Women lead this year’s CEO SleepOut


This year, the annual CEO SleepOut urges women leaders to take part in its one night in the cold event. Each participant must pledge R100,000 that will go to beneficiaries of the initiative.

ceo sleepout SheECO sleepout
The SheEO SleepOut, a part of the CEO SleepOut, is hosted this year at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. This year the focus is to bring South Africa’s influential women together to grow empathy for vulnerable communities and to celebrate each other’s commitment to change. (Image supplied)

Brand South Africa reporter
South Africa’s CEO SleepOut initiative this year focuses on female leaders and calls on women in executive committees to spend a night outdoors on 22 June 2017.

The CEO SleepOut is part of a global movement for positive social change. Founded in Australia in 2006, it is now a global event, with SleepOuts taking place in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the UK.

This global movement aims to effect positive social change for vulnerable and homeless communities. The initiative asks business leaders to spend a winter’s night on the streets, raising funds and increasing empathy for the homeless.

The South African SleepOut

The founding partner of the CEO SleepOut in South Africa is The Philanthropic Collection, and the inaugural event in the country took place in 2015 when 247 chief executive officers and senior company executives spent the night on Gwen Lane, Sandton. More than R26-million for the childcare organisation, Girls & Boys Town, was raised.

The following year, 672 current and future business leaders spent the night on the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg City.

There was also a national call to action, #SouthAfricaMustRise. Companies, universities and schools were able to host a SleepOut in solidarity on their own Sympathy, Student and School SleepOut events, collecting items for the chosen beneficiary.

Donations were given to primary beneficiary partners, namely The Asha Trust, Columba Leadership and The Steve Biko Foundation.

In the past two years, more than R35-million has been donated to the beneficiary partners of the South Africa CEO SleepOut, representing 73% of the project’s income revenue.

This year’s CEO SleepOut is seen as “a special chapter” and is called the SheEO SleepOut, because of its focus on female leaders. The aim is for 250 female chief executive officers or women on executive committees to participate in the event, taking place at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Those companies who do not have female leaders can nominate another woman, but must also pledge a donation towards fundraising for the beneficiary. To participate in SheEO SleepOut, each registered person or company should pledge R100,000.

The funds raised at the SheEO SleepOut will be awarded to this year’s primary beneficiary, Door of Hope. This organisation works in the area of this year’s focus pillar: shelter, especially for abandoned babies and children.

The secondary beneficiaries benefit from the affiliated brands and projects. The secondary beneficiaries this year are Homeless Talk, the street newspaper; The Salvation Army; and Gift of the Givers.

Funeral donation

The CEO SleepOut initiative had its media launch on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

Among the guests were Prof Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, former justice at the Constitutional Court; Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng’s MEC for education; entrepreneur and radio host Brent Lindique, who is also known as The Good Things Guy; and Leanne Manas, the SABC anchor.

Yusuf Abramjee, social activist and chief ambassador of the CEO SleepOut, said the initiative had donated R50,000 towards the funeral costs of the victims of the taxi accident outside Bronkhorstspruit on 21 April 2017, in which 18 children and two adults died.

Speaking at the launch of the School SleepOut 2017 in Johannesburg, Lesufi said the donation would help with funeral costs and “we are grateful”. A moment of silence was observed to remember the dead.

People tweeted their thoughts about the SleepOut:

Take part

June 2017 has also been declared SleepOut month in South Africa. For the satellite solidarity events – the Sympathy, South Africa and School SleepOuts – businesses, groups and schools spend any night during June 2017 outdoors, collecting items for satellite beneficiaries across the nine provinces.

For the School SleepOuts, 13 learners have been chosen countrywide to be school ambassadors of the initiative. They share the message of change and encourage schools to take part.

Companies can also host a SleepOut at their premises on any day during June 2017. They can register for the Sympathy SleepOut. Last year, 65 schools and 44 companies participated.

Thirdly, this year the South Africa SleepOut was introduced. This is for any group of South Africans — such as running clubs, book clubs, family and friends — can spend a night outdoors anywhere.

All these events are to collect items for the beneficiaries. The list of items to collect and donate to the beneficiaries is found on the website.

Anyone who wants to participate can register on the site.

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