Collaborating with the private sector and producing graduates who are socially responsive have always been among UWC’s main goals. So when students join forces with business to drive philanthropic initiatives, that calls for celebration.
This week the university hosted a donor recognition lunch to salute Argon Asset Management. For the past four years, the firm has not only funded students, and tutored and mentored them in maths, statistics and accounting, but has also partnered with them to assist high school learners in addressing their academic challenges and distribute sanitary pads, among many other initiatives.
“We don’t refer to them as students, but as young partners,” noted Dr Manas Bapela, Chief Executive Office of the Newlands-based firm. “They are partners because they are not passive recipients of anything but are involved in all the many activities that we do. We solve problems together.”
Dr Bapela revealed that his relationship with UWC dates back to his student days when he benefited from a scholarship to study abroad through a fund that former UWC Chancellor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was involved with. He has since kept contact with staff at the University and developed a strong partnership with the institution.
“It takes the whole village to raise a child. We recognised that, as much as UWC is busy raising the child, there is a role that we can play as part of the village. I hope this will trigger further engagements in terms of collaborations in the work that we do. There is so much that needs to be done. Society needs us more than ever.”
Student Mandilakhe Msomi said the firm has become a home away from home for them.
“Argon is involved in our lives in a personal capacity just as much as it is involved in our academics,” Msomi said.
“You have no idea how far that R50 you give us for transportation goes,” she told he Argon team. “You guys don’t know how refreshing it is to be out of campus and be in a space where asset managers ply their trade. Those things are in the movies we watch. It has been refreshing to work with people who give us the spirit to be socially responsive to the communities that we come from.”
Professor Pamela Dube, UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Students Development and Support, commended Argon Asset Management “for exposing our students to role-models like you”, and described the partnership as very relevant to South Africa.
“This is certainly one of the greatest gifts you have given our students,” Prof Dube said. “Local examples of excellence are what we need, and we need more of them. We are grateful to the entire team of Argon Asset Management for investing in our students with your time, experience, knowledge and funding.
“Over and above that, it is that personal engagement that comes with what you do as part of your contribution, that we truly appreciate. On top of funding you give also of yourselves. This is what makes our relationship perfect, and hopefully it will be on-going to the future.”