Five years after its first pilot, the Masisizane Fund’s Agricultural Flagship Project has taken firm root in the agri-sector of the Eastern Cape’s Alfred Nzo District Municipality, and Harry Gwala District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

By facilitating impactful funding and post investment support, the fund has been contributing significantly to job creation and empowerment in these targeted areas.

The Masisizane Fund is an Old Mutual initiative established in 2007 as a non-profit funding company to support SMMEs and food security. Stakeholders from various public sector departments, Flagship Project clients and partner organisations met with the fund’s leadership team in Kokstad in KZN on Monday, 26 March to unpack the value-adding impact being made.

Economies of scale are critical in today’s farming environment as evidenced by farming units growing in scale and scope in South Africa and around the world.  To this end, the Masisizane Fund established an agri-cluster approach, which entails clustering small scale farmers together.

The aim of the Masisizane Agricultural Flagship Project is to empower emerging farmers to become viable commercial grain farmers of soya beans, dry beans and maize.

Through an investment of over R100 million together with its partners, the Masisizane Fund has changed the prospects of the rural farming community in the Alfred Nzo and Harry Gwala district municipalities.

“This empowering Agricultural Flagship Project has made the route to follow, in terms of developing a partnership driven ecosystem, very clear,” said Zizipho Nyanga, CEO of the Masisizane Fund.

The emphasis needs to be on human capacity to achieve financial inclusion, economic growth, increased income levels, food security, sustainable employment and poverty reduction.

The Masisizane Fund has become a vital link between capital and opportunity for the people of South Africa.  By delivering a tailored and integrated investment solution, the Fund not only empowers, but also generates sustainable employment.

Masisizane’s mandate, in fact, dovetails perfectly with the agreement between the Economic Development Department (EDD) and Old Mutual, signed earlier this year, to address empowerment, employment and enterprise supplier development.

“The already evident success of this Flagship Project, even at this grassroots stage, presents a significant opportunity for institutional investors looking for a good capital preservation tool that is also a reliable inflation hedge and has low to negative correlation with traditional asset classes,” said Wandisile Makwabe, Head of Agribusiness and Flagship Initiative.

He added, “Our aim is to create a legacy of social and economic transformation, serve as a bold catalyst for development through leveraged funds, and contribute to the all-inclusive supply chain development of the agricultural producers. We are using this opportunity today to encourage further investment and partnerships in this initiative.”

With the support, collaboration and investment of relevant partners, the Masisizane Fund aims to address the issues raised in the revised BEE codes by integrating smallholder farmers into established and sustainable supply chains.

“Together with an admirable network of professional partners and technical experts in agriculture, manufacturing and franchising, the Masisizane Fund has elevated the viability of entrepreneurs, boosted regional productivity and delivered investment returns,” said Simpiwe Somdyala, General Manager, Old Mutual Corporate Affairs. “We’ve proved that profitability for emerging entrepreneurs is possible.”

What the Masisizane Fund has also proven is that there is a natural effective ecosystem that can drive both business value and social value.  Somdyala believes that by continuing to enhance that ecosystem and drive effective Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), more farmers, entrepreneurs and investors as well as partners will be encouraged to join Old Mutual on this empowering journey.

Since inception 10 years ago, the Masisizane Fund Flagship Project has achieved the following:

  • Since the initial R100 million investment to enable the Masisizane Agricultural Flagship project in 2013, an additional R60 million has been invested in the area (Masisizane Fund financing combined with other leverage funding from strategic partners).
  • A total of 3 411 beneficiaries benefited directly and indirectly through initiative returns and job opportunities created.
  • 618 community members have been exposed to job opportunities.
  • 171 farmers have received training in business and technical skills.
  • Approximately 3 950 ha of land is under production.
  • A mechanisation company, GrainCo, that is 100% black owned is contracted to service the 3 950 ha under production.
  • All crop/commodities have been secured markets.
  • Approximately 2 million leveraged funds have been secured from the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) for the development of grain storage facilities (silos) for farmers. – Press release