12 October 2023
Absa started from humble beginnings as an idea to establish a rural bank more than 100 years ago. The bank is still entrenched in rural South Africa through its AgriBusiness value proposition and acknowledges that rural communities are vital from a food security, employment and safety perspective in South Africa.
Absa also understands that the investment in infrastructure and social development often lacks in these rural towns.
In recent months, Absa CEO Arrie Rautenbach committed that Absa will play an active role in building a better South Africa. This is in line with Absa’s ambition to be a force for good in the communities in which the bank operates.
Absa AgriBusiness believes in organised agriculture and thus support the producer organisation Grain South Africa. Grain SA hosts two harvest festivals, one for summer grains in Bothaville and one for winter grains in Bredasdorp. Absa supports and attends these festivals to get closer to their clients.
Abrie Rautenbach, head of Absa AgriBusiness, explains that while visiting one of their clients in the Napier area, Kosie van Zyl and his wife Lize, they saw their open hearts and the hard work that they and their teams are doing at Kingdom Ambassadors Children’s Village.
“This has made it easy for us to be a force for good and help support this worthwhile project,” he says.
The Kingdom Ambassadors Children’s Village was founded by the Van Zyls along with Wiaan and Altha Theron. It is situated on the farm Hansies River, owned by Kosie, 20km outside of Napier.
There they provide an environment in which they want to improve the quality of life of orphaned, abused, neglected and vulnerable children. They provide a loving home for them, give them healthy food to eat, provide education, healthcare, a healing and restoration programme, spiritual growth opportunities and moral development. In addition to this, it is a place of safety for vulnerable women and their children.
Kingdom Ambassadors Children’s Village took in their first foster mother and children on 20 June 2016.
The initial home quickly became too small with more children and foster mothers filling the rooms, and they had to make alternative arrangements. An old shed was converted into a beautiful home, and they took in additional foster parents to maintain the 6:1 child/foster parent ratio.
Since the inception of Kingdom Ambassadors Children’s Village, the number of foster children and mothers living with these families has increased rapidly. This illustrates the desperate need in our communities for a place like Kingdom Ambassadors Children’s Village, Rautenbach says.
The team at Kingdom Ambassadors took out a loan to buy a property in Bredasdorp. The property consists of two houses, making it possible to help another 12 children. Today, they are proud to confirm that they are taking care of six foster mothers and 42 children. This includes the foster mothers’ own children.
Kingdom Ambassadors would like to expand to help even more children in need.
“The reality is that the number of orphaned, abused and vulnerable children is ever-increasing, and they are unable to take in more children due to the need for more housing,” Rautenbach explains.
With Absa as Kingdom Ambassadors’ trusted bank, their dreams and funding requirements were made a reality. Absa AgriBusiness made a financial contribution and provided stationery for the children.
“One of our strategic intents is to be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. In this instance, we refer to rural towns,” Rautenbach adds. “Being the biggest lender in agriculture, rural South Africa is close to our heart and history, and this project is a great way to execute on our undertaking.”
According to Rautenbach, education and skills development has always been important to Absa.
“We employ a number of people across all the Absa businesses, thus it is important to play a role in education and skills development to ensure that there is enough youth coming through the system. We also understand the importance of giving our youth an opportunity and hope."
He concludes that through Absa’s Citizenship Projects, they have supported financial literacy training in agriculture (small-scale farmers and farm workers). They have also awarded 53 full agricultural tertiary bursaries in areas where there is a scarcity of skills.
“We used our enterprise development programmes to help small new area farmers in the livestock industry with training, mentoring and funding of bulls and cows. We have also placed a number of students at producers to develop real work skills so they gain experience to be able to apply for future roles.
“A number of these initiatives would not be possible without the support of our clients who are playing various roles in these initiatives. This is a great indication that the agricultural industry and its producers understand the importance and role that they play in their local communities outside of the farm environment.”