At ServiceNow, people are at the heart of everything we do — and one way we seek to make the lives of those around us better is through our partnerships with charity organisations, like Tjommie and Ndlovu Care Group.
When we last spoke to Tjommie mid-pandemic, we talked about the challenges they had faced on the ground in South Africa and how our Now at Work Hackathon helped create a workflow solution designed to give at-risk children and vulnerable communities a better outlook in life. Efficient processes and better resource management aimed to optimise the charity’s funds, improve disbursement of resources, and make sure those most at risk get the help they need, faster.
Eighteen months on — how has this plan turned into reality?
We caught up with Hugo Tempelman, CEO of the Ndlovu Group, and Inge Eijsenga, Board Member of the Tjommie Foundation to see where they are now.
From prototype to driving real change
Back in 2020, hackathon participants won over judges with a two-part proposal to the problems Tjommie faced: a quick-view status of initiatives on a reporting dashboard, and an offline app enabling field workers to update checklists, help travelling doctors know which patients to visit, track resources, and automatically upload that data whenever Wi-Fi became available.
Hearing of the proposal, FlyForm was keen to mobilise its ServiceNow teams in developing the proposed application and so a new partnership was born.
With ‘creating a positive impact’ one of the organisation’s key values, the FlyForm team was hugely motivated by the project, investing hundreds of hours of business and personal time into the Ndlovu application.
However, it wasn’t until the teams travelled onsite to Limpopo to implement and finesse the solution that they saw just how critical the tool was, and how significant its impact could be.
“Once restrictions were lifted, ServiceNow teams from Europe and in South Africa got to see our situation with their own eyes,” says Inge. “They were able to directly meet with the volunteers and doctors using it and see what a huge impact it made on their work. It completely changed the energy of the project.”
In the field, the teams found just how effective the app was. “It’s provided us with the means to provide more resources to local townships through better data collection and management,” says Inge. “It means we have better control over our information, which in turn, improves the quality of work as an NGO.”
“Making the world a better place is the core reason for our existence,” says Phil Davis, FlyForm co-founder and CEO. “I’m exceptionally proud of what has been delivered in this project, and of the way our people rallied behind it. There’s immense satisfaction in seeing the benefits of the application being realised on the ground and I’m excited about the ways in which we might use both our talent and the ServiceNow technology to further build on this impact in the future.”
Being on the ground with local teams also allowed the team to troubleshoot issues they may not have considered previously – especially given the lack of connectivity on the ground in rural Limpopo.
It was an especially humbling experience for one South African ServiceNow employee: “The people are so eager to learn, cooperative, and empathetic. It brought me to a new level of understanding of my country that I just didn’t have before.”
It’s not just the app alone that is driving change, however.
“Our relationship with ServiceNow, supported on the Ndlovu app by FlyForm, has enabled us to connect and speak out, get more people from the townships involved and influence them positively. It’s no longer about charity but intrinsic development,” says Hugo. And considering 63% of young people leave school unable to work in any trade, what it comes down to is providing a step up to those stigmatised by poverty.
“Day in and day out, we see so many people struggle to get past that stigma,” says Hugo. “They’re unable to get an education, healthcare, or discuss their mental health. Impossible becomes an attitude. But with the right support, people can start to break down that stigma of poverty down and see opportunities as rough diamonds – they just need a little polishing to reap the rewards.”
Inge agrees, “It’s of utmost importance that we reach those who need help. We have to realise that two thirds of the world’s population doesn’t live on our level, which is why expanding Tjommie’s capabilities is so critical to level the playing field.”
Tjommie’s range of other programmes helps to fill that gap – from after-school programmes, to netball and football clubs, and even a youth choir.
These programmes have already driven significant results. 627 children attending their after-school centres, and attendees have seen on average a 20% increase in their test results. Netball and football players have gone on to play at an international level, while the Ndlovu Youth Choir has found its own fame appearing on America’s Got Talent.
Other initiatives are seeing students go beyond basic schooling and learn new digital skills that put them on the path towards lucrative employment.
“After all, if you’re not digitally trained then you’re not prepared for the future world,” says Hugo. “But with our partnership with ServiceNow, we can get our students ready for the bright future they deserve.”
Looking toward the future
For Tjommie and Ndlovu, the hackathon back in 2020 was merely the launching pad for an app which, thanks to development partner FlyForm, is driving efficiency and optimisation across their activities – and thereby ensuring sufficient resources to drive its wealth of other initiatives on the ground in South Africa. The charity can now expand its reach much further, optimise processes and ensure those who need help the most, get it faster.
That means huge benefits for the communities it serves, who benefit from better access to social, cultural, and digital opportunities that will empower them to build better lives for themselves and their families.
And it holds massive promise for South Africa more widely, too. Initiatives like these help bridge the divide between the urban and rural, the privileged and underprivileged, and those who have digital skills and those who don’t. They enable businesses to identify, access, and train new sources of talent, giving them the talent they need – and employees the opportunities they deserve.
It’s a model that could work for many other charities and businesses, in many other countries, all over the world.
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