Corporate Social Responsibility
Tag: venda community
I decided to create the EcoProducts Foundation (a non-profit organisation) when I realised that simply providing employment to local Venda communities wasn’t enough. I wanted to do more and decided to support early childhood development, which in these rural areas is very neglected. In addition, the results of my PhD research revealed that goats and drought were hampering the growth of young baobab trees. It seemed to me that the most helpful thing I could do was to focus on creating a culture of caring for both children and trees. So I began by setting aside funds from my own business, EcoProducts, to initiate the process and in 2013, we launched the Baobab Guardians Programme.
Since EcoProducts is fortunate to have strong connections with local and international businesses, I began to hope that the EcoProducts Foundation could create a funding conduit between my customers and the communities I work with.
I have approached a few businesses so far and have been generously supported by the Bonga Foundation and Sevenhills Organics who have stepped forward to help and to offer their warmly appreciated contributions.
I would be so grateful for any further contributions to theses two programmes that are close to my heart. Please share this post with anyone you think may be inspired to make a donation – large or small. Every little bit is so very welcome!
To find out more about each programme and how to donate, please click on the links below.
…and Annah Mendela is just one of them. After being inspired by previous films made in collaboration with PhytoTrade and EcoProducts, Greg Cameron has created this warm and sensitve portrait of Annah, showing how by collecting baobab fruit for EcoProducts, she has been able to turn her life around. A short 2.5 minute film that's so beautifully made it will stay with you long after you've watched it. [vimeo id=”9605224″ align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
The area where baobabs are found is usually very arid and the climate not easy to grow crops in. Many of the harvesters with whom I work have fields around their villages where they do dry-land cropping for food and to supplement income. Dry-land cropping means that there is no irrigated water to the fields and they have to rely on rainfall. The best grain crops to survive these conditions are sorghum and millet. Even these crops often fail, but this year has been an exception with excellent rainfall through the area. It was rare to see the fields around the villages so green and lush.
Recently, Greg Cameron was commissioned by PhytoTrade to make a film on baobabs in which he records the stories of the baobab fruit collectors and how baobab fruit help them improve their lives. Here, Itai Chibiya, PhytoTrade's Monitoring and Research Evaluator is being filmed while being interviewed. EcoProducts was chosen as the site for the interviews. Sarah Venter, the owner of EcoProducts was also interviewed about how she works with the harvesters and ensures that the collection of the fruit benefits everybody in the supply chain and in particular the harvesters. Sitting under one of the biggest baobabs in the village chatting to some of the baobab fruit collectors gave her an insight into what this special and talented man was all about. He says “ do less, do it better and make it matter more”. He now wants to fuse his knowledge with his passion to build socially conscious brands through integrated story.
Greg was also commissioned to film the Siemens COP 17 Baobab video – a brilliant 90 second video!
There are 21 videos by Greg Cameron on Vimeo. He is a freelance video producer and has done a wide variety of award-winning work from TV ad campaigns to brand promotions. Do take a few minutes out of your day to watch his videos- he's a man to follow!
Last month, 50 rural women harvesters attended a baobab growing and sustainable harvesting course. I had such fun with this, taking 50 rural women baobab fruit harvesters on a field trip from Zigodini village to Pafuri River Camp Nursery, on the banks of the Mutale River. The course was done with a mixture of practical parts and discussions. The discussions focused on a number of questions related to baobab biology, climate change, sustainable harvesting and nursery practice. The women were encouraged to participate in discussions and debate each question. The practical part was in the nursery where they learned about baobab germination, growth, soil requirements, watering, and so much more. Each woman was given a planting bag and seeds to take home so that she can grow her first baobab and plant it out into the village where she lives. Here's to 50 more baobab trees growing in the Limpopo!
Last week while on a photo shoot in Venda, the harvesters asked me where I went with all the baobab fruit I buy from them. So I said, why don’t you come and see? We worked out the taxi money from Venda and back and set a date for the following Thursday.
The women travelled 200km to visit EcoProducts in Makhado. They arrived in their beautiful Minwendas (traditional venda dress). I could not resist the temptation of putting on my Minwenda which was given to me by Chief Sumbana a few years ago.
We showed the women around the premises and they chatted with all the staff. When they saw what the fruit was being used for and how we process the powder and oil, they realized why I am so fussy about the quality of fruit I buy from them. There was such tremendous ‘buy-in’ from them, once they understood the importance of the harvesting work they did. They felt part of a greater process rather than just the suppliers of the fruit.
We showed them the cracking, separating, sieving and packing of the powder. They also were amazed by the oil press and that such a small dry seed could produce oil.
Last week, you met Sani Madau one of the Venda women who does embroidery to supplement her income. Now I want to introduce you to the lady who makes it possible – Ina Le Roux. She has created a wonderful business supporting rural Venda women who embroider such beautiful work. Read her absolutely heartwarming story of how she began the project which now produces beautifully embroidered images from Venda folk stories. Click here. And aren’t these just gorgeous embroidered Baobab trees! You can order applique blocks directly from the website.
Annie Nenzhelele has been collecting baobab fruit for EcoProducts for a few years now. Last week when I was visiting her village she said that she has been using the money she has earned for building her house. She took me into her house to show me the bags of cement she had bought to complete internal plastering. She will use her next earnings from baobab fruit to complete the ceiling. Here is Annie proudly showing off her bags of cement.