STRONGER TOGETHER: GIFT OF THE GIVERS & CAPITEC GIVE BACK
Meet Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers – a foundation committed to serving others. Partnering with Capitec Bank, the two are able to provide hope, add value, and make a positive impact on communities in need.
In 1992, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman had a life-changing experience in Istanbul, Turkey that redirected his life and many others forever. Imtiaz received a message from his spiritual teacher to live a life of service. Today, he is a remarkable humanitarian and family man. Having received countless accolades of the highest order, Imtiaz remains deeply committed to his faith and lives a life of humility.
Imtiaz shares the divine origins of the Gift of the Givers, saying, “My spiritual teacher looked me in the eye and in fluent Turkish said, ‘My son, I’m not asking you – I’m instructing you – form an organisation. The name will be Waqful Waqifin (Arabic for Gift of the Givers). It will serve all people, of all races, religions, colours, cultures, and classes, of any geographical location and of any political affiliation. You will serve them unconditionally and you will not expect anything in return. This is an instruction for you for the rest of your life’.”
Gift of the Givers is now the largest disaster response agency of African origin on the African continent. The organisation provides disaster intervention resources such as blankets, food, medicine, and tents. In addition to that, Gift of the Givers has a dedicated volunteer team who can assist no matter where a disaster may strike.
“We have our operations running in South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and Palestine,” explains Imtiaz’s son, Muhammad Sooliman, who has been inspired by his father’s work and continues the legacy of selfless service. He shares, “I grew up in this organisation so I’ve seen my father’s dream and what he’s been trying to do. Growing up around that, I’ve just always known I wanted to be a part of it.”
Imtiaz, Muhammed, and their staff of over 90 dedicated team members work tirelessly to provide aid. While every disaster is unique and comes with its own challenges, Mohammed shares, “Over the last 28 years, we’ve developed the experience, partnerships, and support to be able to respond to these type of disasters.”
One of these partnerships is with Capitec – a bank which goes above and beyond to make a positive impact on the communities who need it most. When Covid-19 hit, Capitec was the first bank to lend a helping hand to Gift of the Givers to ensure South Africa was protected, safe, and fed.
Imtiaz explains, “Covid-19 has been our biggest project ever. We’ve been working 20 hours a day from the 15th of March up until today and there’s no end in sight. But, companies like Capitec immediately came to help when Covid-19 started. They were prepared to support with PPE, high-flow oxygen machines, tents, testing kits, and testing machines. Later on, as the months went by, we told Capitec, ‘People are hungry.’ In response, Capitec sent out food parcels. Capitec’s contribution has been phenomenal.”
Imitaz strongly believes that when the private sector, government, and civil society come together, the combined strength and energy can dramatically change lives. Imitaz shares, “As a company, Capitec has proven this.” He adds, “When the country is so affected economically, we need these kinds of partnerships and to work together for one purpose only: for the people who are vulnerable in South Africa and who can’t help themselves.”
Gift of the Givers contribution to places like Umsilings Primary School prove how an act of kindness can have a ripple effect on an entire community. With the supply of fresh water, children can now stay in school for the entire day. Principal, Shovashni Issa explains, “Now children are at school for the required hours and teaching and learning has improved tremendously. I want to express my gratitude to Gift of the Givers and all partners that were involved in helping us.”
Imtiaz shares his call to action with South Africa, saying, “Let’s hold hands together, look after our neighbour, and help each other to benefit the country together.”