Thousands of people across South Africa will benefit from a diverse range of community empowerment projects selected to receive grants from the Ford Motor Company Fund, as part of the Ford College Community Challenge (C3).
The C3 program runs in collaboration with Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, and non-profit organization Enactus to empower communities to become more sustainable, and improve working and living conditions.
The winning proposals came from five different South African universities, and they will receive approximately R70 000 (5 000 USD) per project as they which set out to empower disabled and elderly people, assist with food security, job creation and economic development of impoverished communities.
University students take the leadership role in these Enactus projects, from design to implementation, and the teams are encouraged to think innovatively and creatively about what it means to build a sustainable community.
“The Ford Enactus C3 project forms part of the global Ford C3 Building Sustainable Communities Project Partnership, which is a collaborative and innovative student-led initiative that addresses an urgent, unmet social need or problem in the community,” said Bheki Mdzikwa, regional program coordinator for Enactus South Africa.
“This is the project’s second year in Africa, and is now active in Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Morocco, South Africa and the United Kingdom where local communities have benefited and been uplifted in significant, meaningful ways,” she added.
“Enactus teams from the five South African universities were selected to be part of the change-makers in society for the third cycle of the Enactus Ford C3 program. These projects will go towards providing solutions to challenges and empowering the communities in a significant way.”
The project proposed by the Durban University of Technology works with the Vukuzame Self Help Disability Cooperative to empower disabled people in the community of Hammersdale, near Durban, with various skills in order to generate income and ensure food security. This involves an agricultural programme; growing products such as tomatoes in green house tunnels, which allows for year-round production. This is supported by the development of simple solar-powered portable cooling systems to minimise losses of produce after harvesting.
Students from the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University submitted a winning proposal for an innovative sanitation project, aimed at decreasing the spread of bacteria such as E.coli, which promotes the importance of environmental sustainability.
Partnering with the Lesego Centre, the project collects used soap from hotels, guest houses and bed-and-breakfast facilities, to recycle this into liquid soap for use in the community, and sold for industrial use. The university team provides the centre with basic project management skills such as budgeting, resource allocation and fund raising to ensure the sustainability of the project.
The Tshwane University of Technology put forward an extensive plan, in conjunction with the Kopano KeMatla Trust, to develop the Madinyane Agropolis 200 hectare farm in Brits to assist the surrounding impoverished community. This farm initiative focuses on sustainable agricultural activities, using renewable and alternative energies, as well as creating a business hub and educational zones.
The agricultural component uses new, environmentally-friendly methods for cultivating vegetables, grains and crops, along with greenhouse horticulture and aquaculture.
Indigenous African grasses such as Veitver and Napier will be planted at the boundary of the project as much and water control, and as a wind shield. Additionally, they will also generate an income for the community as a secondary feedstock for biofuels production.
The Enactus team from the University of Pretoria saw an opportunity to combat both the need for lighting and employment, through the introduction of its Zama Lesedi project, in partnership with the Mamelodi Arts and Culture Forum.
This seeks to empower members of the community with the skills to reproduce a low-cost solar light, and to help them establish a business in order to sell this innovative product. The long-term sustainability of the project largely depends on the success of sales, along with the profits made from this business venture.
At the Vaal University of Technology, the Enactus team works with the Bantu Bonke project, which features a state-of-the-art hydroponic farm situated in the heart of the Gauteng province. The farm plants crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach. Instead of planting the crops in soil, they are planted in a mixture of saw dust and other organic materials. All the nutrients the crops need to grow are mixed in with the water instead of using fertilizers.
In order to expand production during the cold winter months, the project set out to install climate control systems for the hydroponic tunnels – thus making sure the crops grow in optical conditions. This will help grow the farm in such a way that they will be able to employ more people and empower the surrounding community.
All of the Enactus South Africa teams will submit a Final Impact Report in October 2016 to detail the success of their projects.
Enactus is a global non-profit organization that brings together students, academic professionals and business leaders who are committed to using entrepreneurial action to improve lives. It mobilizes over 1,700 university programs in 36 countries across the globe.
An annual series of regional and national competitions provides a forum for teams to showcase the impact of their outreach efforts and to be evaluated by executives serving as judges. National champion teams advance to the prestigious Enactus World Cup to experience excellence in competition, collaboration and celebration. The 2016 Enactus World Cup will be held in Toronto, Canada, from September 28-30.