Many of our readers are on sun loungers this month looking for a change of topic so we thought we would task our CEO with a question he is often asked which is why Sytel is providing charitable support to a fishing village in Samoa.
“Well, like most companies we have a healthy sense of corporate responsibility in wanting to put something back into society. Our ‘society’ is a global one and we set ourselves several objectives. We believe very strongly that giving to charity should be done with total awareness and a full understanding of where the donations go and how the money is spent. And we like being hands-on and getting involved! That’s why we directly sponsor a fisheries project on Manono Island in Samoa.
We chose fish over people not because people don’t matter but because without proper fish conservation then there may not be any people! But how to identify a project at grass roots level? Simple; we rang up the World Bank and asked to speak to the person in charge of fish! It was 2010, there had been a recent hurricane in Samoa and several villages were suffering as a result. The very helpful World Bank put us in touch with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in Samoa. There were several very worthy causes and we selected the village of Lepuia’i on Manono Island, which had suffered substantial damage to their fishing reserves.
MAF worked with us on a simple written policy which identified how the aid would be used, allowed for effective monitoring by MAF and led to the headman of the village opening a bank account so he could directly control how the money was spent.
I visited the island a couple of years ago and got a real feel for the strength of the community spirit in Lepuia’i. There was lively discussion about the merits of simply re-stocking the fish and shellfish versus putting effort in to regenerating the reefs so fish would naturally congregate and breed. The argument for sustainability won through and the villagers are positively involved in coral replanting and building artificial reef structures as part of the reef rehabilitation program.
There is a great sense of pride in the whole Lepuia’i community in what they are doing and we are delighted to be a part of it.”