Ntebo Sedikwe, head of RBPlat community project, wins prestigious North West Department of Agriculture's 14th Annual Female Entrepreneur AwardTeam leader Ntebo Sedikwe, 56 and herself partially blind, was recently named North West Department of Agriculture’s 14th Annual Female Entrepreneur.
Community gardens have been an important source of food for hundreds of years, providing affordable fresh fruit and vegetables to local communities. The Chaneng Association for the Blind, with assistance from Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat), have transformed a vacant piece of land into a thriving hydroponic garden that grows a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit, all year around.
Other knock-on effects from the project have been rewarding, too. The Chaneng Farming and Primary Co-operative brings people together – from different backgrounds and generations, improving individual and community confidence. Residents of the surrounding communities believe that the garden has made a massive difference.
The community garden has created a culture where everyone looks out for each other – business and community members alike.
This is in line with RBPlat’s ‘more than mining’ philosophy, in which the company commits to creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society.
The Chaneng garden was already in existence when RBPlat was approached by the Royal Bafokeng Administration in 2011 to get involved to help increase its productivity, introduce systems and management processes to create more jobs and ultimately ensure its sustainability.
“The project was a perfect fit for us – we have designed our social responsibility and sustainable development strategies to help us achieve a balance between our interests and those of the communities. Empowering our communities is an investment in their future and ours,” explains Steve Phiri, RBPlat CEO.
RBPlat began providing support for the upgrading of the garden in September 2011, equipping it with pumps and water tanks, shade netting structures, an irrigation system, a storeroom, wash rooms and an ablution block. To date, a total of R3.3 million has been invested by the company in the project.
The garden has a workforce of twelve people – four semi-blind and eight completely blind – who are residents of the Chaneng Village. The garden produces seasonal produce, which it sells to Sun City, Fruit and Veg City in Rustenburg, the Rasimone Primary School and the Johannesburg Municipal Market.
With the help of RBPlat, members of the Chaneng Association of the Blind have been trained in how to manage various aspects of the business.
Ntebo says: “Women have been empowered to grow fresh food and learn new skills. I hope to inspire women and people with disabilities in the province and across the country. Our accomplishment is a clear example that anyone can achieve whatever they want if they are dedicated.”
This year the annual provincial award was held under the theme ‘Harnessing Women’s Talent for Sustainable Food Security: A vision beyond 2030’, and aims to recognise, celebrate, honour and reward the continuous contributions made by women in the fight against hunger, poverty and unemployment.
The project has grown from strength to strength and it is envisaged that it will continue to grow into a viable business, offering on-going opportunities to local community members. “The garden has been so successful, we look forward to it becoming completely self-sustaining in the near future,” says Steve.
RBPlat will continue to work with all its stakeholders including the Royal Bafokeng Administration, the Rustenburg Local Municipality and all local communities on development projects such as this – building on the success of true community involvement.
For images of the project please visit the photo gallery.
For further enquiries, please contact:
Royal Bafokeng Platinum
Collin Alexander/ Keamogetse Kalebe
Tel: 010 590 4520
Russell and Associates
James Duncan/ Pam Wolstenholme
Tel: +27 (0)11 880 3924