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In a country grappling with complexity, an ever-changing landscape and socioeconomic inequalities, the alignment of business and community interests isn’t just a catalyst for progress but also a shared responsibility. Genuine partnerships between communities and businesses can build a better tomorrow for all.

SA, with its challenges of high unemployment and economic inequality, offers businesses the real opportunity to make a difference. By sourcing locally, investing in job creation and skills development and offering entrepreneurship support programmes, businesses can be the catalyst for positive change. They have the power to uplift communities in their value chain, stimulate inclusive economic growth, and pave the way for a brighter future for all.

Community engagement ought not be a mere corporate responsibility exercise but a necessity. By participating in community development initiatives, businesses can earn their social licence to operate and build stronger ties with local stakeholders. This engagement also fuels innovation as businesses gain insights into the needs and aspirations of communities, driving the development of locally relevant products and services. Furthermore, by prioritising local procurement and supply chain integration, businesses can strengthen the domestic economy and create sustainable livelihoods across the country.

By bringing together government agencies, civil society organisations, and community leaders, businesses can leverage collective expertise and resources to address pressing social challenges, all while driving business growth. From combating poverty and hunger to promoting access to education and health care, collaborative problem-solving initiatives are keys to unlocking transformation and building resilient communities.

In SA’s agricultural sector, Moletele Corona Limes offers a vivid illustration of transformative potential. The initiative, forged out of a common challenge and vision, harnessed the efforts of SA Breweries (SAB), the Moletele Community and the Komati Fruit Group to deliver an innovative means of delivering seasonal limes all year round. Moletele Corona Limes transcends conventional business paradigms, placing emphasis on economic empowerment, community development, sustainable environmental practices and consistent growth.

Responsible business

Through collaboration and a dedication to creating shared value, the initiative has not only uplifted emerging farmers and bolstered economic resilience but has also acted as a stimulant for comprehensive community advancement. By embracing sustainability principles and upholding responsible business practices, Moletele Corona Limes exemplifies how businesses can be agents of positive change, propelling economic empowerment and community development.

To drive meaningful change and ensure accountability in these partnerships, businesses and their partners must establish clear metrics for measuring impact. By tracking performance and conducting regular assessments, businesses can demonstrate the tangible benefits of these initiatives and identify areas for improvement. Moreover, transparent reporting and stakeholder engagement processes are crucial critical for fostering mutual trust and strengthening the bonds between businesses and communities.

Our journey with Moletele Corona Limes is a compelling case study for businesses seeking to forge real connections with local communities. By prioritising purpose-driven partnerships, inclusive economic development, and long-term sustainability, we can hit the triple bottom line.

As SA navigates the complexities of economic recovery and social progress, the imperative for collaboration between business and community has never been greater. By harnessing the power of collective action and embracing shared goals, businesses can play a vital role in shaping a more inclusive, resilient, and prosperous future for all.

Together, let us seize the opportunity to build a brighter tomorrow, where business and community thrive in harmony, united by a common vision of shared prosperity.

• Lisa is vice-president: corporate affairs at SAB.

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