Sharing value

Our approach

We have matured our approach to corporate citizenship to include both corporate social responsibility (CSR) as well as corporate shared value (CSV). The importance of this step lies in the fact that it recognises that our support for society is integral to the way we do business, and not something which stands separate. Shared value involves developing profitable business strategies that deliver tangible social benefits. In other words, identifying societal challenges within a company’s sphere of operation and finding ways of addressing these for the mutual benefit of communities and the company. We take a very active approach to CSV both regionally and globally, driving key initiatives in support of our three primary stakeholder groups―employees, customers and the local communities in which we operate.

Projects are aligned with and support business priorities and needs, and are developed with input from key stakeholder groups. While each region has its own programmes, these conform to common themes which are aligned with our business needs and priorities and which include education, local community support, the environment and health and welfare. We encourage employees to participate in outreach and community projects. Our support is focused on the communities where we have an impact. Our preference is for multi-year programmes which create sustained impact in our communities. We have prioritised community support projects with a particular focus on education, environment, health and welfare.

In addition, support for activities associated with access to Sappi land and conservation efforts, such as biodiversity and species mapping, mountain biking and recreational birding continues to grow.

The fact that Sappi is headquartered and listed in South Africa, coupled to the significant development and unemployment needs of the country, dictates a higher focus on CSR and CSV activities by SSA.

The underlying goals of our programme are to create a stronger social licence to operate, build our reputation as a responsible corporate citizen, establish customer loyalty and attract talent.

Our Group Corporate Citizenship Policy (see, provides a global framework used by each operating region to guide local activities We have revised our policy to respond to the evolution in community expectations, societal priorities, customer requests and the opportunity to achieve some of these through targeted supply chain actions. The policy reflects our preference for the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach and references our alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Details of initiatives are covered in our regional sustainability reports (see We present a snapshot of our initiatives on the following pages.

Social investment spend per region

Social investment spend per region | Stats

Sappi Europe

Employees are encouraged to nominate and participate in local community projects and events. The Sappi Eco- effectiveness campaign is supported by showcases of initiatives from Sappi staff. At a local community level our focus is to add to the wellbeing, safety and health of our communities. Each Sappi mill and sales office support various local education, cultural and environmental projects based on annual requests and identified needs.

In terms of specific activities per mill:

  • Alfeld Mill spearheads SEU’s membership of the Save Food initiative, a joint initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Messe Düsseldorf and Interpack, the world’s leading trade fair for processes and packaging. Through projects, trade fairs and conferences, the initiative aims to increase awareness among decision makers from the worlds of politics, business and industry of the critical need to fight food waste. The initiative was set up in response to the shocking fact that one-third of all food is wasted or lost in transit to the end customer.
  • Ehingen Mill donates paper to schools and various associations and hosts school children at the mill to give them an idea of what our industry is all about. The mill also hosts job fairs and job orientation sessions for students whereby they come into the mill for a week or more to learn about the mill’s activities. Every year the mill also provides the paper for a book aimed at teaching school children about traffic safety.

    To learn more about our support of the town of Ehingen which has declared itself as a ‘Sustainable City’ (see Key relationships – Civil society (and media)).

Workers | Image

  • Gratkorn Mill hosted a charity run for employees and their families in 2018. The six-kilometre run took place on the mill premises and for every kilometre run, the mill donated one Euro. The €2,000 collected was donated to the Children’s and Youngsters Rehabilitation Department in a hospital next to our mill.
  • At Kirkniemi Mill, 2% of savings from continuous improvement initiatives is allocated by employees to local charity organisations. In 2018, these were:
    • Hope: The aim of this association is to give children more equal opportunities for everyday life. Hope used the donation to buy Christmas food for families of limited means.
    • Save the Children: The local organisation sponsors children from poor families to attend high school
    • Jalava School: This school, which caters for special needs children, used the donation to take the children on an outing.

Kirkniemi Mill is a member of the Association for Water and Environment of Western Uusimaa (fin Länsi-Uudenmaan vesi ja ympäristö ry, LUVY) which promotes research, monitoring and state of water bodies in the Western Uusimaa of southern Finland and works with in the areas of water conservation, environmental protection and environmental health.

Sappi North America

Ideas that Matter

As an integral part of SNA’s corporate social investment platform since 1999, the Ideas that Matter grant programme has funded over 500 non-profit projects and contributed more than US$13 million to a wide range of causes that use design as a positive force in society. The programme is open to North American designers who have partnered with a non-profit organisation and developed a communication campaign that is ready for implementation.

SNA made nine grants in the 19th annual Ideas that Matter programme, where financial support is given to designers who create print integrated projects to maximise social impact.

