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Since the launch of Coca-Cola Beverages SA’s (CCBSA) Mintirho Foundation Trust, 26 beneficiaries in the agricultural sector have been supported, creating much-needed employment in rural communities.
The CCBSA Mintirho Foundation Trust was established in 2018 and its primary focus is the development of historically disadvantaged farmers and entrepreneurs in the agro-processing space through the funding of sustainable businesses.
The foundation has also backed three agricultural support service enterprises. Through its flexible funding instruments and operational support, six of its beneficiaries have successfully diversified their operations to focus on producing high-income crops such as macadamia nuts, citrus and pome fruit. A total of 10 women-owned agricultural enterprises have been assisted to support a wide range of growth and expansion initiatives.
In establishing the Mintirho Foundation Trust, CCBSA sought to contribute to the growth and transformation of SA’s agricultural sector.
CCBSA’s efforts to support the agricultural sector have included pioneering a comprehensive farmer-support model to address the specific challenges of emerging farmers and help them create thriving agricultural enterprises.
The foundation began funding projects aimed at developing farmers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds in 2018.
By June 2021 the foundation had successfully disbursed R334m out of a target of R340m in the form of grants, loans or equity as well as training to help identified farmers integrate both into CCBSA's and broader agricultural value chains.
“These achievements demonstrate that, with targeted support, corporate entities such as CCBSA can significantly contribute to the creation of a more transformed agricultural sector,” says Thabi Nkosi, chairperson of the Mintirho Foundation Trust.
With assistance and collaborative efforts including with government, “women, youth and black farmers can meaningfully participate in high-value agriculture and sophisticated value chains, both locally and internationally. Therefore, the creation of a conducive environment for emerging farmers to trade and thrive for their long-term sustainability becomes one of the most critical enablers in this regard.”
The bulk of the funding has been directed at sugar-cane agricultural operations as well as other fruit and vegetable farmers, agri-processors, fertiliser manufacturers and logistics providers, says Goitseone Jonas, CCBSA Mintirho Foundation acting executive manager. Funding has also been provided to the Citrus Growers Association’s Grower Development Company and the SA Cane Growers' Association for specific programmes benefiting small black farmers.
Sugar-cane farmers remain close to the foundation’s heart. “In recent years, these farmers have faced significant obstacles brought about by unfavourable climatic conditions and rising imports. Since the establishment of the Mintirho Foundation Trust, CCBSA has aimed to support black sugar cane farmers with the resources they need to increase the resilience and efficiency of their businesses,” he says.
The foundation sees itself as a partner rather than only a funder. In addition to providing long-term and risk capital, it also provides ongoing support to help farming businesses grow and become sustainable.
Most of the beneficiaries' businesses have grown significantly with the support of the foundation. “One of our KwaZulu-Natal beneficiaries who grows sugar cane, vegetables and avocados has grown their business from a R12m operation, just three years ago, into a R39m operation, and this is quite encouraging. It is not so much lack of ability, but access to funding and ongoing support that’s critical,” says Jonas.
As the foundation looks to the future it will be using lessons learnt and building on engagements with beneficiaries and other stakeholders.
This article was paid for by Coca-Cola Beverages SA.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.