Siyavuna Development Centre (2013 Drivers of Change Civil Society Award Recipient)
Director Diane Pieters said winning the Drivers of Change award “was really huge for the organisation and it was a big deal.” The immediate benefit to the organisation was that it strengthened their funding proposals, with the result that of seven funding proposals sent out after receiving the award, six were successful, with the seventh only not succeeding because the funder’s funding cycle was completed.
Winning the award has also spurred innovation in the organisation, motivating staff with the result that positive changes have been wrought. One of these is more effective farmer ownership. Where previously it was Siyavuna staff who drove to collection points to pick up fresh produce, it is now a farmer doing the collecting, providing positive proof to members that they are taking greater control of the value chain. This creates a sense (among farmers) that this really is ‘our co-op, our business’. Additionally, Farmers Associations have been started in three new areas since the award was announced, and farmers “are really producing, taking it seriously. With farmers becoming more adept and established, markets are also beginning to open up as co-ops move into a position where certain crops can be guaranteed. Thus larger restaurants are placing bulk orders while crops are still in the ground, said Pieters. While the aim is to have a dedicated Kumnandi fresh produce shop, a partner organisation (Total SA) have in the meantime offered free space and signage in one of their 24-hour retail shops.
Pieters said the award really cemented their relationship with partners Volkswagen and Total, and the office has been receiving “interesting phone calls” from resourced individuals offering their help. She said the farmers are really beginning to take their businesses seriously. “We’re seeing women find their voice and become assertive and make plans for themselves.”