Collaboration boosts business growth for black-owned enterprises

AFRIKAANS VERSION FOLLOWS AFTER ENGLISH

The South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) took the first step in securing a sustainable future for black-owned enterprises.

The signing of a lease agreement with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) secures space in the Nietvoorbij Cellar Complex for the development of a first-of-its-kind brand home for black-owned enterprises.

“It is important to explore opportunities for small and medium businesses using the existing assets and infrastructure of Public Entities (and other government institutions). The agreement is a prime example of what can be accomplish by thinking ‘out-of-the-box’ and a partnership between the wine industry and the ARC shows what can be done,” says Ms Joyene Isaacs, chairperson of the ARC Council.

“The upgrade of the Nietvoorbij Cellar Complex presented a valuable opportunity for SAWITU and the ARC to work together to help in the effective and accelerated transformation of the wine industry through training, research, and capacity development.  We are indeed very excited to embark on this historic journey, share knowledge and learn from one another – both to enable growth within the wine industry and to benefit the broader South African society.”

“These types of initiatives will drive transformation, enterprise development and skills development targets in the wine industry,” says Tshililo Ramabulana, chairperson of SAWITU.

The Wine tasting and Cellar Complex was recently refurbished and transformed into a modern, multi-functional facility which echoes SAWITU’s vision for the brand home.  Although housed on the same premises, the brand home will have a unique ethos and culture that resonate with the entrepreneurs who will be utilising this facility.

“The majority of black-owned wine brands and entrepreneurs don’t have a place to call their own and that resembles their identity. By collaborating with the ARC, SAWITU is creating that space for them”, says Wendy Petersen, Operations Manager.

Where two worlds meet

“What attracted us most about the venue, is its location”, says Ms Petersen.  Stellenbosch is a popular tourist town and well known for its established wine route and history.  This gives our emerging wine brands and entrepreneurs a greater business advantage, anchors them in an agri-tourism environment and making them part of the South African wine industry history.

The historic building in which the new brand home will be located is surrounded by beautiful vineyards and overlooks the local community and nearby township, displaying two worlds so different, yet co-existing in the same space.

Laying the foundation

“We believe that the success of this initiative is built on a firm foundation”, says Ms Petersen.  “It was also very important that we manage the expectations of the entrepreneurs and that we all understand the targets and deliverables”.

SAWITU spent the last two years sourcing the most suitable suppliers and service providers and finalised agreements with them.  The organisation took time to clarify roles and responsibilities of all the role players, determined performance indicators and measurable targets and assessed the entrepreneurs who will be benefitting from the initial phase of this business model.

Ms Petersen concludes “There is still a lot of work to be done before the brands can move in and start trading, but we are excited to have come this far and look forward to launching the next phase of development.” This initiative is a key strategic game changer towards empowerment of the black owned brands in the wine industry.

Visit our website www.witu.co.za for more information about SAWITU and follow us on Facebook (@WITURSA), Twitter (@witu_sa) or LinkedIn (SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit).

Photo caption:

The building at the ARC Nietvoorbij campus that will be the new home for black-owned enterprises.

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Issued by the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit.

About the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit

 The SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit is a centre of Excellence in the SA Wine Industry focusing on the empowering and advancing of black stakeholders across the entire wine and brandy value chain.

For more information, contact Wendy Petersen, Operations Manager, at info@witu.co.za or visit the SAWITU website at www.witu.co.za

 About the Agricultural Research Council

The Agricultural Research Council is a premier science institution that conducts research with partners, develops human capital and fosters innovation in support of the agricultural sector. For more information visit the ARC website at: www.arc.agric.za.

 

Samewerking versterk besigheidsgroei vir ondernemings in swart besit

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Wynindustrie Transformasie-eenheid (SAWITU) het die eerste stap geneem om ‘n volhoubare toekoms vir ondernemings in swart besit te verseker.

Die ondertekening van ‘n huurooreenkoms met die Landbounavorsingsraad (LNR) verseker ruimte in die Nietvoorbij Kelderkompleks vir die ontwikkeling van ‘n eerste-van-sy-soort handelsmerktuiste vir ondernemings in swart besit.

Dis belangrik om geleenthede vir klein en medium ondernemings te ondersoek deur die bestaande bates en infrastruktuur van openbare entiteite (en ander staatsinstellings) te gebruik.

Volgens die voorsitter van die LNR-raad, Me Joyene Isaacs, is die ooreenkoms ‘n uitstekende voorbeeld van wat bereik kan word deur ‘buite-die-boks’ te dink en ‘n vennootskap tussen die wynbedryf en die LNR wys wat gedoen kan word.