The nine projects selected this year in the 19th annual Ideas that Matter programme highlight how design and creativity can help solve prominent social issues. Through communication projects and campaigns using paper and print, the winning projects focus on:

  • Educating high school students about the environment and sustainability
  • Promoting literacy (two projects)
  • Preventing sexual harassment
  • Providing guidance on healthier ways of eating
  • Designing measurable and sustainable impact projects
  • Encouraging young adults to explore careers in design and creative problem solving
  • Helping student survivors of sexual violence, especially women of colour, LGBTQ, and gender non-conforming individuals to understand their rights on campus and determine what actions they can take to hold their colleges accountable to their needs, and
  • Providing San Francisco and Bay Area residents with disaster preparedness guides.

Ideas that Matter proposals are evaluated on creativity, plans for implementation and potential impact by an independent panel of judges who are selected annually and are recognised for their commitment to design for social impact.

We profile a few of the winners in the box on the following page (see for details of other winners in 2018).

In 2017, we launched the Employee Ideas that Matter programme which is proving extremely successful. In 2018, there were 50 applications, of which 11 were successful and which received funding to the value of a total of US$25,000. The grants have been made to wide-ranging projects, including support of the Fond du Lac Head Start Programmes in Minnesota for a children’s educational event celebrating the local Ojibwe Native American culture, and the Lehigh Pennsylvania Valley Centre for Independent Living to fund an inclusive fishing event allowing people with disabilities to access and experience outdoor recreation.

Supporting the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®)

SNA sponsors two university students to attend the SFI Annual Conference. Sponsorship covers the students’ registration, all meals including the networking dinner, a two-night hotel stay and a travel stipend. SNA has also been donating the paper for the SFI Sustainability Report since 2009.

Supporting environmental initiatives

Beneficiaries of our support include:

  • The Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS): Creates healthy forest habitat for the benefit of ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other forest wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop this habitat utilising scientific management practices.
  • Dovetail Partners: Conducts forest dwelling bat surveys in Aitkin and Carlton counties in the state of Minnesota in support of a broader initiative related to bat habitat conservation efforts in the state.
  • The University of Minnesota Sustainable Forests Education Cooperative: Offers continuing education opportunities to forestry and natural resource professionals in a broad range of fields, including forest ecology and management, wildlife biology, forest hydrology, botany, best management practices, technology transfer, and human dimensions of natural resource management.

Award recipient:

READ TO ME! (US$20,527)

A book and learning tablet to be included in Parent-Child Home Program’s (PCHP) early childhood literacy program for under-resourced families. These educational tools were designed and written to help simplify the parent-child interaction when reading together in order to build critical school readiness skills.

Reading Books | Graphic

Sexual Harassment Protest | Image

Award recipient:

Sexual Harassment Prevention Initiative (US$16,000)

A comprehensive and transformative sexual harassment prevention initiative designed to engage individuals, businesses and institutions in building sexual harassment-free communities where harassment is no longer ignored, but eliminated. Tools include a training manual, digital communications and outreach material

Award recipient:

Sound The Mound (US$40,722)

Curriculum toolkit, technology-driven public art installations, exhibits and a supporting website focused on educating high school students about waste, sustainability and environmental health. The toolkit will be used by students who visit Freshkills Park (formerly the world’s largest landfill and now a park) and will be downloadable for use throughout the country.

Sound the mound | Graphic

Path to impact | Graphic

Award recipient:

Path to Impact (US$30,000)

Integrated campaign providing an actionable and accessible framework of activities to guide organisations, communities and individuals through the process of designing measurable and sustainable impact projects. The campaign includes a comprehensive workbook with design thinking exercises, as well as workshop and training strategies.


Sappi Southern Africa

Employee Wellbeing Committees at each mill support local community projects based on annual requests and identified needs. These are coordinated via the annual Mandela Day (67 minutes) initiative. In addition, project support is provided to Sappi forestry communities including fresh water, ablution facilities, fencing, buildings and structures and vegetable gardens.

As South Africa is a developing country characterised by high levels of inequality, shared value is particularly important in advancing socio-economic development. We have a number of initiatives in place to drive shared value including:

