The rising need of food security, economic diversification and greening of the economy offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs to find a solution.
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Agriculture’s biggest challenge is to feed 9 billion people globally by 2050. Despite recent progress, close to 800 million people still suffer from chronic undernourishment. These scary facts bring to mind the high unemployment rate of women and youth in rural South Africa.
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Social enterprises – The perfect vehicle
Social enterprises present a perfect vehicle to address the above solution. South Africa’s economic and social landscape provides us with the following thought provoking [i] statistics:
- Women re-invest up to 90% of their income in their families and communities.
- 72% of women in villages and towns have limited/no access to entrepreneurial services, credit and markets.
- 25% black women, compared to 19% black men, have difficulty in using technology associated with banking products/services.
- 43% of South Africans live on less than R30 per day.
- Women are disadvantaged by their lower level of financial literacy and awareness.
- SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) account for 56% of private sector employment.
- The failure rate of SMEs in SA is among the highest in the world at 75%.
The conclusion of the above statistics is that women and youth in rural SA face the following barriers – access to business opportunities and markets, business skills training, financial services and peer networks.
Private investment – An imperative
It is clear from the above that private investment in agriculture and rural areas is crucial. One has to unpack sustainable solutions and identify stakeholders needed.
In seeking sustainable solutions we must:
- Identify the challenge
- Identify relevant partners
- Identify viable solutions
- Cost the solutions
- Communicate the impact.
We must identify stakeholders/potential partners as:
- Direct owners
- Indirect owners
- Challenge solvers
- Challenge sponsors.
The good news is that we have plenty potential partners. Two local International Labour Organisation (ILO) initiatives include:
1. The Free State SME Development Project
This project successfully engaged with 5 595 students on theStartUp-&-Goentrepreneurship education programme.
2. The Kwa-Zulu Natal Public Procurement and Social Economy (PPSE) Programme
This programme trained 129 supply chain officials on social enterprises and co-operatives - creating a more conducive enabling environment. Altogether 66 trainers have trained 3 631 people on improving their businesses.
One Acre Fund – The perfect case study
The One Acre Fund in East Africa is a perfect example of a successful agriculture social enterprise. This enterprise invests in rural farmers by supplying seeds, fertiliser, financing, training and market facilitation. They aim to generate a sustainable income among farmers so that they can grow their way out of poverty.
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“Measuring impact is a key focus a One Acre Fund. On average, farmers working with us realise a 100% return on their investment – roughly double the income on every planted acre. We attribute this impact to the comprehensiveness of our model and our ability to distribute products and services within walking distance of the smallholder farmers we serve. It’s growing quickly – we hope to serve one million farmers by 2020 and more thereafter,” said Jenny Best, One Acre Fund spokesperson.
“When you educate a woman, you educate an entire generation.” Nelson Mandela.
[i] Studies conducted by IFC (International Finance Corporation), ILO (International Labour Organisation) and Statistics South Africa