When the 16th anniversary and 5000 beneficiary milestone for Coronation Fund Manager's agricultural entrepreneurship initiative came up, it was the ideal opportunity to honour the entrepreneurial spirit and important contribution of South Africa's small-scale farmers. Almost two-thirds are women, who bear the brunt of feeding our nation and need all the support they can get. By hosting media at the Siyazama Community Garden in Khayelitsha, a group of women farmers whose small community garden have become a community lifeline, garnered enormous publicity and support, and were able to inspire others around South Africa to follow in their agri-entrepreneurial footsteps.
Coronation Fund Managers is a well-known financial brand, but its heart is in corporate social investment (CSI) and placing the spotlight on community heroes whose impact matters. When their joint AgriPlanner initiative with the SA Institute for Entrepreneurship (SAIE) turned 16, reaching the milestone of having empowered 5 000 emerging farmers, 65% of whom are women, we hosted a powerful event that shone a light on the engine of this nation – women farmers. Real women who are not just agricultural experts but mothers and activists for climate change, food security, poverty, access to land, entrepreneurship, education, and women empowerment.
The vital role of emerging farmers and their struggles was at the heart of the story. However, telling it in a credible, engaging way to seasoned and diverse journalists required extensive qualitative and quantitative preparation. SAIE contributed key information on the impact of entrepreneurial training for farmers, and especially vulnerable women farmers, to our media fact sheet and media release, but – vitally – they connected us to the women of the Siyazama Community Food Garden in Khayelitsha, who could add proud human faces to our story. Here we found our main spokesperson in township farmer and mother Nokwanda Ngqayi whose inspiring story could motivate other farmers around the country to pursue the noble vocation of agriculture.
We analysed our media pool to match angles to every kind of journalist, such as agriculture, education, community, women’s interest, business, entrepreneurship, news, and more. We prepared various media angles through desktop research, consulting news and academic reports, and StatsSA which tracked SA’s dwindling emerging farmers due to drought. SAIE shared that between 60% and 70% of all food was grown by small-time farmers, of which about 60% were women with dependants. To address poverty and food insecurity in SA, we needed women to shift from survivalism to successful semi-commercial farming.
We also interviewed Coronation’s CSI experts and studied their materials to gather facts and figures about the impact of their work, especially related to their Growing Entrepreneurs initiative and subsidiary AgriPlanner programme.
We assembled a story with the power to inspire.