6 years ago

South African Business 2017 edition

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South African Business is a unique guide to business and investment in South Africa. In addition to an up-to-date economic overview of the country, analyses of the main industrial sectors, plus profiles of the nine provincial economies, the 2017 edition of South African Business includes special features on key topical issues such as skills development and education, renewable energy and the REIPPPP programme, and trade with Africa.

INTERVIEW Turning waste

INTERVIEW Turning waste into wealth REDISA is helping to clean up the environment and, as the same time, empower and create jobs for thousands of South Africans. REDISA director Stacey Davidson plays a crucial role in the organisation’s community development initiatives. Stacey Davidson What message would you like to share with the business community about the work of community-based organisations? It’s essential to develop some kind of social impact, and it’s best if this is community based or with organisations that are home-grown. After all, when you actually understand the situation then you understand the context in which the stakeholders operate. When you understand the extent of the problem you are in a position to provide basic solutions. I always say that you can’t bring a Japanese model and apply it to Africa. The same applies when we’re looking at ways to deal with community problems. You need to have community players participate and I think that’s where REDISA has been successful because, as a public benefit organisation, we’ve really focused on understanding the South African challenge within the global context. We looked at waste and, where others saw rubbish, we saw potential, we saw opportunity… and we actually saw commodity. BIOGRAPHY Stacey Davidson joined REDISA in 2010 as a director, after working in various industries including finance. Davidson's interest in the economic empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities resulted in her volunteering for communitybased organisations such as NICRO, CAFDA and Triple Trust Organisation. It was Davidson's passion for community development which prompted her to join REDISA. "WE LOOKED AT WASTE AND WHERE OTHERS SAW RUBBISH WE SAW POTENTIAL, WE SAW OPPORTUNITY AND WE ACTUALLY SAW COMMODITY." What are the challenges in commoditising waste? We developed REDISA’s Waste into Worth concept, and this highlights the legal concept of extended fiduciary responsibility. This effectively means that if you’re manufacturing a product then you are responsible to deal with that product when it no longer has a SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESS 2017 34

INTERVIEW useful life. The challenge with extended fiduciary responsibility is that we’re looking to industries in the manufacturing sector to solve this problem, and that’s why we say that it's wrong to make the boss the gardener. I’m always astonished by the level of innovation that I am privileged to see among low-skilled workers. They are so capable and bursting with potential, but the problem is that we’re not yet taking the opportunity to these people, and that’s why it’s important to get them into the system. Once these people have been brought into the supply chain we ensure they have access to accredited courses and skills development to ensure that they have the opportunity to improve their own skill levels so they can migrate up the value chain. "I ALWAYS SAY THAT YOU CAN’T BRING A JAPANESE MODEL AND APPLY IT TO AFRICA." Why is the circular economy so important? When we deplete all of our virgin resources, recycling will be the only place that we will be able to get these resources from, so it makes sense from a strategic perspective. Building a circular economy requires a strong plan for recycling waste, which requires that you ensure that recyclable material is always picked up and put back into the system. Please give us some background to data sanitisation and a community-based marketing strategy. Data is a problem in South Africa, specifically for us because most of the communities that REDISA’s initiative aims to empower are informal, so they don’t have a formal address and so on. How we look to overcome the problem is through the mobile technology that we use, a lot of which is GPS-based. For instance, our registration process is done via mobile technology so we’re able to utilise where the person lives and works based on where they’re registered and, from that, we can factor their details into a system. One of the challenges for a community-based organisation is that, when it comes to driving out social impact, I believe that the perception of these organisations needs to change. The challenge is so big that you need to attract the right kinds of minds because, if you are dealing with public and social issues, you need to be the best of the best driving your initiatives. However, if you want to attract foreign investment, for example, then you need to be able to demonstrate the return on that investment. In other words, you need to demonstrate the impact that you are making. CONTACT INFO Tel: 087-35-73873 Email: Website: 35 SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESS 2017

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