Thought Leadership

Driving Transformation to Achieve a Sustainable Africa

October 2022

-Social and Environmental impacts

Throughout his childhood, Maanda Rashaka was troubled by the hardships that the elders endured in the villages of rural South Africa. He often wondered why the elders of the land were struggling so terribly and what he could do to assist them. This unanswered question became the key driver in his Subject choices. Maanda obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management and Analysis. This however was not his endpoint. Maanda has since completed several courses on Entrepreneurship 101, Business Models for Social Impact to list but a few, that have contributed to his extensive knowledge in sustainable innovations.

Without a doubt, the global economy is in the midst of a green revolution and environmental impacts are an urgent issue that need to be tackled directly through innovation as well as the combined efforts of government, business and society. Maanda has gained a world of experience in the corporate field. He has had the opportunity to fill a variety of roles at the National Business Initiative (NBI), Tshikululu Social Investment and Nedbank where he works as a Strategic Specialist fulfilling the role of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting among other duties. Nedbank is playing its part to achieve a just green transition to a green economy and Maanda is in his element in this space as he can utilise his expertise to guide others within the finance industry, through their transition to a green economy. By taking initiative from Nedbank, this can be achievable. The bank took on this transition with a zeal, focusing on environmental and social needs on three levels; systemic, business and community whilst directing finance in a way that will ensure that South Africa’s withdrawal from the old economy to the new economy is done in a just and responsible manner.

Looking more specifically at SA, the need to transition to a low carbon economy is real. To achieve this the country needs to be resource efficient and socially inclusive. This means that S.A needs to transform from a low carbon to a climate resilient, competitive economy which is also socially resilient and inclusive. It is all very complex, what with the fear of high inflation due to the escalating energy crisis and dangers surrounding food insecurity and the thoughts of an unstable global economy. The just transformation to a new green economy is evidently an undeniable global necessity.

In conversation, Maanda makes use of an innovative programme “to paint a picture”, as an example of the initiatives of a green economy and what the intended impact should look like. Maanda adds to his long list of skills, that he is also a fierce entrepreneur within the Agricultural sector and is always seeking opportunities to develop in the field. Aligned with Barloworld’s desires to make a sustainable difference through economic and social transformation, the Mbewu Flagship programme was born. Maanda, with his vision of developing an Agrihub in the Limpopo Province, applied and was accepted. The programme focused on selecting and supporting social enterprises in agro-processing, agriculture and green economy among a few others.

The envisioned Agrihub however, did not become a reality then. The one-hectare farming land that he purchased with the funding however is successfully sustaining the families of Ms Fulufhelo and Mr Tshifaro. Maanda, with the goodness of heart, transferred all assets of the farm over to his two former partners. They now own, manage and work the land which is generating sufficient produce for market distribution after sustaining the two families. This in turn has enabled them to employ seasonal labourers, aligning to one of the aims of the Mbewu programme which seeks to make more sustainable impacts in communities through creating employment opportunities. It is unfortunate that the planet is balancing dangerously on a precipice making it critical for global businesses and their associated supply chains to quickly identify strategies and tactics that will accelerate the green revolution. Evidently, Maanda is doing his fair share to assist by creating jobs, aiding in poverty reduction and upskilling people from all walks of life.

With his desires to see sustainability in Africa that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations and South Africa alike, Maanda volunteers much of his spare time to the Global Compact Network South Africa as an Innovators Programme facilitator. South Africa’s sustainability agenda focuses on balancing economic and social challenges while protecting the environment. As we know, South Africa is a water scarce country with alien and invasive species that consume a significant amount more water than indigenous species. A model that should be followed that will ultimately protect the environment in the Just Green Transition is one where corporates support micro businesses that are clearing and harvesting alien and invasive biomass, beneficiating it and in turn creating FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified charcoal that will be destined for export markets.

In conversation, Maanda commented that he is also an Executive Board Member of Siyavuna Development Centre, a registered non-profit organisation (NPO) located in Kwa-Zulu Natal which focuses on creating a sustainable solution for the inter-related challenges of poverty, food insecurity and low levels of economic participation. Maanda Rashaka appears to be unstoppable in his efforts to achieve a Sustainable Africa as we learn that he has also been the Young SDG Innovators Programme Manager for South Africa and Kenya for the last three years.

In parting, Maanda refers again to the Barloworld Mbewu Programme: “the just green transition to a green economy is just this, it is about corporates prioritizing sustainability and showing that they care about the environment. We do not want to prioritize, in a country like South Africa, environmental sustainability at the cost of social sustainability, because most people think that for us to achieve the just transition, we have to trade off social jobs. This is not so; we can most definitely create jobs and by funding entrepreneurs involved in green projects that will positively impact the environment, Barloworld has proven just that. In selecting previously disadvantaged South Africans, corporates can prioritize the social and the green together, therefore the tagline here is that the just transition is not just about green but it's about green that brings about social sustainability and that's the end goal”.

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