SA: Pioneer Foods deepens Black Economic Empowerment

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa – AfricanBrains

One of the Government of South Africa’s main economic policies is the Black Economic Empowerment Act.

The policy is aimed at uplifting the historically disenfranchised black majority, who were marginalized during more than 300 years of colonial white rule and more than 40 years of apartheid (separate development) of the Nationalist Party government who came into power in 1948.

The segregationist Nats government had tried to outlaw black business during their tyrannical rule and when the African National Congress came into power in 1994 after a democratic election it immediately set to level the playing fields between the  privileged white minority group and their majority black poor counterparts.

Hence the idea of an economic empowerment program dedicated to the masses. Sadly though, after 18 years of ANC rule, only a few mainly politically connected have benefited from this arrangement. Research confirms that poverty has been on the increase while the elites continue to be wealthier by the day.

But now, another initiative out of previous attempts in reaching out to the many who are still economically dis-empowered gives hope that things could change.

An example of this is happening in the Western Cape province.

And it is an project by Pioneer Foods, one of South Africa’s leading food manufacturers, which has recently established an independent education and community trust as part of its Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment initiatives (BBBEE).

“The expanded empowerment scheme came into being when the Group issued some 10, 6 million listed shares to the Pioneer Foods Broad-Based BEE Trust (the PF BEE Trust). As part of the transaction, the Pioneer Foods Education and Community Trust (PFECT), has been formed to serve as the only beneficiary of the PF BEE Trust.

And the newly established trust is to receive 20% of all dividends declared on these shares.

André Hanekom, Managing Director of Pioneer Foods remarks: “Focusing mainly on education initiatives, the entity aims to uplift communities in the immediate surrounding areas of Pioneer Foods subsidiaries throughout South Africa.”

The aims of the Trust will be to assist in the provision of school buildings or equipment for public schools and educational institutions, as well as the provision of scholarships, bursaries and study loans.

“Over the past five years, Pioneer Foods has invested more than R76 million in numerous community upliftment projects, ranging from flood relief efforts and food security to education and sports development. This was through traditional Corparate Social Investment (CSI) and Enterprise Development funding.

Further, the Trust will also manage the CSI funds going forward.

“The Pioneer Foods Education and Community Trust will give further impetus to the Group’s broad based Black Economic Empowerment aims,” adds Hanekom.

The five trustees are Prof Eltie Links, Chairman of Doing Business in Africa (University of Stellenbosch Business School), Sharron Marco-Thyse, Chairperson of the SA Wine Industry Trust; Monde Mpongoshe, CEO of Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy; Leon Cronjé, Financial Director of Pioneer Foods; and Lulu Khumalo, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Executive for Pioneer Foods.

“The Trust will be based in Paarl, and managed by Ellen Odendaal, a chartered accountant whose portfolio includes managing the Group’s Enterprise Development projects.”