Category: Giving Back

‘Men in the Making’ initiative

Sage Pastel participated in the ‘Men in the Making’ initiative  by hosting 10 matric learners from Minerva High School in Alexandra Township.

The aim of the initiative is to help raise responsible young men as well as to build and restore the confidence of male school learners in South Africa by developing their understanding of business in our country.

Career advice, mentorship, guidance and support were the order of the day, with the boys visiting various departments, exposing them to different career paths within the business. They were very enthusiastic and curious during all presentations and were highly motivated and inspired by Sage Pastel Accounting’s MD, Steven Cohen’s presentation – “Leadership Journey in Business”.

The boys described Sage Pastel as the “coolest” company, with some indicating they would like to be hired by the company in the near future.

We would like to thank Sage Pastel BEE123 for embracing the ‘Men in the Making’ initiative and the Human Resource and Marketing departments for their support.

The initiative is sponsored by Tracker and endorsed by the Department of Education.

Saul Symanowitz (Divisional Manager: Sage Pastel BEE123) , Hon. Rob Davies (Minister: Department of Trade and Industry), Thulani Fakude (Business Development Executive: Sage Pastel BEE123)

Saul Symanowitz (Divisional Manager: Sage Pastel BEE123) , Hon. Rob Davies (Minister: Department of Trade and Industry), Thulani Fakude (Business Development Executive: Sage Pastel BEE123)

Sage Pastel, has donated R7.5 million of software, training and other support interventions to the newly formed Black Management Forum (BMF) SMME Programme.

Launched this week by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, the BMF is extending its support for the development and empowerment of black businesses in the SME sector.

“With a 70% first-year failure rate amongst local start-ups, small business owners need as much support as possible,” said Saul Symanowitz, head of Sage Pastel’s BEE123 division. “Foundational business systems and basic business knowledge are not always part of an entrepreneur’s skill set and the Sage Pastel business toolkit will go a long way to providing that support.”

Sage Pastel will contribute to the BMF SMME Programme by donating 500 toolkits to participating small businesses.  This business support system, which is dubbed the BMF SMME Business Bundle, covers the key areas of accounting, legal, human resources, BEE and marketing. The retail price of the toolkit would be prohibitive for most small businesses.

Sage Pastel has been the leading developer of business and accounting software for small, medium and growing businesses for over 23 years and acknowledges the importance of this sector in building the local economy.  “This donation is part of our on going support for small businesses in South Africa. SMEs play a vital role in economic growth and employment creation. It is essential to ensure that businesses operating in this sector are viable and sustainable in the long term.” comments Symanowitz.

Minister Davies stated that his department supports the development of strong and productive enterprises, endorsing President Jacob Zuma’s position of the need to develop black industrialists. He also indicated the importance of encouraging symbiotic relations between small and big business, and using BEE codes to ensure small business development and the growth and expansion of a healthy SMME sector.

The focus of Softline’s CSR strategy is education. The rationale for this is that today’s investment in education will empower the youth of our country to aspire towards uplifting themselves as well as their broader communities in the future.

The Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre was established in 1998 andis dedicated to Holocaust and genocide education and memory. The JHGC works widely in the field of Holocaust, human rights and genocide education.  In 2007, the South African Department of Education implemented a new National Curriculum, which contains a strong human rights focus.  Having operated from temporary premises, the JHGC has recently secured ground on which to build a permanent centre, which  will be a centre of learning for young and old, from all walks of life, to come together to learn from the histories of the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda.

Softline was recently very proud to be involved as a sponsor organisation with SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), an international non-profit organisation that brings together South Africa’s top leaders with students, with the aim of creating a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business.

SIFE hosted the SA 2012 national competition in July this year and 26 higher education institutions participated.  Participating students are required to form teams on their campuses and apply business concepts to develop outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.  The SIFE competition held last month was an opportunity for all teams to showcase the results from their projects and win the chance to compete in the SIFE World Cup.

SIFE South Africa CEO, Letitia de Wet says that all the participating teams showed great commitment in developing their communities and enriching their outreach through the creation of sustainable businesses. “It is heart-warming to see such commitment from these youths as it gives us hope that South Africa’s talent and entrepreneurial outlook is increasing – enabling a future led by inspiring and focused leaders who will constantly look for ways in which to not only develop their own skills but also integrate these learning’s and uplift the communities in which they operate.”

Nozipho Tshabalala, Organisational Development Consultant for Softline says that the sponsorship of the SIFE initiative is aligned to the Softline motto of not waiting for someone to help you, but rather taking steps to help yourself. “Learning about the projects and initiatives launched as a result of this competition has been inspiring, specifically the long term effects these students are having on the communities they live and study in.”

“Development of an entrepreneurial spirit is key for scholars and students in South Africa, and projects like these go a long way to educate young South Africans about starting and running small businesses with the added bonus of benefitting a community.”

The University of KwaZulu Natal has won consecutively for five years now, and this year they were awarded the National Champion title because of the outcome and impact they have achieved through the development and implementation of outstanding sustainable community outreach projects. As a result, they will be competing against winning teams from 38 different countries globally, where they will represent South Africa at the 2012 SIFE World Cup in Washington (D.C.), taking place from the 30th of September to 2nd October 2012.

We wish them all the best for this global competition and we at Softline are proud to be associated with such an uplifting initiative.


