Oceana Empowerment Trust changes lives


Cape Town - Putting down a deposit for and buying a first home, settling debt and establishing community projects for underprivileged children are some of the ways in which the beneficiaries of the Oceana Empowerment Trust (OET) spent their early pay out.

The Oceana Group established the Oceana Empowerment Trust in 2006 with the objective  of unlocking and converting the value of harvesting fishing rights into shared, broad based value for eligible employees, namely black South African citizens who are permanently employed or permanent seasonal workers within Oceana.

In April last year, Oceana Group handed over R292m to the Oceana Empowerment Trust for distribution to 2 647 employee beneficiaries of the trust, equating to an average pay out of about R100 000 each after tax.

Interested to understand the impact the payout had and the effectiveness of the voluntary financial training provided prior the payout to the beneficiaries, the trustees encouraged beneficiaries to share their stories on how the payout has empowered them and changed their lives.

The top ten stories will be rewarded with vouchers ranging from R40 000 to R5 000, depending on the ranking of the story, says Lea Conrad, Oceana Empowerment Trust’s chair.

First place winner, Jennifer Mathaise, has been with Oceana Group since 2008 and permanently employed at CCS Logistics, City Deep as Operations Clerk.

“The small backyard dwelling did not have enough space to accommodate me and my 11-year-old son, who had been staying with my family in the North West Province. My debt repayments meant I could not save up for a deposit on a new home,” Mathaise said. “Thanks to the Oceana payout I am debt-free and have put down a deposit on my own home. I am now able to see the most important person in my life, my son, every day.”

Gadija Bowman, employed by Oceana Group, from Ocean View in Cape Town used to live in a street plagued by crime and violence which she knew was not the right place to bring up a young family.

The pay-out enabled her to put down a deposit and move to a new house in a safer neighbourhood. In addition, she wanted to invest in the future of her community.

“I linked up with Chantal Daniels, the owner of Volunteer Mzanzi Africa, and thanks to the Oceana Empowerment Trust, we have started a project that buys school uniforms and shoes for underprivileged children and youth from the community," she said.

Oceana Group CEO Francois Kuttel said The Oceana Empowerment Trust is a point of great pride for the group as it transforms the lives of its black employees who have now become financially empowered as authentic stakeholders in South Africa’s formal economy.

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