Ekukhanyeni Relief Project (ERP) is a Non-Profit Company and a Public Benefit Organization and runs complementary community-based projects focusing on Early Childhood Development and Food Security through Permaculture in poverty stricken informal settlements in the City of Johannesburg’s Region G – in the extreme south of Johannesburg.
Our Early Childhood Development (ECD) component lovingly uplifts 1200 special little children each year with early education and empowers their inner circle of caregivers at 16 beneficiary Early Childhood Development Centers (ECDC’s) with various support and skills development packages.
ERP is an accredited training service provider and provides Food Security Through Permaculture to revitalise impoverished communities by reintroducing low-cost, sustainable urban agriculture through permaculture. The Public Benefit NGO works from within communities to upskill Community-Based Training Facilitators to train in the vernacular to provide AgriSETA accredited training in Permaculture Design and training in Integral Health Promotion, and Advanced Permaculture Design to improve household and community food security and support healthier eating. Entrepreneurship Skills training is also included in our model to promote sustainable livelihoods where subsistence farming is turned into ‘for-profit’ economic activity.
UBUNTU Business School has become our preferred training service provider for SETA Accredited Financial Management Training and Business Coaching for both our ECD and Food Security Programmes.
Our beneficiary ECDC’s are required by government regulations to provide proper financial reporting to the Department of Social Development in order to obtain and maintain NPO Registration, as well as to become registered as a Place of Care and receive government grants. In 2014 UBUNTU Business School afforded our ECDC Principals with the opportunity to learn and implement vital financial skills which were previously lacking, in order to properly record and maintain their finances. Learners were from the impoverished informal settlement of Lawley, Region G with little to no background in proper financial management prior to the course and an average educational level of Grade 8 or below.
Principals enjoyed the training and they gained confidence on how to apply the skills they learned. Gary and his team really connected with our learners, which instilled a sense of reliability and commitment to their success. Gary is always willing to assist and has taken phone calls from our learners when they were in need of assistance post workshop and he and his Team have always gone the extra mile to ensure that each learner handed in their POE’s by providing the relevant coaching – not only during the training, but for many months after the training ended.
Success from the Financial Management Training course and the wonderful relationship that was established has encouraged future plans to participate in the Turnaround and Implementation Strategy offered by UBUNTU. We feel this would assist our ECDC Principals greatly to further their skills through this course so that they may fully implement a turnaround strategy which would propel their ECDC’s into becoming an income generating establishment which assists in the assurance of their longevity and ability to provide love and care to our beneficiary children. We are at the moment raising funds for this next endeavor.
A key focus area for Ekukhanyeni’s Food Security Through Permaculture Programme is to assist beneficiary learners through the various stages necessary to implement a successful food garden, including the ability to turn their food garden into an income generating opportunity. SETA Accredited training from UBUNTU in 2014 also provided beneficiary learners from one of our Agri-Cooperative clients in Hammanskraal with the skills necessary to take their food gardens to another level of sustainability for livelihood outcomes. We have included UBUNTU’s accredited Financial Management Training and Business Coaching into our proposals for 2015 for another Agri-Cooperative to participate in the Turnaround Strategy. We are looking forward again to collaborating with Gary and his Team.
As an organization serving very poor and underdeveloped communities, we have had difficulty in the past to identify a training service provider that can tailor their training to benefit, rather than to exclude community members who may not have very high literacy levels. What has also been challenging in our experience is to identify a service provider who has a genuine interest and passion to uplift communities. With Gary and his Team, we have found both. Mention also needs to be made of the follow-up coaching that is available in UBUNTU’s training approach. In our experience, UBUNTU has a very affective mentoring approach, which has served our beneficiaries and the success of their projects very well.