tak­ing hands – work­ing to­gether

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Business Owners’ Checklist -

Plough­ing back into com­mu­ni­ties

There’s a say­ing that the fu­ture is carved out of the present mo­ment and that to­mor­row’s har­vest de­pends on to­day’s plough­ing and sow­ing. This is a key pil­lar at Mon­santo South Africa.

Mon­santo is a lead­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture com­pany that is fo­cused on em­pow­er­ing famers with smart so­lu­tions to yield a bet­ter har­vest while us­ing re­sources more ef­fi­ciently. Beyond sup­port­ing farm­ers the com­pany is com­mit­ted to in­vest­ing in the wel­fare of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

In 2018, the Mon­santo part­nered with mem­bers of Bon­nievale, a small town in the Western Cape, to open a school to cater for the com­mu­nity.

The re­al­ity of hav­ing only one high school to feed the com­mu­nity, with an aca­demic cur­ricu­lum and lim­ited space of ac­cep­tance, left hun­dreds of Bon­nievale-chil­dren with­out hope for a bet­ter fu­ture.

In Jan­uary the Jakes Ger­wel En­tre­pre­neur­ial and Tech­ni­cal School opened its doors to 240 grade 8 and 9 learn­ers. The school is a part­ner­ship be­tween the provin­cial ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment and the Jakes Ger­wel En­trepreneur­ship School Fund­ing Trust – the for­mer con­tribut­ing 40% of the costs and the lat­ter 60%.

Phillip Jonker, Wil­helm de Wet and Cur­ren Kuhn from Wel­tevrede, donated twelve hectares on which to build the school and signed 99-year rent free lease agree­ment to sup­port the cause. Môre­son Grond­ver­skui­w­ers did the land prepa­ra­tion and of­fered the use of their ma­chines and oper­a­tors at no costs.

Mon­santo, through its Im­bewu pro­gramme, donated R2 mil­lion to es­tab­lish a state-of-the-art agri­cul­tural fa­cil­ity at the school. Im­bewu is the Zulu word for a seed and through this gen­er­ous do­na­tion, Im­bewu is seed­ing growth and the po­ten­tial for this com­mu­nity’s young peo­ple to be­come and do bet­ter.

The cur­ricu­lum for grades 8 and 9 is ex­actly the same as any other main­stream school but even­tu­ally, learn­ers will have the op­por­tu­nity to choose be­tween fol­low­ing the aca­demic stream (NQF4 ma­tric), tech­ni­cal stream (NQF4 ma­tric) or the ca­reer-ori­en­tated ar­ti­san stream (NQF).

By tak­ing hands and work­ing to­gether, the com­mu­nity and busi­ness made it pos­si­ble to re­al­ize this amaz­ing vi­sion of hope. Hope that will ul­ti­mately bring about a new iden­tity and the fu­ture ori­en­tated young peo­ple South Africa so des­per­ately needs.

In­vest­ing in youth is like plant­ing a seed

In­vest­ing in youth is like plant­ing a seed which will grow into a tree that will ben­e­fit the whole so­ci­ety. That is how Kobus Steenekamp, Busi­ness and Com­mer­cial Manager of Mon­santo South Africa, ex­plains why this fore­most seed de­vel­op­ment com­pany is so heav­ily in­vested in the youth of the coun­try.

Mon­santo has a youth de­vel­op­ment thrust which in­cludes bur­saries, in­tern­ships, learn­er­ship pro­grammes, as­sis­tance for stu­dents who want to at­tend agri­cul­tural con­gresses, boosts in­ter­est in biotech­nol­ogy at schools and uni­ver­si­ties, spon­sors agri­cul­tural clubs at uni­ver­si­ties, as­sists with the build­ing of bath­rooms at schools and main­tain­ing of school busses. And much more.

Madelein du Plessis, Mon­santo HR Manager, has a “great sense of ful­fil­ment” when she is able to help with bur­saries and link these with in­tern­ships “to en­able prepa­ra­tion for the world of work and see the suc­cesses they can achieve”.

There are two other ma­jor ven­tures that Mon­santo is closely con­nected with – the Buhle Farm­ers’ Academy (BFA) and a high school in Bon­nievale in the Western Cape. (See ar­ti­cle on the left.)

The BFA trains new and as­pir­ing farm­ers from across South Africa to run prof­itable and sus­tain­able busi­nesses by ex­pos­ing them to tech­ni­cal, pro­duc­tion, man­age­rial, fi­nan­cial and mar­ket­ing skills. Mon­santo has been in­volved since 2 000, in­ter alia, by do­nat­ing a re­search farm to start the cam­pus on.

It is also in­volved with Khulisa So­cial So­lu­tions. Here Mon­santo has sup­ported a scheme which aims to em­power 120 post-ma­tric girls by putting them through pro­grammes fo­cus­ing on per­sonal de­vel­op­ment, IT knowl­edge, health, fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy and agri­cul­ture. Of these 28 en­tered BFA in 2017. At the end of their stud­ies they will have set up co­op­er­a­tives from which they can run busi­nesses.

As CEO Steenekamp says: “We in­vest in the youth of to­day, to en­sure the fu­ture, not only of this gen­er­a­tion but of gen­er­a­tions to come.

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