Viewpoint: Helping To Undo the Red Tape That Ties up Social Entrepreneurs in Bureaucratic Knots
By Mignon Reyneke
After losing her job, Renshia Manuel, a mother of four, found herself looking at an empty larder and a row of hungry faces. For a school librarian with no formal qualifications in a country with one of the highest unemployment and inequality rates in the world, the future looked bleak. Desperate to feed her children, Manuel started growing veggies at her home in Hanover Park – an area better known for gangsterism than it is for gardening. Little did she know at the time that the seeds of a successful social enterprise had been sown.
Today Manuel is the founder and CEO of GrowBox, a small business that provides “grow your own” planter boxes of fresh vegetables to consumers, and supplies vegetable and flowering seedlings to nursery retailers, community organisations, NGOs and NPOs as well as government entities. Boxes are sold on a two-for-one model – for every two boxes sold, one is sponsored to a hungry household. Veggie boxes and food gardening vouchers paid for by private and corporate sponsorship are also distributed to beneficiaries. GrowBox takes basic food nutrition to those who need it most and teaches households how to grow food at their own homes in sustainable and eco-friendly ways.
“Whether you are an inner-city dweller with only a balcony space, or living in an informal settlement, a flat or backyard dwelling where there’s no space or the ground is badly polluted, we’ve got what you need to set up your own veggie garden. Anywhere that there is sunlight and fresh air you can grow your own garden,” says Manuel.
Photo courtesy of Comfreak.