Supporting Rural Livelihoods, the Unearthed Community Leaders Program
We recently caught up with a few of our Unearthed Community Participants around the iMfolozi Game Reserve. For many of our entrepreneurs, the latest Covid 19 lockdowns (the third wave in South Africa already) has had a massive impact on their business. But, one of the great strengths of people in rural South Africa is a sense of resilience and wanting to help others, the sense of community, "Ubuntu" which is even more evident in these times than ever before. We had a chat with some of the participants to get a sense of how business is going, their vision, what they have learned on their journeys and how they "give back" as social entrepreneurs.
Sabelo Dladla, founder of Mpembe Zulu Experiences outside his homestead overlooking the iMfolozi Game Reserve
Sabelo is founder of Mpembe Zulu Experiences an authentic Zulu cultural experience that explores the impacts of mining and other industries on the local culture.
If my business succeeds, I’ll be able to assist others, the Unearthed program has brought a more positive attitude to my mind, the lockdown has stopped my progress, but I still have a vision and believe that our village tours and homestays can really help my community when we get tourism back again. I believe this idea of mine can bring change in people’s attitudes about culture and how we value each other. The most important lesson I've taken away from being part of the Unearthed process is that it’s never too late and always possible to do something, if ever you’re thinking about giving up, no, not so fast, it’s important to keep positive and belive you can make it.
Zama is an amazing young woman and driven by a passion for nature that she discovered on a Wilderness Trail, she decided to do something to raise awareness for the environment and nature. This gave birth to Naledi Ecotours, a small tourism company focused on providing local environmental education programs for schools around the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Game Reserve, schools which otherwise would have very limited opportunities to expose children to environmental education programs.
I want to help young people learn about nature, I have realized that I’m someone who loves nature and my business follows this interest. I have learned so many new skills, the trails I have been on really stick with me, things like the tree, having balance, being rooted, I learn from nature now and want my business to help other people to do that too. We all need nature, we can’t live without it. I invite my community members to get in touch with nature. We organize a lot of trips with local school children to visit areas around the park in order to ensure that others experience this too. Without nature we can’t survive, this is the most important thing I have learned and want to share this lesson with everyone in my community, especially the youth
Scelo founded Mbopha Arts in 2018, one of our first groups of entrepreneurs on the Unearthed Community Leaders Program. Scelo quietly goes about his business with a rare passion for keeping the community clean of waste and litter.
My vision is to see local people taking care of nature, my business is using recycled materials and showing people how waste can have value, I’m making an original product from materials that people don’t think is useful. The Unearthed Program came into my life at just the right time, I see things differently now. I never took the environment seriously, the program has brought out a lot of change in me personally, I never saw myself being able to run my own business, but I am doing it now, I have belief and integrity now. I’ve started my business with no capital. I’m proud of that. I also support other small businesses in our community, making sure I purchase all my supplies locally, we regularly organize cleanups in the village, this is not a business just for myself, it’s something I want other locals to also benefit from too.
Sbu's chicken farming business, Gebzin Chickens, founded in 2018, supplies fresh, fat, hormone-free chickens. He knows every cent his business brings in and every cent he spends. Sbusiso has achieved his goal is to professionalise his business, improve his marketing, create a brand and expand his facilities to sell to a broader market. But he is also passionate about teaching other farmers how to go about starting their own businesses and always exploring ideas on how we can support others in his community.
I’ve learned to have a long term vision for my business and set goals, I want to double my turnover in the next two years. The program has changed how I run my business, I’ve learned a lot about marketing and how to maintain my business. People depend on me for fresh produce but I also try to help my community by donating all my chicken manure to local gardening projects, I get farmers coming almost every day. Through this process, the most important thing I have learned is to respect your business, you have to have focus, have a plan and stick to it no matter what the circumstances.
Siyabonga started his first "Shisa Nyama" (a traditional Zulu roadside BBQ restaurant) during the initial Covid 19 lockdowns and is one of the youngest participants on the Unearthed Community leaders Program.
I want to make my community proud of me and my business. As a young man, a lot of people don’t believe in me, but the Unearthed program has taught me a lot about business and what I can do to make a profit. As you see in this community, there are not a lot of opportunities and businesses like mine give people convenience but I also hope other young people can see what I’m doing and believe they can do it too. The most important thing I have learned is to just be strong and believe in myself.