VENTURES AFRICA  – As part of its corporate social investment policy, British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa, has pledged its support to Grootbos Foundation‘s “Growing the Future Food Production and Life Skills Training”, a programme that empowers previously disadvantaged young women between the ages of 20 and 35 from the surrounding communities of Stanford and Gansbaai.

Grootbos foundation is the non-profit arm of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, an eco-tourism destination in the Walker Bay region of the Southern Cape committed to the conservation of biodiversity and the upliftment of local communities. It was established in 2003 to facilitate the environmental and social development practices of the nature reserve.

The Grootbos Foundation’s “Growing the Future Food Production and Life Skills Training” programme trains eight women annually on how to grow organic fruit and vegetables, using organic agriculture techniques, bee-keeping as well as the basic principles of successful animal husbandry. Secondary produce from the surplus fruit and vegetables such as jams; pickles and chutney are also made and then sold at a profit. The programme exposes the trained women to basic business success principles.

Apart from this, the programme also has the objective to provide food security and promote sustainable livelihoods amongst marginalised women through training and skills development in the areas of vegetable growing, food production and life skills.

According to BAT SA, the foundation was chosen due to the positive impact the Foundation has on its surrounding communities.

“We felt that the Growing the Future training programme was a perfect fit for us as it not only addresses the country’s agenda regarding food security, but also empowers women. Most of these women are from the rural areas and have come to the Western Cape in pursuit of job opportunities. It is envisaged that they will impart the skills acquired from this programme and go on to help empower their broader communities,” says Itumeleng Langeni, head of Corporate Communication at BAT South Africa.

Commenting on the new partnership, Grootbos Foundation Director, Sean Privet, said: “We are very grateful to BAT South Africa for supporting our foundation. Due to their support we have been able to acquire much needed additional specialist staff and are currently compiling a new and improved training programme for the women.”

BAT SA is one of South Africa’s Best Employers certified companies for 2012/13. The honour was given to the company as a result of its outstanding working conditions.

BAT SA corporate social investment policy focuses on four areas that they believe address South Africa’s key economic and social issues, namely sustainable agriculture, empowerment, civic life, and HIV/Aids. The motivation for focusing on these priority areas is to support sustainability, economic growth, skills development and education for the most vulnerable people of South Africa.


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