Coca-Cola Beverages SA (CCBSA) has unveiled a R400 million trust named the Mintirho Foundation that will develop historically disadvantaged emerging farmers and small suppliers, growing them to become full participants in the commercial agriculture value chain.
New farmers typically struggle with access to land and a lack of adequate financial and other support, especially in the critical early years.
They need help to keep their heads above water long enough to start making a profit and ultimately to win a commercial contract that allows them to move into commercial farming. This is a constant battle in which they are weighed down by debt and the costs of servicing it, causing many to fail before they break even.
The fund will make a huge difference by providing financial, training and development support for historically disadvantaged farmers and small suppliers of inputs, particularly those who supply inputs into the CCBSA value chain.
“CCBSA’s buying power, with that of like-minded corporates and retailers, will help to make a sustainable economic difference in the lives of beneficiaries,” said CCBSA MD Velaphi Ratshefola at a gala dinner held at Gallagher Estate to launch the fund.
“The Foundation we are launching is intended to build a new kind of business relationship between us and black emerging farmers and suppliers, in which we don’t just buy their produce, but we actively support their development from the earliest stages,” Ratshefola said.
“We will be more than customers, we will be partners in a venture to grow new and emerging black suppliers, helping to change the face of agriculture in our country and sustainably address some of the painful legacies of our past.”
The company’s sustainability and transformation objectives include sustainable agriculture, women and youth empowerment, 80% local sourcing, supplier development and relevant community partnerships. The establishment of the Mintirho Foundation fits in well with this strategy and also meets the terms of the company’s original merger agreement.
CCBSA’s R400 million investment into the fund will be paid in five R80 million instalments up to 2021, with the first instalment having been made last year (2017).
The fund will focus on alleviating the key pressure points that farmers face, such as big loans, high interest costs and capital expenditure, and limited access to technical skills, business support and training.
It will give structured funding to qualifying beneficiaries. The Foundation has been structured to allow other industry players to make contributions to the fund, provided they’re aligned to the foundation’s principles, objectives and guidelines.
“This foundation is about changing lives and revitalising agriculture to make a tangible, transformative difference,” said the chairperson of the Mintirho Foundation, Khomotso Letsatsi.
“We see a future where agriculture supports thriving rural communities and people are no longer forced to head for the city to find work.
“As the chairperson of this fund, I’m excited by the opportunity to make a lasting difference and helping to grow a new generation of farmers and suppliers who will, in turn, employ others and grow the rural economy,” Letsatsi said.