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Social Case Study

6 January 2017

Illovo – supporting rural communities in Africa through health services and education

Illovo – supporting rural communities in Africa through health services and education


Illovo is Africa’s largest sugar producer, with agricultural and manufacturing operations in six countries - South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, Tanzania and Mozambique. Illovo is committed to social and economic investment within its local communities, particularly given the rural location of its operations and the challenges faced by communities in those areas.

What we did

Illovo enriches its local communities through various corporate social investment initiatives, as well as through significant economic contribution through direct and indirect taxation. Illovo often provides essential community support and, where local authorities are unable to do so, fills gaps in local infrastructure. This is done alone or sometimes in collaboration with international donors and funders, governments and non-governmental bodies.

In terms of its community outreach programme, Illovo has been involved over a lengthy period in a number of educational projects, including upgrades and administration assistance at 27 schools in six countries.  

Access to health care is provided to all our employees and their dependants, either through a self-funded network of group-run primary health care clinics and hospitals, or through the provision of medical insurance schemes. Total spend on employee health in 2015/16 amounted to R96 million (£4.6 million). Where no other suitable public medical facilities exist, these services are extended to members of our surrounding communities at nominal cost. In support of these activities, the company also provides public health services not supplied by government such as potable water, sanitation and refuse removal.

We operate 25 primary health care clinics and four hospitals, staffed with nine full-time and ten part-time doctors, together with other clinical and auxiliary staff. The focus of the health care service is on health promotion, preventative services and primary health care.

We also provide programmes focusing on primary and secondary health care, occupational health, HIV and AIDS, malaria and TB, and ensure we work closely with health programmes in our countries of operation. Control programmes for non-communicable diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes exist at all our operations, and we continue to provide services in respect of maternal and child health, reproductive health and neglected tropical diseases (e.g. bilharzia).


Hospital and clinic services are provided on-site for 6,500 employees and their family members. Illovo provided hospital and clinic services for 6,500 employees and their family members.

Illovo contributed R228 million (£11 million) in social benefits to employees and neighbouring communities, in the areas of health care, education, environmental management, capacity building, infrastructure support, enterprise development (over and above grower/supplier development) and other projects.

An example of Zambia Sugar’s socio-economic commitments to its surrounding communities includes its company-run Nakambala Private School which, for the 11th consecutive year in 2015, posted a 100% pass rate for all examination grades. Equally, no student in any of the school’s other classes failed their exams. This placed the school, in terms of academic performance, as the single-best performing school in the Mazabuka district, also achieving the top performing position for all Grade 9 and Grade 12 results in the Southern Province, and second position for Grade 7 results.

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