It’s Women’s Month in South Africa, a time to focus on the incomparable role that women shoulder in our society and country as caregivers, businesswomen, volunteers, friends, and family. It’s also a time to shine a light on the many fantastic initiatives and projects that support women, and the companies and individuals involved.

One such company is the MTO Group, a circular economy business that has interests in forestry, agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and ecotourism, along with a thriving integrated training division.  It is also active in transformation and empowerment – of its employees and the communities in which it works.

Of the many initiatives MTO is involved in, the Game “Groundnuts” initiative is perhaps one of the most exemplary of an organisation’s approach to a 360-degree circle of life that also achieves several of the United Nations’ Development Goals.

Currently, 92 women-led households from the Game community near White River, Mpumalanga, have planted groundnuts between the rows of young Eucalyptus trees on 37 hectares of MTO’s Lowveld plantation.

Aside from availing the land and welcoming the women to plant their crops free of charge, MTO has also assisted the women in finding a market for their produce, which has resulted in a profitable partnership with a peanut butter manufacturer.

Recognising that to be sustainable the women required business knowledge, MTO formed a five-year partnership with SEDA and have now put 42 of the women through a business financial management skills course that is already bearing fruit.  More women, and further courses are already in the pipeline and as the harvests grow, there are plans to create a branded product of their own.

Itumeleng Langeni, MTO’s Chief Stakeholder Relations officer is committed to driving the company’s agenda in uplifting and enriching the lives of the communities around the company’s business locations. Of this project, she says: “Working with a company for whom holistic transformation is an action and an imperative, not words on a piece of paper, means that we are given the license to really make an impact on the lives of the people we interact with and even depend upon.  The Game Groundnuts initiative exemplifies MTO’s commitment to making this happen.

“It is a symbiotic relationship between all parties; the women and their families and the community, between them and the company and vice versa, as well as between the groundnuts and the eucalyptus saplings themselves.  Everyone works together for the benefit of the whole and it has been incredible watching the project evolve and take on a life of its own.”

MTO’s stance in creating sustainable communities ensures that the women (who range in age from teenagers to grandmothers), have an income that can support the people they look after, whilst having the prospect for further growth and development.  It also ensures that MTO’s plantations, which are a further lifeline for the surrounding communities, are protected and enriched.

The MTO Game Groundnuts initiative is a humble lesson in synergistic success where from the seeds of an idea, a tree is grown and then an entire forest of achievements.

Please see a powerful video story of the Groundnuts initiative here, a celebration of women’s endurance and entrepreneurial spirit.

Source: MTO Group