Magadi soda foundation launched

Tata Chemicals Magadi cemented its commitment to the local community with the official launch of the Magadi Soda Foundation. More than 300 people joined foundation chairman Mike Odera and Josephine Lesiamon, country director of NGO AMREF Kenya, to mark an important milestone in the company's work promoting sustainable development.

Professor Bernard Waruinge, a TCM board member and foundation trustee, told guests that the foundation will spearhead the company's CSR programme. The company will support the foundation financially until it is able function independently.

The foundation seeks to promote tangible objectives, including health, water and sanitation,education, economic empowerment and transportation. It has attracted funding from partner organisations, including the International Medical Collaborative (IMEC), which has donated KSh4 million (approximately US$50,000) worth of medical equipment to the hospital in Magadi. This equipment will help both the 800 company employees and more than 30,000 people in the local community. It will reduce the time and money spent travelling to Nairobi.

Tata Chemicals' employees have led the fundraising activity. Last year, company wide, more than KSh2.5 million (approximately US$30,000) was donated to the Foundation. These funds were used as bursaries and scholarships to deserving secondary and university students from Magadi Division and Kajiado County (see story on facing page).

The Norwegian Competition Authority donated more than 60 computers, equipping four schools in the local vicinity.

An NGO, AIDS Population and Health Integrated Assistance, has partnered with the foundation on an HIV/Aids and Wellness Programme, which includes training for peer educators and a behaviour change communication strategy. The foundation is supporting water supply initiatives and, in partnership with AMREF Kenya, is upgrading and rehabilitating a 70-km pipeline that supplies water to Magadi.

The foundation is seeking support from the Government of Kenya and is engaging Tanathi Water Services Board to assist in this project. Equity Bank Group has trained more than 100 community members on financial management.

The bank has embarked on a Financial Management Knowledge for Africa Programme to improve people's financial skills. Equity Bank Group is one of Kenya's largest banks and has won accolades globally for its grassroots and bottom-of-the-pyramid approach.