serve the market for the greater good, in everything we do,” she explains.
Strate’s success has been underpinned by the spirit of collaboration. “Twenty years ago, we worked together with the financial market to transform the way things worked. Over the years, we have been working with various companies to boost financial literacy. Interestingly, companies like the Maharishi Institute and Thomson Reuters are some of those companies, and they have too been recognized as finalists in the Conscious Companies awards. Going forward, we are working with various parties locally and globally to embrace disruptive technologies and how it will change the lives of people for the better.”
75 companies were nominated for the award. Nominees were judged against the criteria listed below, where the company:
• understands what it takes to be authentic
• operates with a higher sense of purpose
• integrates the interest of all stakeholders
• develops visionary leaders
• builds a culture of trust, accountability, governance and caring
• encourages creativity and innovation
• is a responsible citizen in the communities that they operate in
Strate put forward its evidence for the criteria, with many examples of collaboration to create shared value. The company put forward its education initiatives across the board, conducive working environment for employees, as well as efforts to uplift the Africa and Middle East region. Further to this was examples of how it reinvests in the financial markets by way of its Special Purpose Reserve Fund, a fund that collects fines for non-compliance with Strate’s Rules and Directives that then pays for market education initiatives – from grass root to the highest degrees in finance at some prestigious South African universities.
Prof. Mervyn King, together with Nomahlubi Simamane, Vukani Magubane and Dr. Essop Pahad formed the panel of judges. They selected finalists for the awards in two categories: The NGO/NPO/NPC category as well as Company category.
The winners in the NGO/NPO/NPC category were Afrika Tikkun, an organisation which is chaired by Singer. The Maharishi Institute’s Imvula Empowerment Fund was named the runner up.
The winner of the Company category was Strate, and Belgotex Floor Coverings was named the runner up.
“We would like to commend all companies recognized in the awards and others across the continent that share similar values. It reflects that we walk this journey together to secure a future that will bring prosperity to all,” concludes Singer.