After 56 years, 10 000 hectares were returned to the Makhoba people and their dairy farming recommenced. In 1946, they were forcibly removed from their ancestral land. Today, they are the largest black-owned dairy supplier to Nestlé East and Southern African Region (ESAR).
A circular economy with Nestlé
In 2002, after a successful land claim, their 10 000 hectares of land were returned to the Makhoba people by President Thabo Mbeki - and the 7 000-strong community resettled on their land.
Through the assistance of organisations and the local farming community, the Makhoba community established a sizeable and successful dairy. Today, Springfontein Dairy is the largest black-owned dairy supplier to Nestlé ESAR, supplying about 4.5 million litres of milk per year. However, regardless of the success of the dairy, the farm is located in the remote area of Swartberg in KwaZulu-Natal, where the lack of education and work opportunities pose huge challenges to the community.
Inyosi Empowerment, as Nestlé ESAR’s enterprise and supplier development partner, believes the solution lies in partnership between the community and the private sector. In 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the YES (Youth Employment Service) initiative, with the aim to place unemployed youth in paid internships within South African companies. Nestlé jumped at the opportunity, and through its partnership with Inyosi Empowerment, almost 300 young people from the Makhoba community have completed the programme. In the YES programme, 300 youth have been trained to date, 50% of whom are women. Now in its fourth year, there are a further 100 youth in the programme. Thirty-five graduates are permanently employed on the Makhoba Farms as a direct result of the YES programme, while the balance of the 300 graduates have found jobs in the Swartberg community due to their enhanced skills and training. A select number of students are being mentored and coached under the tutelage of the current general manager of the dairy, as part of the dairy’s succession planning.
SAINC took a trip to Swartberg to document the inspiring story of how the partnership has grown to becoming an exemplary sustainable community development model. The initiative, called Makhoba Project, is a pilot project that brings to life Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value (CSV) approach by working within communities to realise enabled and empowered African livelihoods. This model integrates youth skills development, employment and employability, agripreneurship, regenerative agriculture, sustainability, and local sourcing.
Chief Ambrose Makhoba is the tribal leader of the Makhoba people. In 1946, the Makhoba people were forcibly removed from their land. They relocated to the mountainous area of Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, where they remained as subsistence farmers for the next 56 years. In 2002, after a successful land claim, their 10 000 hectares was returned to them by President Thabo Mbeki and the 7 000-strong community resettled on their land. The Makhoba community previously relied on subsistence farming until the intervention of Nestlé in 2008. The food producer worked together with Inyosi Empowerment, the community of Makhoba (led by Chief Ambrose Makhoba), and other entities in the farming and agriculture fraternity to develop the dairy farm into the slick technologically-advanced agricultural company that it is today. The farm started out with 150 cows and has flourished into a now 500-strong herd, becoming the largest black-owned dairy supplier to Nestlé.
Mnyamazeli Duma is a local from the Makhoba area. Living in a remote, rural area meant that opportunities for work were limited. His search led him to Springfontein Dairy. The area of Springfontein Dairy is inundated with Black Wattle trees. As an invasive species, they deplete water levels drastically. As part of the job creation initiative by Nestlé in partnership with Inyosi, they embarked on training workers to use chainsaws and chipping machines in order to eradicate the overflow of trees. Teams were set up to “chop and chip” - and by chance, they discovered that the extra-fine chips could be mixed with fodder and fed to the cows. They had inadvertently created a perfect and full-circle cycle of sustainable development. Duma is now the team leader of the Black Wattle project and hopes to one day own his own agriculture business, creating jobs and paying it forward. The second project also resulted in a food source, but this time for the invaluable livestock that keep the dairy farm flowing and producing.
Noncedo Mnganyama is a student of YES. In 2018, President Ramaphosa launched the YES (Youth Employment Service) initiative with the aim of placing unemployed youth in paid internships within South African companies. Nestlé jumped at the opportunity, and through its partnership with Inyosi Empowerment, almost 300 young people from the Makhoba community have completed the programme. Mnganyama is one such student, who now works full-time at the dairy. As a milker, besides earning money, she is learning new skills on the job, every day. She has developed a passion for dairy farming, saying that she does her work with love. She aspires to become a manager of her own dairy farm.