“Die opgradering van die Nietvoorbij Kelderkompleks het ‘n waardevolle geleentheid vir SAWITU en die LNR gebied om saam te werk om te help met die effektiewe en versnelde transformasie van die wynbedryf deur opleiding, navorsing en kapasiteitsontwikkeling.  Ons is inderdaad baie opgewonde om hierdie historiese reis te onderneem, kennis te deel en van mekaar te leer – om beide groei in die wynbedryf moontlik te maak en om die breër Suid-Afrikaanse samelewing te bevoordeel”, sê me Isaacs.

“Hierdie tipe inisiatiewe sal transformasie, ondernemingsontwikkeling en vaardigheidsontwikkelingsteikens in die wynindustrie dryf,” sê Tshililo Ramabulana, voorsitter van SAWITU.

Die wynproe- en kelderkompleks is onlangs opgeknap en omskep in ‘n moderne, multifunksionele fasiliteit wat SAWITU se visie vir die handelsmerktuiste eggo.  Alhoewel dit op dieselfde perseel gehuisves word, sal die handelsmerktuiste ‘n unieke etos en kultuur hê wat met die entrepreneurs wat hierdie fasiliteit sal gebruik, resoneer.

Die meerderheid wynhandelsmerke en entrepreneurs in swart besit het nie ‘n plek om hul eie te noem en ‘n plek wat hul identiteit weerspieël nie.  Deur samewerking met die LNR, skep SAWITU daardie ruimte vir hulle,” sê Wendy Petersen, Operasionele Bestuurder.

Waar twee wêrelde ontmoet

“Wat ons die meeste tot die lokaal aangetrek het, is die ligging,” sê me Petersen.  Stellenbosch is ‘n gewilde toeristedorp en is bekend vir sy gevestigde wynroete en geskiedenis.  Dit gee ons opkomende wynhandelsmerke en entrepreneurs ‘n groter besigheidsvoordeel, anker hulle in ‘n agritoerisme-omgewing en maak hulle deel van die Suid-Afrikaanse wynbedryf se geskiedenis.

Die historiese gebou waarin die nuwe handelsmerktuiste geleë sal wees, word omring deur pragtige wingerde en kyk uit oor die plaaslike gemeenskap en nabygeleë nedersetting (township). Dit vertoon twee wêrelde wat so verskillend is, tog bestaan dit in dieselfde ruimte.

Die fondament is gelê

”Ons glo dat die sukses van hierdie inisiatief op ‘n stewige grondslag gebou is,” sê me Petersen.  “Dit was ook baie belangrik dat ons die verwagtinge van die entrepreneurs bestuur en dat ons almal die teikens en aflewerings verstaan.”

SAWITU het die afgelope twee jaar die mees geskikste verskaffers en diensverskaffers gewerf en ooreenkomste is met hulle gefinaliseer.

Die organisasie het tyd geneem om die rolle en verantwoordelikhede van al die rolspelers uit te klaar, prestasieaanwysers en meetbare teikens vas te stel en om die entrepreneurs wat voordeel sal trek uit die aanvanklike fase van hierdie sakemodel, te asseseer.

Me Petersen sluit af “Daar is nog baie werk wat gedoen moet word voordat die handelsmerke kan intrek en begin handel dryf, maar ons is opgewonde om so ver te kon kom en sien uit daarna om die volgende ontwikkelingsfase te loods.”  Hierdie inisiatief vervul ‘n sleutel belangrike rol om die speelveld van bemagtiging vir handelsmerke in swart besit in die wynbedryf te verander.

Besoek ons webwerf www.witu.co.za vir meer inligting oor SAWITU en volg ons op Facebook (@WITURSA), Twitter (@witu_sa) of LinkedIn (SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit).

Foto onderskrif

Die gebou by die LNR Nietvoorbij kampus wat die nuwe tuise vir handelsmerke in swart besit gaan wees.

EINDE

Uitgereik deur die Suid-Afrikaanse Wynindustrie Transformasie-eenheid.

Meer oor die SA Wynindustrie Transformasie-eenheid

 Die SA Wynindustrie Transformasie-eenheid is ‘n sentrum van uitnemendeid in die Suid-Afrikaanse wynbedryf wat fokus op die bemagtiging en bevordering van swart rolspelers oor die hele wyn- en brandewyn waardeketting.

Vir meer inligting, kontak Wendy Petersen, Operasionele Bestuurder, by info@witu.co.za of besoek die SAWITU webwerf by www.witu.co.za

Meer oor die Landbounavorsingsraad

Die Landbounavorsingsraad is ‘n leidende wetenskapinstelling wat navorsing met vennote doen, menslike kapitaal ontwikkel en innovasie ter ondersteuning van die landbousektor bevorder.  Vir meer inligting besoek die LNR-webwerf by www.arc.agric.za

 

Month of Love – Malmsey and Diale Rangaka

“in for a penny, in for a pound“

Malmsey and Diale Rangaka, owners of M’Hudi Wines, have taken their marriage vows to heart and incorporated it into their business lives. They do not see their personal lives as separate but rather embrace their togetherness in life. The two have been married for 46 years and have been generating their own income for the last 36 years.

