UNILEVER South East Africa (Sea), through an educational support programme which aims to strengthen educational institutions, has donated $4 million worth of scholarships to
10 students from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).
The 10 recipients of the Unilever scholarships are from rural and suburban families, who have been seen to excel academically but are limited from reaching their fullest academic potential owing to serious financial constraints.
Unilever is working to support training and manpower development at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary hence the rationale behind the continuation and expansion of this ongoing educational programme since 2001.
To date, Unilever has dedicated $150 million worth of scholarships to a total of 30 students including the 10 recipients over the three years, to support them through their study period at their respective universities.
The scholarships have been designed to incorporate tuition fees and living allowances including books, accommodation, transport and food so that they can undertake their academic studies without incurring too many additional costs out of their pockets.
Unilever has offered these chosen students, scholarships in various business disciplines including marketing, business studies, bio-chemistry, psychology, accountancy and engineering, which broaden the scope of their experience and knowledge for the future development of industry and commerce.
Also as part of their educational support programme, Unilever pro-vides an industrial attachment programme, offering participants a realistic insight into the workings of industry so that on completion of their studies they are better prepared for challenges, which come hand in hand with industry.
Besides the guaranteed opportunity for attachment that Unilever grants these selected students, the company has also taken responsibility of seeing its attaches through their entire training period by providing them with appropriate allowances.
This year five former recipients of the Unilever scholarship are attached at the company in the departments of information technology, engineering, accounting and marketing.
Two of them were present at the awards presentation and gave testimonies on how the scholarship had benefited them.
Chairman Malcolm Hughes said Unilever recognised the vital role that education plays towards national development.
“Knowledge is the only instrument of production that is not subject to diminishing returns,” he said.
“For this special reason, our company believes that when we give students access to knowledge, this in turn, cultivates business partnership that contributes to national economic growth and development.”
He said as a result of the close working relationship with their attaches, Unilever had become increasingly aware of the fact that some of the selected students had a limited appreciation of many of the aspects of commerce and industry.
He said the company had thus introduced an interview skills work-shop for both universities to help the students and give the confidence on the road towards career development.
Hughes said for the chosen students, the Unilever scholarship had marked a positive difference to their lives and future from which they would derive confidence and happiness as well as the ability to develop the nation, thus creating wealth for the nation.
Unilever is the former Lever Brothers (Pvt) Ltd. The company has invested $14 billion in Zimbabwe.
A senior company official said the major investment was a clear sign that the international grouping was confident that the business climate in Zimbabwe “was still promising despite the current problems”.