Transforming Poverty into Sustainable Prosperity through Agri-business and Agro-processing

Guest port by Dave Wreford, Hermanus Rainbow Trust

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“An innovative solution to a complex problem”.

Like in many regions around the world, Poverty is the scourge that’s destroying our disadvantaged communities in the Overstrand region of the Western Cape – South Africa. It is important that we utilize every available resource to eliminate Poverty, which is the cause of broken families, malnutrition, hunger, child mortality, crime and the lack of “early childhood development” and education for our children.

The Challenges of Living in an Impoverished Community.

Imagine living in a community where about 80,000 people live under terrible conditions, with 50,000 living in small shacks with no fresh water, electricity or sewerage available in the shacks. The unemployment levels are very high (71%) and the literacy levels low, with 59% earning less than R1,200 per month ($110) and 4% not having any form of income at all. It is estimated that 45% are “infected” with HIV, but the reality is that virtually every family is “affected” by HIV in one way or another. Tragically this is further aggravated by widespread crime, gangs, drugs, violence, rape, teenage pregnancies, spread of HIV, neglect and the abuse of women and children.

These devastating conditions have resulted in the breakdown of society and family structures causing single parent families and “child-headed” households with hundreds of orphans, vulnerable children and disadvantaged families. Many of the people have been forced to join gangs and resort to crime to survive the ravages of poverty and inequality.

“Community and Social Development”

The Hermanus Rainbow Trust was founded as a non-profit organisation in 1999. Since then the Trust has been providing community and social development; services and support to hundreds of orphans vulnerable children and disadvantaged families affected by HIV and poverty. These services have been funded through “grant funding” from government, business and private individuals. Unfortunately over the last few years the recession has resulted in a significant reduction in “grant funding”.

“Wake up Call”

This seriously impacted the delivery of services and support and prompted the Board of Trustees to develop an innovative “sustainability strategy”. The strategy is based on the establishment of a “Social Enterprise”with commercial business activities, whose surplus revenue (profits) will fund and grow the existing “social purpose programmes”.

The Dawn of a New Era

The “Social Enterprise” has established a number of small revenue generating pilot projects over the last year while researching and developing an innovative long term sustainable solution to the complex problem of “Poverty”.

The Agri-business Solution

Agri-business and Agro-processing solution focuses on 5 integrated initiatives that provide training, skills development and mentoring, the creation of business opportunities and jobs, and the production of unique functional foods and nutraceuticals. These initiatives will go a long way to eliminate poverty in our communities.

  • - The Agri-business Training College, Training Farm andNursery
  • – The “Business Development Services” and “Supply Chain Management” Incubator
  • – The Agri-business Co-operative and Production Farm
  • – The Agro-processing Centre with 4 commercial “FunctionalFoods” and “Nutraceutical” production lines
  • – The “Rainbow of Hope” Shop and Tourist Centre.

Social Impact Benefits

The mission is to rebuild the family structures, enabling children to develop fully and become future leaders, while enabling the family members to participate in the various poverty alleviation business activities.

The current programmes that incorporate over 1,000 people, include:

  • – Parenting Worx; providing comprehensive parenting, life’s kills and “early childhood development”.
  • – Children’s Circle of Support; provides psycho-social support to orphans, vulnerable children and child headed households
  • – Sponsor a Child; provides support and enables disadvantaged children access to education
  • – Special Support Groups; Support and counseling for adults and children with terminal and chronic diseases (mainly HIV/AIDS)
  • – Grade R Edu-care Centers; providing formal Grade Reduction as a foundation to primary school education.

Financial Requirements

The total financial requirements for the 3 year roll out of the “Social Enterprise” commercial Agri-business projects, including all of the infrastructure, facilities, equipment, vehicles, systems and operational costs through to break even, is $4.3 million (£2.6 m, € 3.12 m, R47.0 m), for the 5 integrated businesses. The “Social Enterprise” is looking to establish a balanced funding portfolio. This will consider a combination of sub-market debt and equity from Social Impact Investors, Corporate Social Investment, Corporate Enterprise Development, Foundation grants, Venture philanthropists, and Social VC funder.

About Dave Wreford: Dave Wreford is the General Manager / Administrator of the Trust. Dave is a social entrepreneur, visionary and strategist, with over 15 years; experience in community and social development programmes and Agri-business and Agro-processing projects. Dave has expertise in natural medicine, health and wellness, “Functional Foods” and”Nutraceuticals”, with over 10 years; experience with Moringa growing and production. Worked for IBM, both locally and internationally for 27 years, the last 10 years in senior management positions.

Photo credit: All pictures have been taken by staff members of the Trust and belong to the Trust.

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