They flourish in their different roles at M’Hudi.  Malmsey is the CEO and handles finances, while Diale oversees the farm management, Human Resources, Public Relations and Marketing.

Diale describes Malmsey as warrior queen, Nzhinga, a historical Royal from the Matamba people of present-day Angola.  Queen Nzhinga fought against the encroachment of the Portuguese’s attempt to control the slave trade in South West Africa and is remembered for her intellect, wisdom and brilliant military tactics. Says Diale, “Malmsey is a fiercely protective matriarch!”.

Malmsey has leant that Diale has a strong commitment to the economic emancipation of South Africa’s black people and works to see our country attain and maintain its economic leadership on the African continent.

Bringing their different strengths to their relationship has been their recipe for success. Malmsey is methodical, ensuring efficient business operations while providing a high-quality product. Diale admires Malmsey’s compassion, fortitude, and resilience.

Diale can make Malmsey laugh even in the most serious of circumstances but being comical or “Pathologically unserious” as Malmsey describes him does not detract from his ability to being a strong researcher and marketing expert.

Whenever Malmsey and Diale experience challenges in their business, they always remember that family comes first.  They are building a legacy for their family, which is much more important and rewarding than just making profits.

Their favourite quote for the month of love is one from Paul Valery, “Love is being stupid together” and their advice for any couple is to work on staying in love and building memories together.

Month of Love – Bunty and Wahed Khan

“we dream together”

Bunty and Wahed Khan dreamed of starting their own business when they retire from corporate life, but this came earlier than expected.  When Wahed was transferred to Cape Town, Bunty put her career on hold to settle their family.

Surrounded by the beauty of the Western Cape, the Winelands, with its diverse people inspired them to venture into wine. The dream of creating a product that could be shared with the world is how Cape Dreams came to life!

Bunty started the company in 2008 with Wahed joining her full time 4 years later.  They understood that it would take many years of immense dedication and hard work to build their business into an internationally recognized brand, but their commitment and support from family made them push through.

Bunty and Wahed work closely together by sharing responsibilities and always consulting about what’s going on across the business.  Their strategic planning is done jointly, but Bunty is responsible for legal matters, marketing, travel and IT while Wahed takes care of finance and admin. Each develops their own set of customers.

The most important thing they learned about each other is that they have different ways of looking at life, but their shared core values and beliefs make their relationship work.  Bunty and Wahed’s commitment to each other helps them to face the many challenges and finding solutions to take their dream forward.

The two have quite different strengths in the business.  While Wahed is pragmatic, and focussed on numbers, Bunty is creative, bubbling with ideas, but gets things done and is a tough negotiator!

Always enjoying each other’s company, they maintain a healthy balance between working hard and spending time together and with their family.   They have a challenging Chess league going now that they have more time during lockdown!

What Wahed admires most is Bunty’s fun-loving, carefree and loving personality.  She has a clear set of values and is the main pillar of strength for the family. Bunty admires Wahed for his integrity and humility.  He is generous, kind, patient and selfless and gives her the confidence to achieve anything.

Their advice to other couples working together or thinking of starting a business together is:

Dream together – you may be different, but you can have the same dream

Respect each other, listen to each other and never let the business impact on your love for each other.

There will always be unexpected challenges so keep your focus on WHAT is right rather than WHO is wrong!

The couple have been married for 32 years and their favourite quote for the month of love is “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along!” – Rumi

Month of Love – Malcolm and Cheryl Green

“together is our favourite place to be”

For Malcolm and Cheryl Green of La RicMal Wines, being in business together comes naturally, as both stem from entrepreneurial parents.

The couple agrees that although it was a very rough road in business in the early years and uncertainties always existed, the reward came in that humble meal they shared and from putting that plate on the table together!

Being entrepreneurs from an early age, they share a vision and drive for independence and unconventionality and are motivated by their faith and common vision for success.

Like the true definition of the “yin yang” Malcolm and Cheryl complement each other in the business and seamlessly fit into the roles that is expected at the time. Individually and as a team, they share their traits on different functional levels of decision making, negotiating and steering the business forward.

They learned that sharing different viewpoints on the same situation allows them to be critical and complimentary at the same time – and that a good laugh always lightens any situation!

The comfortable humor between them comes through when they each claim, with a sweet smile, that their strength lies in having each other’s back, like the saying goes “behind every successful man/women….”

Malcolm and Cheryl are childhood sweethearts who met in their teens.  Reminded that this is the month of love, they fondly remember getting married in the Emmanuel Cathedral in Kwazulu-Natal 42 years ago!  Their journey together taught them that applying the principles of matrimony to any business is a winning recipe. Their relationship is built on love, commitment, faithfulness, humility, patience, time (for each other), honesty, trust, communication and selflessness.

