May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears
Nelson Mandela

Project CHANGE is an empowerment-initiative focused on the commercial production, packaging, marketing and sales of table grapes and citrus in the Loskop Valley.

Grounded in the spirit and principles of the National Development Plan, the goal of this business is to become a market-leading, black-owned “profit-for-purpose” farming initiative, able to service local and international markets with premium products. At the same time it will empower the communities involved in the project through job creation and provide education, training, and healthcare services.

Project CHANGE is the brainchild of Schoonbee Landgoed, an established citrus and grape farmer and exporter situated in the Loskop Valley of Groblersdal in the Limpopo Province. The family-run business has been operating in the area for the past 75 years. It has recently embarked on a transformation process moving from a family-based business to a corporatized business based on shared value principles. This notion resonated with Thebe Investment Corporation’s community approach within the agricultural sector, resulting in a partnership now called project CHANGE.

As a significantly transformative and replicable broad-based initiative within the agricultural sector, Project CHANGE has the potential to provide an innovative, long-term model for partnering between established white commercial farmers and black institutional investors. At the same time it empowers local communities and supports new entrant (including small holder) farmers in achieving financial viability. Joint management of Project CHANGE will harness Schoonbee Landgoed’s skills, market and cultivar access, packing facilities and partnerships, while leveraging Thebe’s track record in investment management and community engagement.

The new partners believe that Project Change will have a big social impact in the Groblersdal and surrounding area, providing dignity to people through addressing specific social needs. Targeting these social needs through strategic projects is considered as a priority and built into the business model as a pre-requisite. It will be implemented from the onset of this initiative, not only once it has become profitable. The first social need that will be addressed is to provide employment for people living in the Loskop Valley and surrounding communities. To compliment additional employment, a joined transformation plan between Project CHANGE and Schoonbee Landgoed will drive diversity with a specific focus on gender, race and youth. Secondly, primary health care facilities and services will support workers and the wider community’s health. Thirdly, providing education and training opportunities to workers, their children and budding entrepreneurs in the surrounding communities may unlock human capability and break the systemic cycle of poverty. Essentially, while citrus and grapes may be the core business of Project CHANGE, the over-arching purpose is to affect change in agriculture through empowerment and upliftment.

Listen to the ClassicFM Business episode “Overcoming systemic challenges to transform SA’s agri sector”:

For more information on Project Change kindly contact Gert Upton on marketing@schoonbee.co.za or Cornelia van Zyl on cornelia@schoonbee.co.za.

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