From the 17th to the 19th of April, Skeppies project implementers, Conservation South Africa (CSA), Indigo Development and Change, the Heiveld Cooperative and SANBI embarked on a two and a half day learning exchange that focused on business, branding and marketing in Springbok and Nieuwoudtville.
The visit was set in motion on the first day when the participants were given a presentation by Graham van der Sandt, who is the regional facilitator at the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA). His talk focused on small businesses and co-operatives.
Tennille Rhode of CSA spoke to the participants about Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and the processes to get certified, whilst Arthur Cloete of CSA engaged the group with interactive sessions about marketing and branding. A lot of links were made during this session, as project implementers realized how they can help one another in order to become more sustainable in developing their businesses.
The following day the group went to Nieuwoudtville where they visited Rietjieshuis. Rietjieshuis is a Skeppies project based on the concept of a cultural village and also allows access to hiking trails in the Greater Cederberg. Here rich discussions developed as the representatives of CSA, Indigo development and Change, and Rietjieshuis project implementer Marie Cyster shared knowledge about small businesses.
After the session at Rietjieshuis the participants went to the Heiveld Co-Operative for a site visit of the Rooibos project. The Mission of the Heiveld Co-operative is to produce and market the finest organic rooibos tea at fair prices on behalf of its members and thereby create a better life for small-scale farmers and other members of the community.
During this visit the participants learnt that the Heiveld Co-op and its dynamic team has had an enormous impact on improving the conditions and livelihoods of its members and facilitated their ability to farm with rooibos in a sustainable manner. Over the years the co-op has developed steadily. There are currently 60 members and the tea court infrastructure includes two large drying aprons, an array of tanks for rain water collection and a solar power installation. There are plans for the further development of facilities on the site, including the construction of accommodation for workers, built in the traditional style of stone and restio thatch.
The participants also visited the Indigo offices, where Elmariza Smith of CSA did a presentation about climate change, climate diaries and weather forecast.
Everyone enjoyed a lovely talk at these site visits. Feedback from the participants such as the Biodiversity and Red Meat Initiative (BRI) farmers was that they wanted to know more about co – operatives, and consequently also expressed an interest in possibly establishing a co-operative for the BRI.
Highlights of the visit were suggestions by Van der Sandt that Skeppies, CSA and SEDA work together to create a magazine that advertises all the small businesses. This two day learning exchange allowed the various partners and project implementers o share knowledge and experiences, and to build links as to where and how they can assist and support each other in their future endeavours.