Month of Love – Meet Niklaas and Alfonsina Nkosi

“I’m lost without her…”

If there is one thing that life has taught us, is that time is precious and we much treasure our loved ones while we have the chance. 

For Niklaas Nkosi, his precious time with his dear wife Alfonsina came to an abrupt end when she suddenly passed away in December last year.

Niklaas remembers her as a strong woman who was very organized, running their household smoothly despite her full-time job.  But she made sure Niklaas did his part in the house.  In the evenings when they got home, the two would do the washing together.  Niklaas loved Alfonsina’s cooking – it’s the one thing he misses the most!

Sy kon soms lekker skel” (she sometimes scolded him) he says with a little giggle, “then I know I have to keep in line. But she always wanted what was best for me.”

She was a loving wife and caring mom for their two sons and left a huge void in their lives.  “I’m lost without her….I can’t explain how I feel…I miss her so much!”

The couple met in the Eastern Cape and was married for 16 years.  After Niklaas came to the Western Cape to find work, he went back to fetch Alfonsina.  “Ek het haar daar gaan loop haal” (I went to fetch her)

Niklaas, a Thokozani shareholder, works in the vineyards at Diemersfontein for the past 14 years.  Alfonsina joined the company 9 years ago, first as a casual worker and was later permanently employed.  The couple worked together in harmony and Niklaas was motivated by his wife’s calm demeaner and dedication to her work.

He finds it very difficult without her at work and at home but finds comfort in the beautiful memories she left behind.

WITU efforts assisting those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ever mindful of the economic hardship occasioned by the drawn-out Covid-19 Pandemic, the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) has provided a raft of support measures to the wine industry, in which it operates. Newly appointed Board Chair, Mr. Tshililo  Ramabulana committed SAWITU’s efforts and resources to a wide-reaching campaign to support, not only businesses in the sector, but farmworkers as well.

“Supporting our community is central to our agenda and with many of them falling on hard times, we had to step up and rise to the challenge,” said Ramabulana.

Over the past six months, SAWITU provided emergency Covid-19 relief to 15 qualifying Black-owned wine enterprises to the tune of R1.35m. In addition, 15 Black-owned farms received emergency relief totaling R450 000 over the next three months.

“Acutely aware of the importance of the farmworker in the value chain and the fact that many of them went unpaid for a considerable period of time, we rallied to the cry and provided more than R500 000 in support to farmworkers and farmworker communities in the past six months,” said SAWITU’s Transformation Operations Manager Wendy Petersen.

The majority of those affected and assisted by SAWITU were unemployed during the period and received no State support. “These communities were already mired in poverty, and with the unemployment caused by the pandemic, we took a decision to provide basic food security at the least,” added Petersen.

SAWITU worked closely with NPO’s in the various regions to ensure that the most vulnerable were identified. The relief efforts targeted the neediest of communities and spread across Wellington, Porterville, Saron, Montague, Rawsonville, Worcester and Robertson.

“This is the first round of our ongoing support to the industry and their communities and we will make even more effort to assist during these unprecedented economic hardships,” said Ramabulana.

Wendy Petersen, the Operations Manager of SAWITU has overseen and ensured that the relief efforts were recorded and accountable measures were in place.

Woman’s Month – Katy September

“With God in one hand, anything is possible,” says Katy September, reflecting on a life in which the hard knocks were overcome with faith and a will to succeed.

The recounting of her life is a veritable reflection of the challenges most female farmworkers encounter and a lesson in overcoming them. Her dream of joining the navy was thwarted early on in life, and like many young girls in the Cape winelands, she was forced to join her parents as farmworkers.

“Growing up on the Kromme Rhee Farm, I used to swim in the dams and developed a love for the water. In my final school year, I applied to join the SA Navy, in order to chart a new path for women of colour from the winelands,” she says nostalgically.

However, this dream was to be shattered as the young Katy fell pregnant and was forced into a young motherhood and a menial job on the neighbouring Simonsig Wine Estate.

“I was my grandmother’s child and it was a big disappointment to her and to my parents when this happened. However, my parents stood by me throughout my life and supported me and my children in whatever way they could,” she reflects with gratitude.

She was engaged for a short while, but on realising that the man she was to marry was also engaged to another, she threw her engagement ring into the lake, thus symbolically drowning her dream of joining the navy and of a happily married life.

“Although that hurt me deeply, I decided to make the most of my life and fend for my daughter. I am glad I am a woman. I’m the only one in my name and there is no one else like me,” she says, steadfastly.

Being raised by her grandmother, Katy developed a keen sense of keeping a clean house and to this day is fastidious. “I take pride and time in making sure my house is spotless, and have thankfully handed this down from my grandmother to my two daughters too.”