Socio-economic development

  • The Sappi Khulisa supplier and enterprise development programme (‘Khulisa’ means ‘to grow’ in isiZulu), was established in 1983. A shared value enterprise development initiative, previously known as Project Grow, it is aimed at community tree-farming. Since 1995, a total volume of 3,796,940 tons of woodfibre, to the value of ZAR21 billion, has been purchased from small growers in terms of this programme. Sappi Khulisa represents a win- win situation―it drives prosperity and skills development and also helps to ensure continuity of fibre supply to our mills. The programme has also helped create hundreds of businesses to support the tree farmers as well as a training centre to upskill the farmers in areas such as financial management and forestry practices.
  • The African Honey Bee (AHB) project is positively impacting on communities in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province. The AHB project is a social enterprise enabling families from disadvantaged rural communities to build sustainable micro-beekeeping businesses by leveraging the natural resources available to them. Over the past two years, AHB has trained 1,482 people in KZN. Of this number, 962 people are actively keeping bees and producing and selling honey. In addition to empowering people, the project is helping to reduce fires from honey hunting on our plantations.
  • The Abashintshi (the ‘changers’ in isiZulu) programme: Established in 2015, in conjunction with development agency, Devcom, programme has expanded from 18 Abashintshi in nine communities been expanded to 117 Abashintshi across 65 Sappi communities in KZN and Mpumalanga. These young people are transferring skills to their communities and helping Sappi engage with the communities. Many have also begun to generate an income for themselves through their own businesses while they motivate other community members to restart or improve their own businesses. During 2018, 190 such micro- and small businesses were started or rejuvenated, earning an income for 268 people. Businesses range from brickmaking projects to poultry and pig farms, and from crèches to home industries. The programme is not only contributing to socio-economic development, it is also helping to boost morale and empower people.

    The programme includes life skills training for the youth, the Ifa Lethu programme for the elderly (protecting cultural heritage), the introduction of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) as the foundation for engagement with Sappi, as well as holiday programmes for school children.
  • A shared value alien invasive clearing programme at our mills in KZN in collaboration with the non-governmental organisation Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA). The aim is two-fold: to clear alien invasive vegetation on our mill sites and to develop small-, medium- and micro enterprises (SMMEs) within the surrounding communities. A total of 20 community members per mill are being trained and employed through the programme, with the goal of establishing viable businesses which would also serve other customers.

Comments from participants in the Abashintshi programme

“The Abashintshi have helped me understand how to handle money in my business; they have also helped with advertising the work that I do and I am very grateful for their contribution not only in my life, but also for everything they do for our community.”
Patrick Khumalo, carpenter and upholsterer


“ABCD training opened my eyes and I realised that I have a very lucrative business. Whenever I go out to sell my produce, I never come home with any of the stock, the business is really going well.”
Khumbulile Ngcongo, vegetable grower

SSA is a member of
Poverty Stoplight
and uses the tool to measure aspects of multi-dimensional poverty in the families of community beneficiaries so that we can target, prioritise and develop initiatives that speak to real needs on the ground.


Our support of education and training includes:

  • Early Childhood Development (ECD): In KwaZulu-Natal caregivers from Sappi communities are selected to gain qualification through the Training and Resources in Early Education (TREE) organisation. In Mpumalanga province we have established an ECD Centre of Excellence at the Sappi Elandshoek community through Penreach
    ( development).
  • Programme for Technological Careers (PROTEC): We support five PROTEC branches in Sappi communities (mathemathics and science classes for over 500 students per year in grades 10, 11 and 12).
  • Sappi Skills Centres: Located at Ngodwana and Saiccor Mills, these centres provide structured technical vocational skills training to increase employability and income generation. Candidates are also identified for artisan positions.

Mountain biking

Support for mountain biking not only reduces risk and improves stakeholder relations, but provides direct benefit to local communities through increased tourism spend measured at some ZAR231 million annually.

About the Warburgia salutaris

The Pepper Bark Tree of South-eastern Africa, Warburgia salutaris, is endangered in the wild because of heavy harvesting of its much sought-after bark for traditional medicine. The name ‘salutaris’ which means ‘health-giving’, references the tree’s medicinal properties. The bark and roots of the tree are used to treat various ailments. As the trade in medicinal plants has become increasingly commercialised, the harvesting of the tree has become unsustainable and Warburgia salutaris is being wiped out across its habitat.

Warburgia salutaris was assessed by the IUCN as endangered in 1998 because of its limited distribution. The tree is not only threatened by harvesting for medicinal use, but also by land-use changes. It grows slowly, increasing its susceptibility to overharvesting.

The tree is already extinct in the wild in Zimbabwe and is considered critically endangered in Swaziland.


  • We provide support to various environmental organisations including the SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute), Birdlife SA, WWF-SA, The Honorary Rangers of the Kruger National Park, and the UCT Animal Demography Unit (ADU) indigenous tree mapping project.
  • The Pepper Bark Tree (Warburgia salutaris) project supports the efforts of the Kruger National Park to protect South Africa’s most endangered tree by reintroducing the tree into communities. Sappi’s intervention has enabled seedlings to be grown on a large scale. Seedlings are being grown for distribution to communities and an annual target of 15,000 seedlings is ensuring the tree is being reintroduced across many communities in Mpumalanga province and Swaziland in sustainable numbers.

Woodlands | Image