Standard Bank and SU launch centre to support transformation in the agricultural sector

The high failure rate of land reform projects and emerging farmers has led to the founding of the Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development, an institution designed to address current challenges in the agricultural sector.

Willie Du Plessis, Director Agricultural Banking at Standard Bank says: “The Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development is a response to calls by government for private/public partnerships in the agricultural sector. The venture established in partnership with the Stellenbosch University aims to link emerging farmers with the commercial agri-food value chain and promote economic development and growth. Standard Bank believes that by increasing access to education, information and the agricultural value chain, emerging farmers stand a better chance of making a meaningful contribution to the economy of the country.”

The initiative, the first of its type in South Africa is in line with Standard Bank’s approach to corporate social investment projects which concentrates on creating a sustainable solution where fundamental needs are addressed.

Prof. Mohammad Karaan, Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences at Stellenbosch University says: “The South African agricultural sector plays a key role in economic growth and development through food and fibre production. A major challenge for South Africa is thus to be found in successful and sustainable agricultural development and land reform to underpin a competitive, equitable and environmentally sustainable agricultural production capacity. The Centre will position the Stellenbosch University to engage with the agribusiness environment to develop the required human capacity and knowledge systems to play a leadership role in this context.”

Tina Eboka, Director of Group Corporate Affairs at Standard Bank says: “The bank’s investment in the Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development is driven by a desire to make a sustainable social impact and to derive business dividends from socially relevant investments. Standard Bank believes that by leveraging its vast resources, its investment in communities can have a positive social as well as mutual economic benefit. In the case of the Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development, we believe that money alone will not assist emerging farmers. In keeping with Standard Bank’s aim of connecting people we have invested monetary as well as our collective skills and expertise to help establish sustainable and successful agri businesses.”

The project consists of two separate interactive sets of programme activities. Stellenbosch University will initiate and co-ordinate a multi-disciplinary postgraduate level education including PhD and Masters Degrees. Current students as well as established leaders in the agribusiness sector benefit from these postgraduate studies.

Secondly, a mentorship programme will establish a “learning-by-doing” experience through various accredited short courses, and the development of a data base of projects and mentors that participants of the scheme can draw from. PriceWaterhouseCoopers will be one of the strategic partners involved in the development and presentation of the short courses.

Du Plessis says: “This new centre will create a platform to engage and leverage off new business opportunities and agri-business partnerships across the country. Standard Bank’s recently established R500-million agriculture BEE fund will further contribute to the development of emerging farmers in South Africa. The main purpose of this agric BEE fund is to connect agribusinesses to land reform projects and emerging farmers in a sustainable manner whilst exposing Standard Bank to bankable opportunities.”

The Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development has been endorsed by the National Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Business Chamber and aims to assist emerging farmers enter the mainstream agricultural sector.

  • For more information contact Ross Linstrom at Standard Bank, tel 011 636 3629, cell 083 262 1882, e-mail ross.linstrom@standardbank.co.za or Prof Johan van Rooyen, Director of the Standard Bank Center for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development, Stellenbosch University, tel 021 808 4757, e-mail cjvr@sun.ac.za .

Photo: Prof Johan van Rooyen, Director of the Standard Bank Center for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development, at the launch in Stellenbosch (photo: SSFD). Photo (bottom): Prof Johan van Rooyen, Director of the Standard Bank Centre for Agribusiness Leadership and Mentorship Development (SU); Mr Willie du Plessis, Director: Agricultural Banking (Standard Bank); Ms Nomsa Masuku, Director CSI (Standard Bank); Mr Zwelibanzi Manyati, Director Business Banking and Mid Corporate (Standard Bank) and Prof Mohammad Karaan, Dean of the Faculty of AgriSiences (SU)