The sales team from Softline Pastel donated their time and year end function money to donate 1800 meals to Stop Hunger Now! The team will go out with volunteers over the next months to help with the distribution of their donated food parcels and see first-hand what difference their donation will make.

Feeling inspired with the Madiba Magic, Softline spent our 67 minutes with the children of Afrika Tikkun.

We spent a colourful morning painting egg cartons to sound proof their hall.

It was a fun filled morning celebrating the life and achievements of the wonderful Madiba!

Happy 94’th birthday Mr Nelson Mandela!

ImageSIFE is a global NPO which targets the tertiary student population to make a meaningful contribution towards developing entrepreneurs and business leaders.  SIFE is active on 1500 university campuses in 39 countries and challenges students to solve real business and economic issues within local communities.  The objective is for SIFE teams to create economic opportunities in these communities by initiating outreach projects. Active students benefit by gaining hands on skills in entrepreneurship, financial literacy, environmental sustainability and business ethics.  SIFE subscribes to the principle of empowerment, and the SIFE teams spend the academic year conducting outreach projects to make a sustainable difference to communities in need.


By Rob Cooper, a Payroll Tax Expert at Softline VIP

Rob Cooper

Rob Cooper

Bursaries and scholarships increase value for employers and employees by improving overall skills levels. The South African 2012-2013 Budget made changes to the legislation regarding the taxation of bursaries and scholarships. Bursaries are generally employer deductible and potentially tax free to an employee or their relative.

Bursaries granted by companies can be divided into two groups: Open bursaries are granted to individuals who are not company employees, and closed bursaries are granted to employees or relatives of employees. Open bursaries are not taxable and provide a positive way for companies to make a difference to South Africa’s skills shortage by providing the means for individuals who are not currently employed to gain qualifications and skills.

Closed bursaries, granted to individuals who are employees, or a relative of an employee, can be tax free, partially taxed or fully taxed depending on the bursary amount and the employee’s annual remuneration amount. A closed bursary granted to an employee is exempt from tax if the employee agrees to repay the bursary amount should he/she fail to complete or pass their studies for any reason other than death, illness or injury.

According to the legislation, closed bursaries granted to a relative of an employee are taxable if the employee’s remuneration exceeds R100 000 and if the bursary value exceeds R10 000. To explain:

  • If the employee earns less than R100 000 a year, and the bursary amount is R8 000, then the entire amount is exempt from tax.
  • If the bursary is worth R12 000, then R10 000 of that amount is exempt from taxation while the additional R 2 000 is taxable.
  • If the employee earns more than R100 000 annually, all bursaries or scholarships are taxable.

To calculate the R100 000 limit, the entire income amount must be used and must not be ‘fourth schedule remuneration’.  For example, the income must also include the employee’s full travel allowance.  If remuneration exceeds R100 000 after the bursary is paid, then the untaxed portion of the bursary must be taxed.

From March 2012, the exempt portion of the bursary amount needed to be reported against a new code 3815, and the taxable portion of the bursary as code 3809, which has been re-activated. This enables SARS to see the total value of the bursary on the employee’s tax certificate.

A bona fide bursary may include the costs of tuition fees, registration fees, examination fees, books, equipment required, accommodation, meals or meal vouchers and transport.

The South African legislation regarding the taxation of bursaries and scholarships supports local companies that want to make a positive impact on the South African skills shortage and decrease poverty levels by providing both employees and non-employees with opportunities to study and gain valuable skills. This is an avenue that companies should understand and pursue in order to maximise the impact of their tax deductible contributions.

Men in the Making

What is the initiative “Men in the Making”?

The Men in the Making initiative was launched on the 25th of March 2009 and immediately gained support and endorsement from the Department of Basic Education, for which we are eternally grateful. The Department saw this initiative to be in line with their Girl Education Movement (GEM) and  Boy Education Movement School programmes; the (BEM)in particular.

The concept was derived from the realisation that the boy‐child in South Africa is calling out or attention, help, recognition and acknowledgement as he grapples with the challenges of life and the suppression that he sometimes experiences as more and more focus and glamour is placed on girl children.

Softline Pastel Accounting supports “Men in the Making”- Pastel Accounting  hosted 11 boys from Parktown Boys’ High School as part of the Men in the Making initiative, sponsored by Tracker. Men in the Making strives to build and restore the confidence of male school learners in South Africa by developing their understanding of business in our country.

In the boy’s own words…

“Steven Cohen is the coolest MD I have ever met”,

” the Pastel Culture is amazing”

And the greatest quote from one of the boys was “I would love to work here one day”.

From these quotes you can clearly see from these men in the making, they truly enjoyed spending the day with us at Pastel.We would like to thank BEE123 for embracing the men in the making initiative and the Human Resource department for support this course.  

To view all the photos, visit our Facebook page – click here

Afrika Tikkun

Softline’s goal as a partner with Afrika Tikkun is that an investment in education today will empower the youth of our country to aspire towards uplifting themselves, as well as their broader communities, in the future.


Afrika Tikkun was founded in 1994.  Afrika Tikkun works in some of the most impoverished communities in South Africa to fulfil their mission of uplifting and empowering disadvantaged orphans and vulnerable children, thereby developing the communities and addressing the urgent need to alleviate poverty in the townships. Afrika Tikkun has become a leader in community development in South Africa.  Afrika Tikkun actively seeks partnerships with other NGO’s, government and the private sector, thereby optimizing their impact.