More than a tea party
LAST FRIDAY I was meant to be on a bus heading for Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape. I looked forward to the trip, having never been to Flagstaff before and because it was to mark a plan by brand company AVI to inject money into women’s rural development.
But the deadly flu literally gripped me by the throat and I couldn’t make the trip. It was a pity, because I hear Flagstaff, well, encapsulates in its unique way what a small town is like in rural South Africa. Not pretty, apparently, but with its own distinct charm.
I was also keen on what AVI – using its brand Trinco Tea as the cup for the sponsorship – was trying to do. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests it’s the women in rural areas who get things done. Still, I followed up and was encouraged to learn more about this example of corporate social investment.
AVI has invested R1,2m in the Women’s Development Bank ( WDB) as part of the project. It may not sound like a lot but R1,2m goes a long way – if properly channelled – in an area such as Bizana in the Eastern Cape.
The WDB is a micro-finance organisa- tion that targets women in rural communities. It’s not, I’m assured, like the loan shark down the road. The Flagstaff project, where a new branch of the WDB has been opened, will provide women in the area with micro loans and training, encompassing how to run a business, business support and mentorship and encourage them to open savings accounts. The aim is to help the women increase their household income and promote economic development in the region.
Why Trinco Tea? AVI says the brand’s typical consumer “is a motivated, hardworking, sensible and loving mom. She’s a role model to other women in the community and values her cultural heritage.”
Wow, I wonder what sort of research AVI had to conduct to find that out about Trinco Tea drinkers? Men don’t appear to be part of Trinco’s very positive culture. That’s okay: I’ve been to enough Mad Hatter’s tea parties to try and avoid the substance completely.
It’s probably all PR spin. But AVI’s money is real, its intentions are good and seem well thought through. If it works for the women of Flagstaff, it works for me.