With the help of her parents, she got her first job in 1990 cleaning the cellar at Simonsig and scrubbing the bottling apparatus and plastic flexicans used to press grapes. It was a hard toil for which she was paid R45 per week. Her career started at the beginning of the bottling process and today she works in labelling and packaging. Katy’s love for her work and her fellow colleagues is what drives and motivates her.

She worked diligently in the cellar for more than a decade and represented the workers on the estate as their Shop Steward. In 2005, being acutely aware of the challenges faced by farmworkers in the winelands, she joined the Sikhula Sonke Trade Union. Sikhula Sonke is a women-led, independent farmworkers union. Its focus includes issues such as labour rights, domestic violence, food insecurity and alcohol abuse.

“I joined Sikhula Sonke as a recruiter and worked tirelessly building the subscriber base to make it a voice of the farmworkers in general and women in particular,” she says, proudly.

The campaigning involved lots of weary travel, with her three young daughters in tow. “I used to go to neighbouring farms and to winelands towns on my recruitment campaigns and was often forced to sleep over so as to maximise the impact of the recruitment campaign.”

In growing Sikhula Sonke, Katy rose steadily through the ranks to become its President. In her leadership role, she assisted in growing the membership to more than 5000 employed and unemployed workers including those living on farms in Stellenbosch, Grabouw, Villiersdorp, Franschhoek, Ceres, Rawsonville, Paarl and Wellington.

Reflecting on her role as a unionist, Katy recalls a campaign in 2009 as a highlight. “We launched a campaign in 2009 to boycott the National General Election. It was the No Land! No House! No Vote! Campaign,” she recalls, noting with regret that not much has changed regarding the circumstances of the farmworkers since.

Sikhula Sonke eventually folded and in 2017 Katy, together with other women labour activists launched the Society Development Trade Union, which today represents more than 4500 farmworkers in the Cape Winelands. Like many other union leaders in the industry, Katy was ‘marked’ and was often called to book for the most trivial of reasons, a battle she has had to contend with all her working life.

“Apartheid is still very much alive in the wine industry. Ironically, the previous generation of wine farmers were a little more caring towards their workers. I know this may sound like a generalisation, but the current crop of farmers is arrogant and seem to entrench the ‘ons en julle baasmanskap’. The ‘ou baas’ has been replaced by the ‘klein baas’.”

It was her former employer who enrolled her membership and paid her subscription for Women in Wine. Women in Wine was established and founded in 2006 by a group of twenty women, Katy being one of them. All of the members have backgrounds in the wine industry that had a common dream – giving women, especially farm workers and their families, a share in the industry.

Women in Wine only sources wine from farms that comply with socio-economic legislation with specific reference to ethical and environmental practices, employment conditions, skills development and training, as well as those that address aspects of Black Economic Empowerment.

Today, Women in Wine has a membership in excess of 200. This opportunity afforded Katy her first trip on board an aeroplane, and though it was a short flight to Kimberly, she remembers vividly the trepidation with which she boarded the flight. She was also exposed for the first time to wine tasting and the different cultivars, a lesson not many farmworkers are afforded. Also, it was her first experience in receiving a dividend and the ability to engage with annual financial statements, reflecting the real empowerment of her participation.

Katy is a natural mentor to younger women she comes into contact with. “We were raised in a community where we look out for each other. I often counsel young women and girls as if they are my own children.”

In defining her driving force, Katy is resolute that it is her three daughters, whom she raised single-handedly. “I live for my family and want to ensure that they have a better life than I did. Hopefully to create some means that could become the generational wealth we all dream of creating.”

– Nirode Bramdaw, African Sun Media

Woman’s Month – Jo-Anne Mettler

Jo-Anne Mettler exudes a charm, elegance and eloquence that is refl ective of her accomplished career, despite being forced to overcome challenges with grace.

Born in Cape Town, her family relocated to Zambia when Jo-Anne was just three, the eldest of four siblings. “It was shortly after Zambia’s independence and my Dad took advantage of a career opportunity and set the family into a self-imposed exile,” says Jo-Anne.

Reflecting on her early life in Zambia, Jo-Anne is grateful that her Dad took that very bold decision affording the family the right not to be deemed second-class citizens in the land of their birth.

“I was raised in a wonderfully cosmopolitan environment, where I had friends of every colour and nationality. My best friend was a Polish neighbour, Eva, whom I taught to speak English. She is still a friend and a lecturer at Cambridge University. I didn’t do too badly,” she says with
a broad, dimpled smile.

Even Afrikaners, who would not give the family the time of day back in South Africa, became fi rm friends. Whilst learning English and French at school, her battles with Afrikaans was just beginning. “My parents both spoke Afrikaans and my Dad was a worshipper in the Dutch Reformed Church, which also had a presence in Zambia. So, I had to do my catechism in Afrikaans from an English Bible.”

Her political consciousness grew with the family’s frequent interactions with ANC cadres in exile in Lusaka.

