SKEPPIES funds farmers and entrepreneurs

09 November 2016

Skeppies funds farmersSince 2007, the SKEPPIES Small Grants Fund has supported a variety of projects and businesses that showed potential as employment and income generation opportunities for poor communities in the Succulent Karoo.

A variety of businesses have been provided with funding to either expand an existing business or as a start-up funding for concepts that showed economic potential and considered nature within their business model. With the roll-out of catalytic funding over the last nine years, SKEPPIES has supported 51 businesses, empowered business leaders to expand their businesses and coordinated networking opportunities with like-minded entrepreneurs, incorporated climate risk reduction strategies in business plans, and in some cases started new businesses that have grown from strength to strength.

Initially SKEPPIES support was confined to the Northern Cape, but this year it expanded beyond the borders of Namaqualand, and, thanks to the generous support of the Citi Foundation, SKEPPIES has provided technical and financial support to farming groups and businesses in both the Namakwa and Alfred Nzo Districts in the Northern and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa respectively.

In 2016 SKEPPIES provided funding for the expansion of two existing businesses, Nampetroleum, a biodiesel company, and the Kraalbos Soap Company. Both of these businesses have grown due to product demand and with additional support from SKEPPIES and other investors, the two companies were able to double the size of their plant to increase their production capacity.

In addition to the small businesses that continue to receive support, this year SKEPPIES has supported farming groups in the Namakwa and Alfred Nzo Districts to implement more sustainable land management practices to enable them to access a larger markets than they currently do. With better animal health and rangeland management comes healthier animals, a continuous and healthy food source and ultimately better prices at auction.

In addition to the new biodiesel project, SKEPPIES has provided funding to establish a community owned and run backpackers facility on the Wild Coast. Other companies that received support for upgrading and expansion are the Mehloding Hiking Trail in Matatiele, Eastern Cape, the purchasing of additional equipment for the Amandala recycling project and support for an ecotourism venture in the Northern Cape.

This is all thanks to the Citi Foundation who has teamed up with Conservation South Africa (CSA) to support and implement development opportunities that create jobs and support small businesses and farming groups.

By Tessa Mildenhall and extracted from Vubuzela, September 2016.

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