It has been a little over a year since you joined the SiGMA Foundation. How was the process for the entity to be formed and have a legal structure?
It’s actually been a year since the wheels to registration and rendering the SiGMA Foundation (https://www.sigma.com.mt/en/foundation/) as a legally recognized entity have been set in motion. We used this ‘hiatus’ for the bureaucracy and paperwork to be put in place. At last, we are out of the woods: legal entity, VO number on board and bank account green lighted. It was quite a gauntlet, frustrating at times, but yes, that’s done and dusted, so we could look ahead at this point.
What fund-raising activities were you able to carry out this year despite the pandemic?
Clearly, there were severe limitations. Much of the world was put on hold and our fund-raising platforms were no exceptions. Nonetheless, we still managed to get the subsistence and sponsorship for five schools in Ethiopia (€25,000). We must be grateful for that. The SiGMA Foundation also financed the setting up of the Jimma Disability rehabilitation program, where specialized staff was flown into Ethiopia’s secondary city to service and recondition prosthetic limbs and walking aids. We also assisted with the setting up of a COVID-19 testing hub during the crisis and orchestrated the ‘Sharing is caring’ campaign (https://www.sigma.com.mt/news/first-1500-worth-of-food-vouches-from-sharing-is-caring-campaign-distributed) with the country’s food vouchers for the needy.
Can you tell us a bit more about some traditional events of the Foundation, such as The Kilimanjaro Challenge, Saturday’s Malta Trails and similar initiatives?
‘The Kilimanjaro Challenge’ has a rich history, locally. It’s one of those calendar events within the world of adventure that locals and ex pats alike look out for, year after year. Almost 20 years in the making, it has helped to raise €1,000,000 for various kindergartens, schools and hospitals in Ethiopia and Kenya. Regarding ‘SiGMA Trails,’ they have really taken off and are looked upon by attendees as that time of the weekend where they can let their hair down and be one with nature. It’s rough and tough, but completely invigorating all ends up. Malta’s shoreline has much to offer and we do our utmost to exploit it through our treks. Assisting with mental and physical health is an important element on our agenda, and one which we embrace with vigor and passion.
What has been the response of companies and industry executives to SiGMA Foundation’s proposals so far? Why is it a key that companies have a defined CSR policy to help the communities in which they participate?
This sector’s generosity has yet to be tried and tested properly with regards to the SiGMA Foundation, simply because we are the new kid on the block. Remember, we needed to have all our paperwork in place before we could approach the market. But now, we can go full throttle. We loved the initiative taken by Hero Gaming, who sponsored the yearly subsistence of a school in Ethiopia. Imagine 200 kids, kept well, healthy and safe for a whole year for €5,000. How great is that? We have so many schools there that need assistance, so we will take the opportunity to plead with G&M News’ global readers out there to step up and do whatever is in their power to help. Every child deserves a chance. Most companies within the gaming world appear to treat their corporate social responsibility with care and with complete consciousness. For these guys, I remove my hat. I believe this world isn’t just about being successful and making money. If we are able to help people along the way, why shouldn’t we?
Why have you chosen Ethiopia and the Philippines as countries to develop solidarity projects and offer assistance? Which plans you have in your agenda for 2021?
I’ve had a love affair with Ethiopia for 20 years. It was introduced to me many moons ago by this very special man, a priest who has since passed on. We’ve inaugurated dozens of projects across this vast land: schools, kindergartens, water harvesting developments, hospitals, workshops, and the list goes on. It was only natural that we would keep fighting for the poor in ahead! With regards to the Phils, it was actually Eman Pulis’ (SiGMA Group founder) idea. He loves the land and its people, and asked if we were willing to stretch our efforts and offer assistance over there. We are actually plotting an expedition up Toubkal in Morocco (the highest mountain in North Africa) for April 2021. This adventure will happen together with the inauguration of a project we have in the pipeline for Marrakech, so that’s something really cool to look forward to. If circumstance is kind on us and lady luck shines brightly, we will also be organizing ‘El Camino de Santiago’ for next year too, which is a super cool experience. We actually had three planned for this year, but, unfortunately, plans had to be postponed.
How can any person in the gaming industry be proactive, make a positive change in the world and give a helping hand to someone in need?
The collective strength of kindness is immeasurable. It even doesn’t start or end within the gaming world, but clearly it would be a foothold we would appreciate and cherish. We can all be contributory in some way or another. Apathy is the devil’s playground. Every single reader out there has a choice: where to place his or her hat: empathy or disassociation? As I’ve said before, we have built many schools in Ethiopia that need subsistence. We could keep 150-200 kids in school, healthy, fed and happy for as little as €3,500 per year! Help us to help them. It’s their right and our duty as citizens of this world. So, if readers decide to donate, they should please contact Austin Cachia, Treasurer of the SiGMA Foundation, via email: email@example.com or phone: +356 7945 0880.