In what has been proclaimed the coldest night of the year, South Africa’s top business leaders are spending the night in the heart of Sandton to create awareness for the homeless.
The 702 Sun International CEO Sleepout is underway with over 200 CEO’s huddled along Gwen Lane equipped with blankets, soup and sleeping bags to brave the cold.
The targeted R25 million raised will go towards Girls & Boys Town, a South African NGO which serves an average of 34,416 homeless youth every year.
As corporate executives crowd around fires and set up their sleeping bags on the streets of Africa’s richest square mile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said he was excited to be part of the initiative that raises funds for an issue that will empower the youth.
“Getting kids out of the street to help give them a meaningful and productive life, that’s a very important intervention. What are we doing here will never be close to the experience that street children go through. They live in dangerous places where they are very vulnerable. The critical focus is to help get them out of those circumstances,” he said.
From Europcar-labelled hot water bottles to Virgin Atlantic-branded sleeping bags and Vodacom cellphone charging stations, the event is fully branded and has been a powerful networking platform.
CEO of Vodacom, Shameel Joosub said the focus of the initiative was raising money while creating awareness.
“The plight of the homeless is an important issue for the country and it’s a really good initiative and I think it raises a lot of awareness and provides an opportunity so that everyone here can give back to society,” said Joosub.
“This type of event is to make people more sensitive to what’s going on. I don’t think for one minute that it replaces the real experience of what goes on in the street.”