A major focus of the Old Mutual Foundation is economic empowerment, which is why they target the development of black-owned businesses that have strong potential for job creation. Agri-Life is a case in point. This transformative enterprise is a consortium of black farmers in partnership with strategic white partners (VV4), who together have set up a multi-million rand fruit-packing operation creating almost 80 jobs. The Old Mutual Foundation has invested R2 million towards this project, in conjunction with additional loan funding from Masisizane Fund.
There are four areas of unlocking commercial agricultural profitability. One is that farmers need to run a productive, well-managed farm using good farming practices. However, getting produce to market is vital in order to realise a profit from the crop. In the fruit world, packing facilities are the second stage of the value chain. The third stage would be taking control of the export value chain and the fourth stage would be owning the retail space. Agri-Life (Pty) Ltd is giving smaller black farmers in the area the opportunity of getting into this value chain. Working within the value chain is a new experience for many of the farmers and they face big challenges in transitioning into commercial agriculture. Farming is hard work, there's no other recipe for success and the Agri-Life partnership is pulling hard to address the hurdles. They're a tough bunch of experienced farmers and businessmen with a lot of know-how in the team, but most importantly they share a progressive and transformative vision.
The benefits for these farmers is that by jointly owning our own business in the packing sector, they can reduce costs by up to 60%
Trevor Abrahams, Agri-Life fruit farmer
Photography by the Old Mutual Foundation & Mark Wessels