'Waste-preneurs' and 'tree-preneurs' refer to entrepreneurs who collect recyclable waste and grow trees for selling or bartering for livelihood goods such as laptops, product hampers, educational support, building materials, water tanks and solar equipment.
The project received an initial six million rand capital injection and two million rand annually over the next two years as part of rolling out the project.
The partnership is currently being undertaken in Mpumalanga’s Acornhoek community with about 423 tree-preneurs and waste-preneurs participating.
The partnership started in September 2014 seeking to empower previously disadvantaged communities of Acornhoek to find a livelihood while helping improve the ecosystem.
According to a statement by Wildlands Conservation Trust, building of robust and resilient ecosystems was a critical element in underpinning human wellbeing.
“Working at the point where environmental conservation and human wellbeing converge, Wildlands’ guiding principle is the belief that healthy, robust and resilient ecosystems underpin human wellbeing,” said Andrew Venter, chief executive of the Wildlands Conservation Trust.
“If this is achieved, it has the potential to provide a sustainable future for all.”
Nedbank has also partnered with Wildlands and Kruger2Canyon in the region seeking to catalyse and support a unique partnership that will enable the transformation of the Acornhoek community.
The project seeks to establish networks of individual tree-preneurs and waste-preneurs throughout the Acornhoek community, growing trees and collecting recyclable waste to be bartered for livelihood goods.
Tree and waste-preneurs schools intervention enables the community to generate income on a sustainable basis to progressively improve their facilities.
Eckson Raganya, principal at one of the local schools promoting tree-preneurs said his school had benefited indirectly over 500,000 rand due to his participation in the Eco-schools project.
“We are who we are, where we are and how we are because of organisations like the Children’s Eco-Training Trust,” he said.
Nedbank’s sustainability manager, Nina Wellsted said her organisation was proud to play the role of empowering disadvantaged communities.
“The project has helped the empowerment of participating individuals who were once marginalised from the local economy to become viable small businesses in their own right,” said Wellsted.
“Nedbank is proud to be part of this ground-breaking partnership which aligns so closely with our vision of integrated sustainability.”