File picture: Mike Blake/Reuters

DURBAN - Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) Mintirho Foundation, has reached a significant milestone with R240 million in funding allocated to various projects aimed at developing farmers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. 

The Foundation provides funding in the form of grants, loans or equity as well as training to help identified farmers integrate into the CCBSA and broader agricultural value chains.

"Since the Foundation began its funding in 2018, we have committed R240 million to 25 projects around the country. The bulk of these are related to sugarcane growing, with the rest covering various fruits and vegetables, as well as fertiliser and logistics. Although it is still early days for us, we are delighted to say that we on track to create 1540 new jobs in the rural economy, where jobs are desperately needed," said Noxolo Kahlana – Head: Mintirho Foundation, CCBSA.

Kahlana added, "We are also delighted to report that 57 percent of beneficiaries employees are black women. This is important not only because rural women are greatly in need of upliftment, but because women invest in their families and communities significantly more than men, thus creating a beneficial ripple effect. Empowered women are catalysts for social transformation".

The Mintirho Foundation also recently entered into an innovative partnership with the South African Farmers’ Development Association (SAFDA) to help develop a fertiliser for emerging sugar-cane farmers in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, and to provide logistical support to help them get their product to mills timeously.

Two early success stories are Hya Matla and Nirmala. Hya Matla has developed technology to harvest the water hyacinth, which clogs many of the country’s dams and waterways, and turn it into a quality organic fertiliser. The Mintirho Foundation is providing working capital to help Hya Matla scale its business.

Nirmala (which is the Sanskrit word for “pure”) produces a range of cold-pressed, 100-percent fruit and vegetable juices. Funding from the Foundation has enabled the founder, Motshabi Mabena, to acquire new equipment and to employ four full-time staff members to operate it, thus giving him the capability to expand the business.

As this is Youth Month, it’s heartening to note that eight of Mintirho’s most successful beneficiaries are young entrepreneurs. Nirmala’s Mabena is part of the group, along with Mthombeni Farming Operations (apples and soya beans), Rocky Park (maize, potatoes and bean), Beyond 360 (high-value vegetables and fruit), Wela Boerdery (granadillas) as well as several sugar cane farmers (Bongi Mpumelelo, Uthandimvelo Trading and Nohari Farms).

"This is just the beginning for us. We are working hard to develop a strong pipeline of viable projects aimed at transforming the agricultural sector and our own supply chain," concluded Kahlana.

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