Green your future
Become a Green-preneur
The Wildlife Conservation trust is proving that entrepreneurship is one way of uplifting impoverished communities in South Africa, whilst generating a positive environmental impact.
The Wildlands Conservation Trust is one of South Africa’s leading environmental organisations, and one which truly shares in Unilever’s belief in making sustainable living commonplace. Working at a community level, through a CEBA (Community Ecosystems Based Adaptation) model, Wildlands operates through a network of ‘Green-preneurs’ across four provinces of Africa, giving unskilled individuals in poverty-stricken areas the chance to improve their way of life by bartering indigenous trees in return for livelihood support, including food, building materials, bicycles, solar panels and rain water harvesting tanks. This sustainable business model helps to re-build ecosystems and ensures alternative modes of transport and energy can be introduced into struggling communities.
Back in 2009, unemployed and relying on government pension to support her 9 grandchildren and husband, Mrs. Gertrude Khanyile represented much of the population in the Sweetwaters community of Kwa Zulu-Natal, and many other impoverished communities in South Africa. Today, her household thrives as a result of planting and bartering indigenous trees (Tree-preneurs), recycling old bottles (waste- preneurs and growing a vegetable garden for livelihood (food- preneurs).
Gertrude was introduced to the programme in 2009 by a young boy carrying trees on his bicycle. Suspicious of the boy, she asked him about his unusual load and, after the boy’s explanation, a new Green-preneur was born. Gertude’s journey began with planting a few seeds. With nurturing, she watched the seeds sprout into small trees and, not long after, she was able to barter the young trees for livelihood from Wildlands.
Through being a Green-preneur Gertrude could start providing for her family outside the government assistance she received. The sprouts of those initial seeds were just the beginning for Gertrude. As part of the Green-preneurs programme, she and her husband got involved in the ‘Recycling for Life’ initiative, whereby they collect bottles in and around their communities and recycle them in return for remuneration. This is not only a way for Gertrude and her family to make an income but also a way of keeping the community clean and helping to create a sustainable future.
Having become a Green-preneur, and now able to provide for her family, Gertrude confidently states that, today, trees and bottles are what makes her happy.
Unilever has a long-standing partnership with The Wildlife Foundation Trust, supporting the Green-preneurs initiative. Last year, the Unilever Foundation donated R 1,000,000 to enable the provision of 6,000 Unilever hampers. Assembled at Trade Reach, each hamper contains a section of Unilever health and well-being products, together with a wash basic made from recycled materials. The hampers are bartered for trees and plastic bottles by Green-preneurs. In the last financial year, 6000 hampers were distributed to Green-preneurs across South Africa.
Gertrude Khanyile is just one of 5000 people in South Africa, who are changing their lives through greening and cleaning their communities, and building a more sustainable future for us all. If you’re interested in finding out more about supporting this initiative, or becoming a Green-preneur, visit: www.wildlands.co.za