THE Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has contributed millions in funding and created over 1 500 jobs in the rural economy thereby uplifting black-owned farms.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
THE Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has contributed millions in funding and created over 1 500 jobs in the rural economy thereby uplifting black-owned farms.(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa’s agri-development initiative proving successful

By Edward West Time of article published Dec 23, 2021

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THE Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has contributed millions in funding and created over 1 500 jobs in the rural economy thereby uplifting black-owned farms.

Since the launch of Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa’s (CCBSA) Mintirho Foundation in 2018, the foundation said yesterday it had disbursed R343.2 million to support 26 beneficiaries that had created employment in rural communities.

It said over 1 540 new jobs had been created, with 57 percent of these employees being black women, who were often the backbone of these communities.

CCBSA managing director Velaphi Ratshefola said these achievements demonstrated that with targeted support, the private sector, including CCBSA could significantly contribute to the creation of a more transformed and inclusive agricultural sector.

“With the right support, women, youth, and black farmers can meaningfully participate in high-value agriculture and sophisticated value chains, both locally and internationally,” Ratshefola said.

The agriculture development fund had supported three agricultural support service enterprises and through its flexible funding and operational support, six of its beneficiaries having diversified their operations to also focus on producing high-income crops such as macadamia nuts, citrus, and pome fruit.

Amongst the beneficiaries, 10 were women-owned agricultural enterprises who received funding to the tune of R98.2m to support a wide range of their growth and expansion initiatives.

The foundation supports a wide range of black agricultural entrepreneurs, including sugarcane farmers.

Notwithstanding the challenges in South Africa’s sugar industry, CCBSA had been encouraged by the resilience and many success stories of the Trust’s sugarcane beneficiaries.

Ratshefola said in recent years, farmers, particularly black emerging farmers had faced significant obstacles and CCBSA sought to provide the necessary financial and technical support to ensure they not only remain in business, but were successful in the long term.

One beneficiary is Nirmala Juice, a woman-owned business that mass produces cold pressed juices. It was founded in 2015 by Motshabi Hlatshaneni in her kitchen. The company produces a range of preservative-free flavours for a growing number of retailers and smaller kiosks around the country. Hlatshaneni now employs six people, producing out of a manufacturing plant in Pretoria.

She said that they had been able to commission their own unique packaging, and now had a functioning e-commerce website with payment gateways.

“The invaluable assistance from Mintirho Foundation has gone beyond funding. The foundation helped us refine our business plan, and take our business to the next level, and ensure we consistently meet the high food safety standards needed to enable us to supply large retail outlets.”

The R400 million Trust administered through the Mintirho Foundation was formed in 2018 to support the development of historically disadvantaged farmers, as well as small suppliers in the agriculture and agri-business sector.

CCBSA Mintirho Foundation acting executive manager Goitseone Jonas said the majority of the beneficiaries were said to have seen their businesses grow significantly with the support of the foundation.

“One of our KwaZulu-Natal beneficiaries who grows sugarcane, vegetables and avocados has grown their business from a R12m operation just three years ago into a R39m business, and this is encouraging. It is not so much ability, but access to funding and ongoing support that’s critical,” Jonas said.

The core crops the beneficiaries produce include grapes, lemons, oranges, litchis, mangoes, peaches, apples, pears and guavas.

The funding has enabled the purchase of inputs, machinery, and other resources that have enhanced the competitiveness and profitability of the beneficiaries.

Mintirho Foundation Chairperson and Independent Trustee Thabi Nkosi said that agriculture was an important contributor to South Africa’s economy, but participation in the sector remained deeply unequal.

“As we look to the future, we take note of the many lessons learned in our journey over the past five years. We know how important it has been to provide support for the endeavours of previously disadvantaged farmers and individuals in this sector,” Nkosi said.

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