Lead Where You Are 


There is an old saying that credit should be given where/when it is due. Over the years that Magaliesburg Development Initiative (MDI) has been functioning, I have experienced that community work can be very complex and involve many people and instances to a greater or lesser extent in achieving a successful project. All deserve mention and credit when it is due. For example, my recent blog was about training learners at Bekker High School in aspects of plants’ nutritional needs and soil preparation to match those needs. In it, I acknowledged Nedbank Proud of My Town program (PoMT) as the sponsors of the training and thanked Harmony Gold Mine’s Mponeng project for the chilli plants whose roots the students were able to study. Those plants had been grown using recycled mine wastewater that the Mponeng project uses to develop a hydroponic orchard for the benefit of Carletonville’s community.

Mponeng Waste Water

Recycling Site

Bekker High School Water Purifying Site

Bekker High School

Bekker High School

Green House

The next step in the ‘chilli story’ was that Nedbank sent representatives from its Key West Branch to visit Bekker’s Agricultural Hub and look for areas in which the Hub and PoMT could co-operate to contribute to the economy and food security in the Hub’s 100km area of influence. As a result, Nedbank PoMT has sponsored the preparation of two greenhouses for winter vegetables and chillies. Many of Mponeng’s chilli plants will be transplanted into a greenhouse at the Bekker Hub, where the chilli plants should adapt well to the potable water produced at Bekker’s water treatment plant. The chillies at Mponeng and the Bekker Hub can be harvested from March to May and processed by Bekker’s Jeugskou or Consumer Science students into chilli-based products for sale under Bekker’s branding at the Bekker Farm Shop. MDI envisages that this will be a practical application of entrepreneurship in the growth and use of agricultural products.

This sort of completed growth, processing and production cycle (what is often referred to as a “circular economy”) is what Nedbank PoMT aims to achieve using its corporate social investment (CSI) funding to develop a community’s awareness of agricultural opportunities and food security. It is also an example of what a functional Agricultural Hub with an educational focus can achieve in the transfer of much needed knowledge and skills in our economy.

If the chilli story were to stop there, this would be a waste of an opportunity for sharing knowledge and experience via a wider discussion on responding to the emerging risk of food security in South Africa. Nedbank PoMT has agreed to fund a workshop organised and presented by Christelle Marais of Lucidum in May 2024. Lucidum leverages its extensive experience in governance, risk, ethics, compliance, and sustainability management  in large scale agriculture and forestry projects to demonstrate how corporates’ following the dual mandate of commercial viability and community transformation (i.e. combining strategy, sustainability, and CSI) to mitigate sustainability risk for corporates, communities, and individuals. Christelle has provided me with a wide range of pro bono support spanning two decades. This has ranged from briefings on the King Reports on Corporate Governance in South Africa that improved my governance knowledge to introductions to  the Council for Science and Industrial Research’s Green Book (www.greenbook.co.za) and access to workshops at various professional bodies, etc. She has been deeply involved in Community Social Governance and won awards for her work in various aspects of risk management. This incredible woman has been the inspiration for my promotion of the concept of #leadwhereyouare and it was she who identified the opportunity for MDI’s work for Nedbank PoMT to be a valuable source of information and experience for other players in community agricultural projects. Consequently, on 21 May 2024, 100+ CSI professionals, risk managers, and business leaders with an interest in the subject of food security will attend a workshop offered at the Bekker Hub to gain insights into this invaluable community sustainability work. In addition to the collaborative workshop, there will be a display area of produce created at the school and the opportunity for CSI professionals, risk managers, and business leaders to discuss the implementation of various business initiatives, including community food production projects with actual implementers and operators. Lucidum’s workshop will reinforce the Bekker Agricultural Hub’s position as the foremost school-based Agricultural Hub in Gauteng.

Back to my initial intention to give credit where it is due - thanks must be given to Bekker High School’s principal, Mr Alex Rademann, his SGB and multi-faceted staff for all their cooperation through the development of MDI’s’ ‘chilli story’. Thanks are also due to Nedbank PoMT for its financial and staff support; to Mponeng for allowing chillies to be grown using their recycled wastewater; to Ranyaka and Share for supporting the concept of Bekker Hub processing the chillies into a product; to Obaro for agricultural product expertise and support; to Lucidum for providing the expertise and human resources to bring risk managers and project funders to the school; and to all those behind the scenes people who have and will put their skills, labour and enthusiasm into ensuring that the chillies will grow at Bekker and the project will be the success we anticipate it will be.

That lengthy Vote of Thanks illustrates that, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an awful lot of differently skilled and resourced people and businesses to build the seed of a project into a widespread sustainable developmental practice for the good of community, province, and country. Young or old, rich or poor, MDI thanks all our supporters very much for enabling MDI to lead where we work.

Thank you to Harmony Gold Mponeng wastewater treatment site managed by the Institute For Technology and Society. The research and development project donated the plants for training at Bekker High School. 

These plants were grown on 100% recycled sewage water from Mponeng mine. These research and development project plants were for use in economic development and skills development projects.

Special Thanks to the following organizations' for their support