Humansdorp dairy project giving boost to women and township economy

Image: 123RF / Olga Kriger

A Humansdorp dairy is empowering women and igniting the township economy through a new investment and marketing project.

Through the Umthombo Enterprise Development Initiative and in co-operation with a team of hawkers, Woodlands Dairy is helping women in the Nelson Mandela Bay townships of Motherwell and Zwide overcome the perennial hurdles of access to funding and a lack of education.

Woodlands Dairy marketing manager Marisa Maccaferri said on Friday Umthombo was a platform to create economic and social growth opportunities for women in the designated communities.

“There is no better time than now to invest in the revitalisation of the economy, specifically the township economy,” she said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on this economy and an initiative to invest in female-owned microenterprises will provide a valuable lifeline and community goodwill.”

The pilot Umthombo project aimed to mobilise 10 female hawkers over 10 months by distributing and selling First Choice products.

In the Nelson Mandela Bay townships, the implementing partners were e-WD and training dynamo Betsy Ings, Maccaferri said.

Ings, the MD of e-WD, said her company’s vision was to make a sustainable, quantifiable impact on the economy by promoting viable growth for small enterprises, with a focus on women and youthful entrepreneurs.

“Together our passion lies in enterprise and socioeconomic development solutions for public and private ventures that we know can make a positive difference in the world.

“The pilot project will provide an opportunity to design and co-create an enterprise development model to replicate and scale to other regions.

“It will also create opportunities to establish essential public, civic and community partnerships.”

She said the aim was to give Woodlands Dairy the opportunity to engage with its community and to create valuable ambassadors.

“e-WD identified potential sites to launch the pilot project where suitable hawkers are presently trading with an existing and diverse customer base.

“Sites were explored in Motherwell, Zwide and specifically at Dora Nginza Hospital.

“Suitable hawkers and two potential distributors were identified and engaged, conducting a needs assessment and exploring potential scope.”

Ings said the hawkers had very little access to finance and very few assets due to a lack of collateral for financing options.

“The analysis done by e-WD found the hawkers to be working in substandard, very basic conditions and exposed to the harsh elements.”

The pilot project had been started in May and now had 11 women participating, she said.

“A range of Woodlands Dairy First Choice products is provided to these women, including cheese, milk, Milki, High Protein Recovery, Kick, and more.

“They are able to establish their own retail prices and sell on to other businesses or the public.

“They know best what their clientele can afford.

“The fermented products like Amasi are the best-sellers.”

She said the buy-in from hawkers since day one had been phenomenal.

“It has given them hope and inspired them to invest in themselves and use this period as a season of growth both personally and for their business, families and community.

“They’re real eager beavers and it’s heartwarming to see them succeed.

“We have one distributor and community co-ordinator and 10 hawkers.

“Eleven businesses and 132 community members are benefiting.”

Maccaferri said the Umthombo Enterprise Development Initiative met the ethos of Woodlands Dairy to honour the dairy’s commitment to its stakeholders by ensuring growth and prosperity for all, based on people, product, processes, sustainability and the environment.

“We’re very excited to be involved and would like to thank the e-WD team and the hawkers for making us part of their development journey.”

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