By NOZICELO NGCOBO, Director: Group External Relations, Tiger Brands

Tiger Brands has made a bold commitment to move away from pure philanthropy and rather to support the building of food secure, resilient and economically active communities through investing in its nongovernmental organisation NGO partners.

 At Tiger Brands, we take our responsibility to contribute to uplifting the people and communities around our 47 sites across South Africa extremely seriously. We remain encouraged and positively overwhelmed by our social partners who share the same passion. Without these social partners, none of our work would be possible. Tiger Brands has been actively involved in the corporate social investment space for over a decade, providing access to food for thousands of beneficiaries each year. However, the pace of job creation and economic development required in South Africa led to the decision to do more than just provide food donations. We found we could move faster by enhancing the capacity of all our NGO partners to support the sustainable economic inclusion of previously disadvantaged beneficiaries. Through our socio-economic development (SED) initiatives, we aim to encourage an integrated, supportive approach to social investment within an overarching focus on food safety, nutrition and health. 

NGO Accelerator Programme

There are active, community run NGOs in virtually every settlement across South Africa. They are run by passionate and dedicated community leaders – often women – in the best interests of our people. We believe that by directly empowering them we can sustainably uplift communities. Consequently, it is critical that these organisations are supported by corporates to be properly and adequately capacitated to not only do more than just transactional activities, but also to be the conduit for real socioeconomic impact and sustainable change. Capacity building of our social partners will be achieved through our newly developed programme, the – the NGO Accelerator Programme, which is aimed at equipping our partners in the areas of governance, compliance, business skills, community enterprise development, bookkeeping, and other similar skills. The NGO Accelerator Programme is an incubator to build professional, globally compliant NGOs that can be self sustaining businesses with access to capital and relevant business networks. It is truly a flagship project to build food secure, resilient and economically active communities. We believe that by capacitating our partners in this way, they will be able to run sustainable, efficient and financially successful operations. An additional benefit for these NGOs will be that they will be able to approach any corporate in South Africa or international donors to secure further incremental funding and grow their reach in communities. Yes, we encourage our social partners to connect with as many other corporates and organisations as they deem fit. It is through partnerships and working together for social good that we will be able to shift the dial and accelerate the pace of development. 

Research led approach 

Earlier this year, we conducted an extensive social mapping analysis in eight of our host communities to understand the community needs and assets, identify stakeholders and formalise the relationships required as part of enabling our NGOs to establish proper governance processes. Based on this, we co created real impact programmes with the community NGOs to address the challenges on the ground. An early example is a partnership with Food and Trees for Africa FTFA where we are rolling out a programme called EduPlant, which teaches permaculture in schools and communities and creates opportunities for people to start microfarming enterprises and community food gardens. The vision is to stimulate these partners to become viable NGOs, even business enterprises, while also supporting the community. Our socioeconomic development strategy is still in its early stages, but already we are seeing encouraging progress. We are fortunate to work with amazing partners who share our vision. It is not only about providing food security, but also about stimulating economic activity primarily in the food space. 

For each programme developed, we build an exit strategy to ensure our NGO partners become self sufficient and enable us to move on and reach more communities. As much as possible, we will try and build pathways for our beneficiaries into Tiger Brands supply chain and business networks. For example, it is possible that the herbs, which can be grown at our NGO partner community farms and microfarming enterprises, can be procured by Tiger Brands as well as our retail partners. 

We believe this approach of empowering communities through skills, network and market access will make them less reliant on government and corporate partners over time. Ultimately, we would like to see community enterprises reaching a stage of self reliance where we can phase ourselves out of the relationship. 

At present, Tiger Brands has relationships with 20 NGOs across South Africa, through which we reach 30 000 families and 4 000 university students on a monthly basis, impacting the lives of more than 100 000 people. We foresee our community enterprise approach stimulating economic activity and reaching even more families. 

We dream of seeing at least one individual in every household who has been capacitated become economically active; this would mean one less family receiving a food hamper and one more family becoming food secure. 

There will always be a need for food donations to support extremely vulnerable groups or in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters. So, we will continue responding to calls for support in these instances. 

Community enterprise development requires a deeper commitment from corporates and more financial resources than a simple donation. But such an investment builds longer lasting social impact by giving NGOs the tools to be more self sufficient and by creating empowered communities that can do more. 

In the words of the well known proverb, we are teaching people to fish. 

Published 1 November 2019

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