Nadia lives by Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset‘s words: ‘I am I plus my surroundings, and if I do not preserve the latter, I do not preserve myself.’ This links back to all the great influences in her life, including her parents and previous leadership teams she’s worked for.

Nadia explains: ‘I am thankful for positive influences in my life and I do not attribute my personal journey to any one person. Inspirational people and experiences have played an important role in the continuous development of my professional career and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I have worked for institutions with exceptional people, built on sound principles, and at their core incredible leadership structures which have had a profound impact on my life. My parents are an inspiration and make a big difference in the communities they serve. Growing up, my brothers and I were surrounded by various impact initiatives, which formed a large part of who we are today.

’One such initiative is the Sešego Foundation, which her mom founded 14 years ago and for which Nadia is a passionate ambassador. Sešego was established to make a sustainable difference in the lives of vulnerable people in South Africa. The ethos of Sešego hinges on the spirit of ubuntu to mobilise people willing to offer their time, skills, and donations to help various socially significant projects in communities across southern Africa.  The foundation is making a real difference, having touched the lives of over a million people, and financially and in-kind contributed in excess of R38 million to help communities so far.

Says Nadia: ‘I support Sešego because of its measurable impact initiatives and strong governance structures. We need more investable causes such as Sešego, and that’s where I believe the profession can play a big role.’

‘We are responsible for one another; the future is dependent upon a network of socially responsible citizens.’

The chartered accounting profession can put these words into action, explains Nadia, by using specific, established skill sets to make a meaningful impact. Sešego is just one example of what can be done.

With over 100 000 registered not-for-profit organisations in South Africa, Nadia believes we can make a real difference in while protecting resources, challenging injustices, and welcoming new possibilities.

Some of the key challenges business leaders – especially CSI causes – face is to produce meaningful reports, ensure compliance, and address sustainability. ‘Integrated reporting, in particular, is invaluable and provides a framework we can utilise to assist CSI causes to demonstrate how they create and sustain value to attract more supporters for their cause. It allows us to demonstrate an ethical code of conduct to address the issues of environmental, social and corporate governance, as well as sustainability, sound financial management practices and socially responsible investing, while promoting transparency and good corporate governance,’ says Nadia.Another challenge faced by CSI causes is access to good quality and trusted impact data and analyses. This presents another opportunity where the profession can make an impact. CAs(SA) can introduce innovative ways and improved solutions to track and measure the impact of projects. If CSI causes can quantitatively illustrate the impact of their initiatives, they can energise and mobilise volunteers and supporters to further develop vulnerable individuals and communities.

Through awareness of the profession’s responsibility to promote and support sustainable goals, Nadia feels the profession can leverage its leadership role in society and become a critical player by creating value in protecting resources now and in the future. As CAs(SA) we have an opportunity to differentiate ourselves and become a centre on excellence for research and advice to support the UN’s SDGs.

Nadia believes we all have a responsibility to live our lives in a socially, economically and environmentally conscious way, in line with the UN’s SDGs. She says we can do so not just on a business level but on a personal one too, which includes something as simple as supporting local entrepreneurs, artists, products, and socially responsible businesses that give back to communities.

For those inspired by Nadia’s story to support CSI causes and transform the world community by community, she shares a snippet from Mary Oliver’s poem ‘The Summer Day’: ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

There are myriad ways the chartered accounting profession, both as individuals and overall, can make a sustainable contribution. The success of CSI causes overall is largely dependent on the collective, whether investing financially in the cause, creating awareness or giving of time through volunteering or mentoring.

So let’s each make use of our own talents and strengths and help make the world a better place. Here are some of the ways you can make a difference:
• Mentoring and providing strategic guidance to entrepreneurs, small businesses and NGOs as future business leaders
• Sponsoring a student or providing internships for in-house training
• Sharing ideas and fostering innovation with the industry
• Supporting, transferring and teaching financial literacy
• Sharing insight into good corporate governance and compliance principles• Incubating new or start-up businesses, which are critical to the success of our country given the high unemployment rate
• Introducing innovative ways and improved solutions to track and measure the impact of projects

You can take things a step further by adopting an SDG and partnering with a CSI cause or platform such as Sešego, which can assist you to identify additional opportunities or investable causes through which to make an impact.    

Professional volunteers are the key to delivery of the sustainable development goals faster and more effectively – so heed the call to stand up, stand for a cause and take action today.