UNICEF South Africa’s CEO Network wins 2020 Inspire Award

Recognising the CEO Network’s impact in mobilising support for children’s rights.

Daniel Hartford
UNICEF South Africa/2019/Leeroy Jason
06 July 2020

UNICEF South Africa’s CEO Network, a group of more than 25 corporate partners from the South African private sector, was announced as a winner at the global UNICEF Inspire Awards on 17 June 2020.

The awards, celebrating “exemplary campaigns and initiatives on fundraising, advocacy, communication and engagement”, received some 100 entries globally. After two rounds of selection, and in recognition of the CEO Network’s important work supporting the rights of children in South Africa, the judges announced the winners with the CEO Network leading the category of “Fundraising and Partnerships”.

UNICEF South Africa/2017
CEO Network members meet in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

UNICEF South Africa’s CEO Network is based on a simple objective: to create a forum for  leaders within the South African private sector to constructively engage with UNICEF around the Sustainable Development Goals as they relate to children. Since the CEO Network’s inception in November 2016, the group has continued to grow and has recorded some major achievements in providing water and sanitation infrastructure in schools, pioneering a Family Friendly Workplace Policy report in the South African private sector and supporting child protection through 20 Isibindi Safe Parks.

These achievements have attracted international attention and the CEO Network model is now being replicated through UNICEF country offices in Namibia, Botswana, Venezuela and Eswatini with Nigeria potentially to follow.

“The idea was born out of how much corporates were doing in the areas important to UNICEF, but how little collaboration there was between them."

Robyn de Villiers, Chair of the CEO Network

Key to the CEO Network’s success are the opportunities to share knowledge, collaborate and leverage influence and financing capacity. As Chair of the CEO Network, Robyn de Villiers explains, “The idea was born out of how much corporates were doing in the areas important to UNICEF, but how little collaboration there was between them. Recognising the convening power of UNICEF South Africa, the founding members set out to create a platform for collaboration amongst participating corporates”.


Now, with the immense challenges posed by COVID-19 and the South African lockdown, the CEO Network has mobilised a rapid and significant response with more partners joining the appeal. Focussing on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and the provision of psycho-social support to children under the lockdown, the CEO Network has, as of 1 July 2020, raised more than US$1,4M in cash and kind contributions with incoming donations continuing to grow.

CEO Network member contributions as of 1 July, 2020 include:

  • Envirosan and JoJo Tanks who are UNICEF implementing partners in the construction of at least 250 handwashing stations across South Africa.
  • Supporting psycho-social services for children, Standard Bank has donated US$31,000 and Momentum Metropolitan has donated US$25,000 to Childline South Africa.
  • Procter & Gamble have provided Pampers nappies as well as sanitary pads to the value of US$660,000.
  • Woolworths has donated 20,000 reusable cloth masks worth US$20,000 and sanitary pads to the value of US$62,000.
  • Contributions of US$11,250 from Truworths, US$7,500 from Discovery Vitality, US$22,000 from My School and US$300,000 from Unilever have been committed to UNICEF’s WASH response to COVID-19 with Unilever donating an additional 120,000 bars of soap to the value of US$320,000.

Over the past 3 years, UNICEF South Africa’s CEO Network has met 16 times between Cape Town and Johannesburg with the most recent dialogue taking place virtually in strategising the relief response to COVID-19. “I was worried”, says Carine Munting, UNICEF South Africa’s Partnerships Manager, “because moving online is not easy. But the mosaic of 69 faces – including CEO Network members and UNICEF staff – appearing on the screen once again reaffirmed that through the power of partnerships and the dedication of the CEO Network, there is much we can achieve for children in South Africa”.