As one of KwaZulu-Natal’s longest standing commercial and agricultural entities, Huletts plays a significant societal role in South Africa. Growing a Sweet Future is their dynamic 21st century vision and comprehensive commitment to communities, country, and planet.
Socio-economic development is a strong and steady driving force through all their projects and initiatives, and in this regard, Huletts is closely aligned with government to ensure that this imperative is a constant thread.
Working together with the communities in which they operate, Huletts is mindful of its role as facilitators of social economic development, providing frameworks and support systems to enable communities and individuals to build better futures. As Bongani Gumede, Corporate Affairs Executive for Tongaat Hulett explains, “As a group, we listen to the communities so as to ensure we fully understand their concerns and needs, then we work to provide an enabling environment via upskilling opportunities, funding mechanisms, business linkages and numerous other tools. We craft programmes first and foremost around the aspirations and priorities of the community itself.”
At Huletts, education and training is a cornerstone, and it is not necessarily focussed on sugar-cane growing and milling, but rather the broader picture of agriculture and artisanal employment. Facilitating meaningful and sustainable employment in local communities is paramount – Huletts identifies opportunities, facilitates skills transfer and offers appropriate support for entrepreneurs to establish businesses, particularly those enterprises with the potential to offer employment to others in the community.
In response to skills gaps in the community, Huletts established a series of Ithuba business support and training centres. These are designed to offer short, empowering courses on universal topics such as perfecting a CV, effective business practices, tax compliance and more. Huletts also assists with job linkages with over 3 000 employment opportunities created to date. Additionally, promising start-ups or small businesses within the communities are able to access financial support via Small Enterprise Finance Agency’s (SEFA) small business finance options.
“Huletts has a number of game-changing catalytic initiatives,” says Nkonzo Mhlongo, Tongaat Hulett Sugar SA’s Corporate Affairs Executive. She points to the Uzinzo sugar farming business as being particularly impactful, one which aligns perfectly with governmental goals of transformation and land reform:
“Uzinzo has 700 seasonal workers and 9 permanent employees, and is not only growing as an entity, but is highly successful.” Equally, the Mkuze Rail Siding project, a collaborative undertaking with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DRDLR), the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), Sentrans, South African Farmers Development Association (SAFDA), South African Cane Growers Association (SACGA), local government and other key stakeholders: “The focus here is to assist in reducing the onerous transport costs incurred by our small scale growers, and supports government’s broader agenda of moving from road to rail.” Huletts’ catalytic Farmco programme – a large-scale black-owned sugarcane farming enterprise – addresses the multiple issues of transformation, employment, as well as rural and local economic development.
The planet – and sustainability – is integral to Huletts’ vision for Growing a Sweet Future, both in terms of eliminating its operational impact as well as actively pursuing environmental clean-ups and innovative initiatives. Huletts has partnered with organisations such as Green Corridors and the Wildlands Conservation Trust, allocating resources to numerous projects like the Source to Sea pollution management scheme, and the River Booming initiative where boom gates across rivers trap plastics, preventing them from getting into the oceans.
Open communication and on-going cooperation and collaboration between Huletts, government and all stakeholders, is considered key to unlocking and Growing a Sweet Future for all. Huletts works tirelessly to enable local communities to identify and seize opportunities to change the future for themselves and their communities. Supporting green business shoots has led to some extraordinary success stories of sustainable enterprises, and they are constantly unfolding. For Mhlongo, the concept of Growing a Sweet Future sustainably, resonates strongly because growth, the future and an improved quality of life is at the heart of Huletts’ commitment to communities, country, and planet.
Relevant pages in AgribookDigital include “Sugarcane“.