There are many companies looking to channel corporate social investment (CSI) funds into worthy causes in South Africa. Food security projects are often high on the agenda, but good CSI implementation partners are hard to find.

Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) has been a pioneer in CSI-funded food security projects in South Africa for the last 30 years. Our Permaculture Starter Packs (PSPs) are the perfect entry-level funding interventions, providing a framework on which beneficiaries can create a sustainable long-term project.

“We have run thousands of projects over the years and currently have hundreds of active projects around South Africa,” says Chris Wild, FTFA Executive Director. “For the last seven years, we have started to define these quantitative statistics to see what makes a project successful.”

What does a successful food security project look like?

A good implementation partner should have the necessary expertise and solid structures in place to ensure project success. “FTFA has a proud and successful history in running food security projects in South Africa,” Wild continues. “We have a wide network of experienced facilitators, who can deliver a methodology based on a full range of educational materials developed over three decades of working in communities across the country.”

The Permaculture Starter Pack is a proven way to kickstart food security projects based on school food gardens. “The importance of PSPs comes from the framework they provide and the role they play in the greater methodology and ecosystem of FTFA,” explains Wild. “This enables us to conduct a focused, quantitative evaluation of a project’s potential, meaning we can direct donor funding to projects with a higher chance of success. Together, our partnerships with corporate sponsors ensure that all of our permaculture gardens are well-resourced and supported through the Permaculture Starter Packs.”

Peace of mind comes from selecting the right partner to get the most out of your investment. FTFA works from an ethical value base throughout our interactions with beneficiary projects. “Integrity and professionalism are critical to a successful food security programme,” states Wild. “There is a scarcity of bona fide implementation partners in South Africa, who can make sure that donor funds are directed to the right projects, through the right channels.”

Experience is key when choosing CSI partners

Partnering with an NGO like Food & Trees for Africa is key to formulating a unified response to food security. Experienced partners ensure that money goes to deserving projects, gets utilised effectively, and pays for training that helps beneficiaries to assume responsibility, developing their own sustainable projects in the long term, as well as being agents of skills transfer within their communities.

A vital aspect of any food security project, for example, is understanding the environment within which each project is situated. This makes experience in the sector a primary consideration. While some things may seem obvious, aspects like the importance of water availability cannot be underestimated. “The kind of access you have to water makes a big difference. A reliable primary water source like a borehole, year-round river, or large dam is the basis for any successful permaculture project. While rainwater tanks are a great secondary source, they will always need to be supplemented, due to the high irrigation demands of even small projects,” says Wild.

Even the best project concept and setup will fail if the people implementing the project are not committed. This is why it is crucial to assess both situational and behavioural factors, as Wild explains: “It’s no use having a water tank (the situational factor) if there is a leak that is never fixed because nobody is monitoring and maintaining the infrastructure (the behavioural factor).”

Why should donors start with a PSP?

PSPs allow CSI donors to start with a minimal, short-term investment with clear goalposts for success. As such, they provide a relatively risk-free addition to an organisation’s CSI portfolio, and are a perfect entry point for donors who want to support food security projects.

The PSP works really well as an assessment tool that gauges the commitment of the beneficiary before investing in a long-term project. This helps to channel funds into deserving projects and greatly increases project success rate. “Because we invest donor funding wisely, we have a very high conversion rate from our PSP programmes into long-term programmes,” adds Wild. “It is not about indiscriminately throwing money at the problem. It is about well-targeted, thoughtful interventions that find the most deserving beneficiaries and give them the support they need to develop into sustainable, long-term food security projects.”

If you are interested in funding a Permaculture Starter Pack through FTFA, please get in touch with us: info@trees.org.za or 011 656 9802

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