Because food security remains a major concern in South Africa, the Group channels its corporate social investment towards addressing societal underdevelopment that leads to hunger and poverty.
We are involved in a variety of community projects focusing on education, conservation and food security. To date, Pioneer Foods has distributed almost R11 million to beneficiaries. These projects, which focus on vulnerable groups such as women and children, receive 90% of the funds distributed by the Group. The remaining 10% is allocated to feeding schemes.
The Pioneer Foods Education and Community Trust (PFECT)
The activities of the Trust are mainly in three areas:
Mbekweni Youth Centre
In the previous financial year, we took it upon ourselves to develop a youth centre in Mbekweni township. Subsequently, we have completed 8.5 million rand’s worth of refurbishment and building extension. This money came out of the capital and operations expenditure allocated for 2015. The Centre was successfully launched on the 22nd July 2015.
The PFECT bursary programme continues to support students in the fields of accounting, engineering and marketing. In 2014, R1.4 million was allocated to 17 students. That number of students will increase to about 30 in 2015. For this cohort, employees’ family members are also invited to apply.
World Wildlife Fund South Africa (WWF SA)
Following the success of a three-year pilot programme with the Table Mountain Fund, in collaboration with the Western Cape government, our enterprise development and conservation model - People Working for their Environment - was established in February 2014 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole (NMBM) in the Eastern Cape.
This model aims to develop a sustainable small land management business in the peri-urban context of the NMBM, and provides natural resource management services to key conservation sites.
Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative (PSI)
The Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative’s (PSI) role is to recognise the greatest threat to the biodiversity and natural resources of South Africa’s Western Cape Boland area.
Primarily, this involves addressing the economic pressure facing farmers and land users of the mountaintops and surrounding areas. With that in mind, the PSI has continued to grow in capacity and now supports the land users’ protection of natural resources through the PSI National Resources Management (PSI NatReM) Land Users Incentive Scheme.
This initiative has created 90 sustainable jobs to fulfil its mandate and address the economic aspects of sustainability. The sale of woodchips to the Group’s relevant bakeries (as a coal replacement) has proven the most promising option to pursue and ensure that sustainable jobs are created.
Foodpods Kayamandi is a Women’s Development Programme based in Kayamandi township (Stellenbosch) that focuses on agriculture, food security and entrepreneurship.
Over the past year, the project has transformed an unused, inaccessible and arid piece of land at the Kayamandi High School into a large-scale agricultural hub. With the capacity to produce 76 800 vegetable bunches every year, making it the largest township-based, container-grown, agricultural hub in South Africa.
The initiative provides full-time employment to a group of horticulturalists and site keepers, as well as a number of female growers from the community. Plus, local and international interns and volunteers also contribute to the project, providing business and management support.
By investing in the Foodpods project, Pioneer Foods is helping local women to develop the skills and resources they need to provide their own food, in a model that can be replicated in under-resourced communities across South Africa.
Limani: Towards Food Security for Communities
Limani, the permaculture food gardening project implemented by Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), was launched in June 2012 at Shikhati Primary School near Tzaneen, in the Limpopo Province.
To date, the school has been developed into a resource centre for the area’s other educational facilities. And, as part of their training, these schools are encouraged and equipped to harvest rain water and use mulch to preserve soil moisture. Commercial earthworm farms have also been established to produce high-quality compost soil for vegetable gardens in the area, making it possible for all the schools involved to supplement their feeding programmes.
In 2013, the project received a R6.9 million grant from the European Union, and since then Pioneer Foods has agreed to match the funding needed to implement permaculture food gardens at an additional 57 schools. With garden infrastructure, solar cooking kits, and equipment also donated to and upgraded at all the participating schools.
The success of Limani has inspired many learners and other community members to start their own individual gardens across the province.
The African Children’s Feeding Scheme (ACFS)
With co-funding from Pioneer Foods, ACFS purchases milk to support thirteen feeding centres in Soweto, and the surrounding informal settlements. As part of the programme, the parents and guardians of the assisted children are empowered with the skills that should eventually make them independent and able to exit the programme.
About 31 000 children benefited from this support during 2014, and the following skills were provided to 1 200 direct beneficiaries during the year:
The organisation also runs school holiday programmes that focus on life-skills training, educational games and activities aimed at keeping children occupied and away from abusive home environments.
Stellenbosch Community Development Programme (SCDP)
The SCDP improves the state of nutrition and health in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. It provides more than 1 800 children (including 750 crèche children under the age of five) with a meal every school day and most school holidays. In doing so, it is actively combating malnutrition, preventing stunted growth and addressing obesity on a daily basis.
Many of our socioeconomic, as well as our enterprise development projects, are fundamentally structured to address job creation and employment in local and rural communities. Our contributions in these sectors endeavour to subsequently influence the development of the local economy, albeit on a smaller scale.
Pioneer Foods supports the SCDP by co-sponsoring at least one cup of milk per child in the programme every day, and also pays the salary of a Sustainable Livelihoods mentor.
In terms of enterprise development, the Group focuses on supporting businesses that operate in the food segment. Around R12 million was spent on supporting new projects in 2011, with an emphasis on operations in primary agriculture. A percentage of the beneficiaries supply products to the Groceries Division of Pioneer Foods.
Most of these investments are loans, rather than grants. For pragmatic reasons, we have decided to focus our investments in the Western Cape area.
Social Impact Assessment
To measure the affectivity of our CSIs, we commissioned an impact assessment in partnership with an external service provider during 2014. The aim was to identify areas where the Group’s contributions are making a significant impact, and where to provide more meaningful development opportunities.
The results showed that Pioneer Foods corporate giving equates to R33 874 951 - with a 72% project impact achievement.
10% of the total impact was assessed on enterprise development expenditure, the Pioneer Foods Education and Community Trust (PFECT) spend amounted to 4%, and SED spend amounted to 35% of our investments.
The implications of these findings will inform future decisions in this regard.
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