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Goodwill Society, Prosperity’s conscience

Charity begins at home: Chief Executive Officer of Prosperity Group, Bertus Struwig last week donated N$350,000 to the Prosperity Goodwill Society as start-up capital. (Photograph by Musa Carter)

Charity begins at home: Chief Executive Officer of Prosperity Group, Bertus Struwig last week donated N$350,000 to the Prosperity Goodwill Society as start-up capital. (Photograph by Musa Carter)

With close to 100,000 beneficiaries and having a successful business spanning more than 20 years, Prosperity Group embarked on a mission of economic empowerment and social upliftment by establishing a Section 21 company, Prosperity Goodwill Society, specifically to serve as the group’s corporate social investment vehicle. The Economist had an interview with the Chief Executive Officer of Prosperity Group, Bertus Struwig on what prompted the establishment of the non-profit Goodwill Society. Said Struwig, “This year Prosperity is 20 years and next year we will proudly be 21. Over the 20 years we have taken our place in the Namibian business space, so now we obviously need to look at where we are going, not just building a Namibian company but also we are looking at making a contribution to the country at large.” Struwig who believes charity begins at home, said,“We often make a lot of donations for social responsibility, but in actual fact these donations do not really change lives. Within our view we need to address the problem.” The objective of the Goodwill Society is to create broad-based empowerment as a catalyst for social and financial aid to members that participate in and contribute to the Group’s success. The Prosperity Goodwill Society received a profit share of 10% to aid vulnerable Namibians with assistance for health and education and will be managed by representatives of funds administered by the Prosperity Group.

“We gave 10% of shareholding profit to the Society through an equity structure and now we can have the Society raise money not only as a shareholder but with the idea to start looking at members and how they can be assisted,” he added. Speaking about the route and target for the Society to flourish, Struwig said they started with a steering committee which they felt should be union and shop steward representatives of the various companies [for which Prosperity administrates the medical aid funds] since they have a connection with the work force, with the idea of getting close to the workers. “The Steering committee will hold office for [the interim] until we have our first Annual General Meeting next year, where members will elect their first full Board of Trustees,” he explained. On the distribution of funds allocated to the Goodwill Society, Struwig said that member representatives will nominate and appoint the Board of Trustees who will then act as a Management Committee.
In terms of the checks and balances to ensure the Society achieves its objectives he said the vehicle will always have income. He believes that the success of the Society is interlinked with Prosperity and will also be successful, just as the Prosperity Group.
Meanwhile if an organisation or individual wants assistance from the Society, Struwig said they will have to approach Prosperity, who will in turn forward it to the Goodwill Society after evaluation as they [the Society] will now be their face and conscience in terms of the projects for social responsibility.
He said that every member that belongs to any products of the Prosperity Group indirectly contributes to the Society.
“The funds exist out of the members but it does not mean the medical schemes will become more expensive,” he clarified. Struwig said the Prosperity Group will not only be the main “donor” to the Goodwill Society but that the Group would further subsidise it with administrative resources, management expertise and governance capacity.

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