R3bn deal PAYS OFF
A massive multi-billion rand Black A Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deal is reviving the economy of forgotten Eastern Cape villages and creating jobs in South Africa's second poorest province.
The joint R3 billion BEE deal between the Old Mutual Group South Africa - comprising Old Mutual, Nedbank and Mutual & Federal - and BEE partner Wiphold launched the economic partnership of Centani with Premier Nosimo Balindlela at a ceremony last Thursday.
Wiphold managing director Gloria Serobe said: "We chose Centani because it is one of the poorest places in the country and took a risk to go where most of the banks and financial institutions fear to tread."
Serobe said the deal would help many people by creating jobs and opening up new business opportunities and investments in the province.
Wiphold is an investment company owned by black women.
Centani is mostly a farming area with the second highest unemployment rate - 38 percent - in the country. It is part of the Matole district.
The deal has been described as the first business model of its kind in South Africa.
The deal was signed in 2006 after consultation with the Mnquma municipality, local community and traditional leaders.
The Green Shop is a banking complex in the heart of rural Centani. It has become the area's economic hub , comprising Nedbank and an ATM machine, Old Mutual and Mutual & Federal offices, the traditional leaders' building and a centre for small enterprises and other organisations to run their businesses and development programmes. There are banking facilities, livestock insurance, collective lending and saving schemes and mud hut insurance.
"Many people are dying of hunger so the government commends this successful BEE deal," Balindlela told the community of Centani. She committed R300 million to building and improving roads in the province.
The Green Shop is based on the green revolution concept and was built mostly by local women from recycled material.
The Green Shop has a vegetable garden and local people are employed to run it and sell vegetables.
The partnership between the banking industry and government is to facilitate food security, micro-agriculture, livestock dipping, water tank restoration and fence-making projects.
"Our livestock cover is the first in South Africa and is affordable because the premiums are volume based," said Merrick Oeschger, executive general manager of business development and sales at Mutual and Federal.
Winner of the Eastern Cape's 2005 Female Farmer of the Year award, Nolinda Makaula, is one of the locals benefiting from the Siyazondla Food Security Programme, which is part of the deal.
Nedbank will launch a collective lending and savings programme for people such as Makaula to expand their businesses.
"We grow and sell our fresh vegetables, such as cabbage and carrots, to the local businesses and feed our families," Makaula said.