On completion of her A-Levels, young Jo-Anne opted to study at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, but the NGK dominee whispered in her father’s ear that sending her to the bastion of English academia was probably not the best idea. So instead she returned to Cape Town and enrolled for a degree in social work at the University of Western Cape. “Here however, the students were all Brown and the lecturers mostly white, and Afrikaans speaking. I remember asking a question in class and being told that I must go back to America by the Afrikaner lecturer,” she says frowning.

Whilst on a visit to Cape Town her father reasoned that if she wanted to make a difference in the lives of those she sought to uplift, that it would be most appropriate to do it in their mother tongue. A determined Jo-Anne persevered and armed with a Tweetalige Woordeboek and her textbooks, she soldiered on.

“Those were very politically charged days at UWC and I joined in the student protests, simply for the fact that apartheid went against my moral compass.”

It was whilst at UWC that Jo-Anne was interviewed for a bursary at KWV and was one of four students successful in landing the coveted bursary.

“Unfortunately, my Dad passed at the age of 50 whilst I was at University and the State confi scated his life savings, forcing my young Mom to fend for the family single-handedly. The bursary could not have come at a better time,” she says.

As was tradition at KWV, recipients of bursaries were hosted at an annual soiree with top management at the company’s stately headquarters in Paarl. “I remember entering those hallowed portals as a young girl and being taken by the fi ne woodwork, the art and décor, coupled with the
crystal glass and china and immediately fell in love with the surrounds. I love the fi ner things in life,” she smiles.

On completion of her studies, Jo-Anne was offered a position of Public Relations Offi cer at KWV, working in the Coloured Team. Here the Coloured employees were not allowed to use the cafeteria, and dare not use the tennis courts or pool, which was only opened to employeesof colour in 2002.

“I remember there was always a ‘ons en julle’ corporate culture and the Afrikaners even took umbrage if some of us became friends with our white colleagues. When I announced my intention to be married, an Afrikaner colleague asked how many children I have as it is Coloured culture to have children prior to marriage.”

It was corporate policy at KWV that the Public Relations staff were all to be single, so that they were able to travel on wine shows. So, her career in wine ended abruptly after five years.

She then sought employment at Truworths, successfully opening their Wellington store in 1990. She rose steadily through the ranks eventually to be promoted to the Adderley Street fl agship store. However, a criminal incident on a train back to her home in Wellington brought her career infashion to a head.

She returned to her love for the wine industry, being re-employed at KWV as cellar tour manager, where her love for the educational aspects of the industry took root. This led to a natural career progression into the Cape Wine Academy where she took charge of their Senior Kelderwerkers Programme and their Wine Ambassadors Course.

“I was a part of the initial fact-fi nding mission to Beaune and Paris and our recommendations led to the implementation of a programme which I am proud is still running today,” she recalls. The bi-lateral programme enables cellar personnel to experience a harvest in France and fast-track their winemaking knowledge and promotion potential despite not necessarily having formal viticulture and oenology training. “I consider the coming to fruition of this programme as one of my wine industry career highlights.”

From here she was to move to L’Ormarins Wine Estate and the Anthonij Rupert Wine range. Here she took charge of the estate, which was neglected after the unfortunate accident that claimed the life of Anthonij Rupert, putting her efforts towards re-establishing it as a leader in the wine and hospitality industry.

Whilst here she served two terms on the Annual SAA Wine Selection Panel and one term on the Diners Club Young Winemakers of the Year panel, serving alongside national and global wine afi cionados.

An illustrious career spanning 18 years with the Rupert Family, during which time she was thrilled to have met and hosted royalty and superstars at the estate, came to a close at the end of 2019, bowing out gracefully from a career in the wine industry spanning more than 30 years.

Looking back at her life’s journey, she says that there is much more work to be done. “We have to make much more effort to respect the role that the farmworkers play in the value chain. They are the backbone of the industry and play an equal, if not more vital, role as winemakers and
vintners.

“The access to the industry by women of colour needs to be addressed, because diversity is not a nice-to-have, it is a necessity that brings rewards for everyone involved. The narrative that many of us had to contend with is that if you are a woman of colour and successful, you’re labelled opportunistic, whilst the younger white colleagues are hailed as being ambitious. This must change. We must persevere,” she concludes, adding that she still has much work to do in working on the transformation agenda that is so critical right now.

– Nirode Bramdaw, African Sun Media

Woman’s Month – Joyene Isaacs

“I am an African, I’m an agriculturalist and I’m a female African Agriculturalist living my passion,” says Joyene Isaacs, chairperson of the Agricultural Research Council and not only one of the longest serving Heads of Department of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, but also in the agricultural sector as a whole.

Looking back on her almost two-decade role at the helm of agriculture in the province, in which time she had the singular honour of consistently receiving unqualifi ed audits, Isaacs says, “I just did my job. If everyone just did their jobs, and did them properly, our country would be much better off.”

