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Stefano Maiorana's Fundraiser:

ExpeditionKei: The Eluphindweni Community Project

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BENEFITING:

Stefano Maiorana

THE STORY:

The Eluphindweni Community in South Africa and its surrounding rural communities along the Kei River, live in poverty stricken communities with no or little basic infrastructural services such as running water, sanitation and health care. The areas also have virtually no subsistence agriculture due to the low value and quality of the local environment which has become severely degraded through over-grazing and inappropriate agricultural activity over many years. Local assets such as water, land and labour are unable to be elevated and exploited for public good because of no entrepreneurial activity, no investment and poor infrastructure.

The community consists of +-260 old men and women, and approximately 200 children. Employment has to be sought far from home, as there are very few employment opportunities within a 200km radius of the community. A lack of business investment in the area means that the middle aged men and women have to migrate to the large urban centers for employment. This affects the local demographics in the area as elderly men and women have to look after grandchildren with little or no household incomes to do so.

The community project, through its operating company Eluphindweni Farming Enterprise (EFE), will be 100% owned by the Eluphindweni Community. The project aims to become a sustainable and profitable business initiative dedicated to uplifting the rural economy, by creating wealth, employment, skills development, and food security and being an icon for doing business in the rural areas of South Africa and Africa alike.

The project will intensively crop farm +-50ha of arable community land. Crops grown will be a combination of labour intensive high value crops (i.e. sweet-chilli peppers), food security crops (e.g. cabbages, butternuts, maize, etc.), and soil management crops (e.g. Lucerne, variety of grass crops).

Specific problems to be addressed:

UNEMPLOYMENT: Caba, Ntsito, Qwili-Qwili, and Eluphindweni communities are currently experiencing an estimated in excess of 85% unemployment rate. Through the proposed community project, estimated direct 50 – 100 jobs will be created. This excludes jobs created by spin-off economic activities.

FOOD INSECURITY: The crop farming initiative has the potential to produce the following estimated volumes of food produce per annum:
Maize – 40 tons
Butternuts – 14,000 no.of butternuts
Cabbages – 75 tons

These foods will be made available to be purchased and consumed by all the employees and surrounding rural communities. The bulk of the foods will be transported to the vegetable markets around the former Transkei and Border area where the produce will be sold to the local population. Currently the rural areas are experiencing shortages in certain vegetable types which means foods are being transported all the way from areas such as Mpumalanga to markets in Mthatha. This is contributing to higher prices for the local rural population consumers.

POVERTY: Should the project become a reality, there will be a significant investment into the rural economy. Increased household income will be created through the jobs created and the dividends paid out to the Eluphindweni community as a result of their shareholding in the business. The improved road infrastructure will mean that mobile clinics can now reach the Eluphindweni village where currently sick community members have to be carried 5-7km to the nearest road.

LACK OF ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITY: The lack of private business in the rural area of Caba, Ntsito, Qwili-Qwili, and Eluphindweni communities means that there is no core competence entrepreneurial business for people to gain knowledge off. The project will stimulate an entrepreneurial boost as more rural communities are exposed to business and ideas. There will also be potential for spin-off businesses such as shops and various other service related businesses.

DILAPIDATED INFASTRUCTURE: Dilapidated school building, no running water and no sanitation are among the few of Eluphindweni communities infrastructural needs that will be addressed through this initiative. The building of the road by the Department of Rural Development & Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) in 2011 has meant that people can get supplies into and out of the community. Sick community members were being carried +-5-10km to the nearest road where they still had to travel 50km to the nearest hospital. The road has served a vital socio-economic role since being built. No three-phase electricity is also a problem that inhibits any investment and lowers living standards.

SHORTAGE OF SKILLS: The crop growing initiative will invest in increasing the general community’s skills levels. Although the business has not got a set structure in place just yet, these are some of the positions that will be available to community members:
Directors
Crop Manager
Team supervisors
Yard supervisors
Tractor operators
Pickers
Packers
Graders
Plant operators
Crop sprayers
Technicians - Mechanics / Fitters

The intention is to fill all these positions with people out of the surrounding communities, especially the Eluphindweni community as they will have a shareholding in the business. It will however, take hiring specialist staff from outside, to be mentors to selected potential community members until the community members have the necessary training and experience.

A few more of the problems that will be improved by the initiative are: no sustainable economic activity; lack of investment; mistrust between potential entrepreneurs and local communities; lack of nutrition; poor health; lack of animal husbandry, subsistence economy skills; poor education and facilities.

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