Community Trust winds up to develop locals

2016-02-25 06:00
= Spearheading the  Amandla Omoya Trust are (from left) Marion Green-Thompson (Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm representative), Mongezi Vika (Beneficiary Community Trustee); Mthuthuzeli Stephen Mvalo (Beneficiary Community Trustee) and Neville Gabriel (Chairperson of Amandla Omoya Trust). The purpose of the Trust is to remedy past inequities and to boost social development among local communities.

= Spearheading the Amandla Omoya Trust are (from left) Marion Green-Thompson (Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm representative), Mongezi Vika (Beneficiary Community Trustee); Mthuthuzeli Stephen Mvalo (Beneficiary Community Trustee) and Neville Gabriel (Chairperson of Amandla Omoya Trust). The purpose of the Trust is to remedy past inequities and to boost social development among local communities.

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FOR the community, by the community. Five new trustees, of which three act independently, have recently been appointed to ensure that the local community receive the maximum benefit from the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

The Amandla Omoya Trust, a 6% sharehol-der in Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, recently appointed Mongezi Vika and Mthuthuzeli Stephen Mvalo as Beneficiary Community Trustees. They will be working together with Independent Trustees Neville Gabriel (Chairperson), Marion Green-Thompson (Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm representative) and Hephzibah Nozuko Mkhungo (DBSA representative).

The Beneficiary Trustees were nominated by members of the community from within a 50km radius of the wind farm to carry out public benefit activities for the welfare of the local community. The Trustees will be managing the utilisation of the funds received from dividends for the benefit of the community.

The newly appointed Trustees will be engaging with selected community organisations to introduce themselves to the communities in the areas of Hankey, Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, Patensie, Thornhill and St Francis.

Gabriel says, “This model of community ownership, which has been built into the business framework, goes beyond CSI and bridges a number of interests in one model. I have been involved in advocacy, philanthropy, social justice; alone they have limitations, but the Amandla Omoya Trust model, which empowers communities with ownership, seems to take the best of all these and creates something very workable. With the model being linked to a government programme, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP), it is very efficient, transparent and effective in generating foreign investments. The age of aid is over, we can’t simply rely on government to overcome poverty. It is also not a viable solution to expect companies to trickle funds down. This is an ideal business practice, not just a charitable beneficiary.”

Gabriel was appointed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Globeleq. He has extensive years of experience in the field of social justice and public advocacy. As CEO of the Southern Africa Trust he led an independent Southern African regional policy dialogue and grant-making agency that works to deepen and widen engagement between different sectors for better policies to overcome poverty. His unique set of proven skills combines strategic leadership with hands-on organisational management, effective networking, public representation to diverse audiences and the conceptual ability and analytical sense to practically apply his up-to-date knowledge of his field of work to create appropriate change in the contexts in which he works. He also has a diverse and extensive network of professional contacts and serves as a non-executive director of several international organisations. It is this experience that the Trust hopes to use to its best advantage.

Mongezi Vika, a director and shareholder of several businesses, was nominated by a number of community members. Over the course of his career, Vika has accumulated a variety of skills and qualifications that will equip him for his role as a Beneficiary Community Trustee, including certificates in Financial Management and Conflict Resolution. He also has experience in monitoring and evaluation, investment mobilisation and succession planning.

Of becoming a Trustee Vika stated, “I am from East London, from a culture where your family is made up from your community. I was also exposed to rugby culture as a young person, which taught me and my team mates to take care of one another – financially, emotional and spiritually. I want to develop the community so that the youth and others can benefit from future REIPPPs. This includes skills development, better education and training. I see my appointment as an opportunity to develop skills in community in order to service REIPPP in the Eastern Cape.”

Mthuthuzeli Stephen Mvalo has over 15 years’ experience serving the local community. Undoubtedly, the training he has received in fundraising coupled with his empowerment and leadership skills have enabled him to do so and will help him to succeed in his new role. He said, “I wanted to be a Trustee because I understand my community from one corner to another. I know which community members are in real need of help. The community is going to benefit because there are currently a number of unfunded projects, some of which have collapsed due to lack of funding. This is what pushed me - the desire to try to assist very worthy programmes that need help. I am particularly passionate when it comes to youth programmes.”

Marion Green-Thompson, appointed by Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, has spent 16 years in public service working in seven provinces across five different sectors. As Economic Development Director at Globeleq, she is responsible for the development and implementation of economic development programmes associated with renewable energy project companies. She is passionate about any initiatives that embrace diversity, contribute to poverty alleviation and development of people.

Hepsy Mkhungo, appointed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, comes with extensive executive experience, responsible for the advisory, positioning, strategy planning and development of all economic development strategies for a top 100 JSE listed companies. She has been at the helm of building sustainable and practical ED solutions that support the bottom line. ‘Developing entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises has a potential to change prospects of individuals, families, communities and society in general.’

The purpose of the Amandla Omoya Community Trust is to remedy past inequities, boost social development and unity as well as assist in the advancement of poor and disadvantaged communities in the immediate and surrounding vicinity of the wind farm. The 6% ownership is significantly higher than the government’s minimum threshold of 2.5% local ownership.

“This is an exciting step for us and for the local community, who derive financial profit from the wind farm,” says Gabriel.

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