Growing up in the small rural village of Jamestown, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, she spent many hours attending to agricultural chores on her grandparents’ farm. Completing her high schooling at Lückhoff Senior Secondary in Stellenbosch, Isaacs applied to study Microbiology at Stellenbosch University and despite her excellent matriculation results, due to apartheid legislation, she was denied study.This did not deter the young Isaacs, who opted to study a Bachelor of Science in Plant Pathology and Plant Protection at the University of Western Cape. With a bursary from the then Coloured Affairs, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree, majoring in Plant Pathology. Her first formal employment was to be at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Institute and then at Unifruco Research Services. “The turning point of my career came with an opportunity to work with resource-limited farmers in KwaZulu-Natal in 1991.” Here she worked through the University of Zululand’s Centre for Agricultural Research and Development. “It was during this time that I realised my true passion for agriculture and development.”

After two years in the post, Isaacs was offered an opportunity to return home and to her alma mater to work with grassroots agricultural projects at an NGO housed at the University of Western Cape. Following a three-year stint in the role, she joined the Agricultural Research Council, again working with resource-limited farmers.

Her career at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture began in 2002 where she was fully able to explore her passion for human capital development, empowerment and upliftment as well as policy interpretation and implementation. “I was thrilled at the opportunity as the Department is involved in a number of initiatives that are geared towards ensuring sustainability of the agricultural sector.”

Rising through the ranks rapidly, her fi rst role was Director of Farmer Settlement and Farmer Support and Development. Here she increased the budget 900% from R7 million to R70 million over four years and the staff capacity from 7 to 180. In 2005, she was appointed Acting Head of Department and subsequently Head of Department managing close on 1000 employees, 100 interns and 400 students; a role she was to excel in until her retirement in March 2020.

It was during this tenure that she established the Wine Industry Transformation Unit, which she served as Chairperson until her retirement. Under Isaacs’ leadership, the Department pursued the commodity approach, a partnership arrangement with Black farmers and the private sector and has supported scores of projects in wine grapes, fruit, table greens, grains, vegetables, seeds, animals and aquaculture.

Acutely aware of the wellbeing of the farmworker, Isaacs implemented the Farmworker Development Programme. “Farmworkers are often seen in a negative light and this perception is exacerbated by some urbanites who consider themselves superior. It was therefore time to tell the farmworker story in all its complex and delightful facets and to share the diversity, tenacity and inventiveness of the farmworkers and producers,” says Isaacs.

To bolster this campaign and to celebrate excellence in the sector, she implemented the Cape Farmworker of the Year competition, ensuring widespread participation from the 16 regions across the province from a diverse range of farming enterprises.

“Human capital development is also a value chain – a human value chain – and within the agricultural sector’s context, the need to orientate children from an early age to the noble professions available starts at primary school level. Without the investment in our youth, the sector cannot be sustained long-term, and the ultimate delivery of human capital development is without a doubt a skilled, professional and committed person working in the agricultural sector,” says Isaacs.

To give expression to this ideal, Isaacs implemented the Agricultural Partnership for Rural Youth Development focusing on farmworker children especially in identifi ed areas of Eden, Drakenstein, Overstrand and Witzenburg. “The poor results in maths and science, or absence of these subjects remain challenging. So we implemented the re-writing of these subjects with tuition provided for the interns.”

“Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy. Without a vibrant agricultural sector, there is no guarantee of food security,” she adds.

While overhauling the landscape externally, Isaacs was managing her equity agenda within her own department and transformed the majority male staff complement working towards at least 50% female employees and also accommodated persons with disabilities within its ranks.

“By no means was this an endeavour to be tackled alone. And most of the success stories with the Department showcase the different roles and responsibilities, different organisations and individuals took on to realise the success we all achieved. Again, it proves that doing things, managing problems, challenges, technical barriers and so on together, we can achieve better results.”

“Agriculture is my passion. It, in a sense, defi nes me.” From a small rural town, to the Head of Agriculture in the Province, Isaacs has used the opportunities afforded her to explore and showcase the many facets of agriculture. Looking back at her almost four-decade long tenure in agriculture, Isaacs says, “I have found two wonderful quotes to sum up myself and agriculture.”

“You only have control over three things in your life – the thoughts you think, the images you visualise and the actions you take. How you use these three things determines everything you experience,” said Jack Canfi eld.

“Research shows that a high IQ, qualifi cations and work experience are not essential for success. The single most important ingredient to success is self-motivation,” said Jack Chen.

“I feel that these two quotes defi ne me and what I do,” she concludes.

– Nirode Bramdaw, African Sun Media

Woman’s Month – Margaret Newman

If there is to be a doyenne of the South African wine industry, Margaret Newman is it. The sprightly 90-year-old’s life is a veritable reflection of the metamorphosis of the sector, as it is of the challenges faced by women in general, and women of colour in particular. Her parents and siblings played a leading role in the local Holy Trinity Anglican Church, school and the wider Paarl community. “I am a woman of great faith,” says Margaret, ascribing her peaceful, cheerful demeanour to her longevity. Living alone in her lovely garden cottage in a Cape Town suburb, she is proudly independent. “I drive, cook, clean, scrub, even sweep the street outside my home,” says the impeccably mannered nonagenarian.

Eschewing the culture of entitlement that has become commonplace in contemporary society, she adds, “I don’t wait for government to do things for me. I have two hands and two feet, and am quite capable of looking after myself.” A statement that is telling of her life’s journey and her ability to raise herself by her own bootstraps through dint of hard work, creativity and perseverance. Born into a large family in Die Ou Tuin in Paarl, the young Margaret was particularly keen on ballet and recalls with fondness her solit train trips into Cape Town at the age of 12 to attend dance class. “My Mom gave me instructions of how to get to the station and the number of stations I will have to pass before getting to Cape Town, which she said was the final destination and where I should get off.” It is perhaps this lesson in fearless independence learnt at a tender age that was to shape the rest of her life’s journey. The highlight of her dance career was performing for Queen Elizabeth II, on her visit to Cape Town, sharing the stage with the celebrated Johaar Mosaval, the District Six-born dancer who went on to become Senior Principal Dancer of the Royal Dance Academy.

Margaret went on to obtain her junior certificate, followed by a teaching diploma and commenced her working life as a teacher at the age of 17. “I taught arithmetic, geography, history and physical training in a career spanning 10 years,” she recalls. She left teaching and married a
medical practitioner, and at odd times assisted in the surgery while raising three children. However, this union was to be ended after a decade and Margaret retained custody and the family home, but had to fend for herself and her young family financially single-handedly. Hoping to
return to teaching, and with changes to the curricula, she enrolled for further studies and was fondly called “Mother” by her classmates, who were half her age. A year-long stint at Athlone High in Cape Town was however to be ended with her entrée into the wine industry.

She approached Godfrey de Bruyn, whom she knew through her other community activities, for a position at the Ko-operatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging or KWV, to play a role in wine education and uplifting the community. As a result, she was offered a position as senior information officer, which she took up after two years due to completing her teaching commitment. a role into which she grew and flourished. Not daunted by the all-white, male leadership of the company she flourished and introduced many innovations to the practice of wine tasting, including cooking with wine demonstrations, and host and hostess evenings. She also hosted the first wine tasting in Soweto in 1975 and recalls how she was instructed not to serve premium wines. She disputed the reason for the change, and continued with the wine tasting as before which was accompanied by a three-course meal. As this was first for the company, two executive managers joined to experience the event first-hand.

At KWV she spearheaded many community-based projects, the pinnacle of which was the annual Tennis Coaching Clinics and regular art workshops for children from Coloured primary schools in the winelands. A seven-year stint at KWV, where she introduced a host of other functions, and implemented what was the first food and wine festival which she managed successfully for three consecutive years, was to be ended with an offer from Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (SFW), or Distell as it is currently known. Despite being warned that she is moving from an Afrikaner bastion to that which was deemed English stronghold, she nevertheless took the plunge, and joined SFW as Assistant Consumer Marketing Manager in 1979.

Initially recruited to train 54 national wine advisors in a new initiative, Margaret was to rise up the corporate vine where she was seconded to the export department as the International Client Coordinator to take charge of the foreign guests attending the much-vaunted annual Nederburg
Auction for three successive years. However, her steady rise through the company was not be unencumbered by the envious eyes of her white colleagues. With a company car and travelling internationally often, the final straw came with her first-class trip on board the Astor cruise liner to Southampton. Here she innovatively introduced wine tasting courses for the passengers on board.

After having spent six years in that position, she was brought to book on spurious allegations. Disappointed by the betrayal of trust in her and her abilities, Margaret opted to resign, thus ending a trail-blazing career in the industry. From here she was to join Old Mutual and market their products. “I recall that almost always in those days, decisions around insurance policies were left to the male-counterpart in the household. I decided to change that perception, and implemented a strategy aimed at women, as well as on joint consultations, and marketed the very lucrative unit trust products to good effect.” It was from this role that she went into retirement where she continued her life passion of community involvement, especially focused on the elderly. “I love people and sometimes drive out to meet elderly people and inspire them with my message that they should never own their ailments. By owning an ache or pain, you become it.” Today, she lives a charmed life tending to her garden, writing poetry and her memoirs. Undaunted today, as she was as a fearless 12-year-old boarding a train alone, may her joie de vivre spring eternal, for herself and as an inspiration to those that follow.

– Nirode Bramdaw, African Sun Media