Over 2 500 â€˜tree-preneursâ€™ who plant, grow and sell indigenous trees are developing a regular source of income in areas with little or no access to formal employment, whilst greening the environment.
In support of this initiative and to recognise South Africaâ€™s 11th annual Arbour week from 1 to 7 September, Woolworths is supporting the planting of 3 000 indigenous trees in the Vosloorus (Gauteng) area of the programme.
The Wildlands Conservation Trustâ€™s Indigenous Trees for Life programme teaches children and adults to grow indigenous trees. Once the trees have reached a specific height, the â€˜treeâ€‘preneursâ€™ are able to trade their trees with the Wildlands Conservation Trust for food, clothing, agricultural goods and tools, or towards schooling or tertiary education fees.
The trees are then either planted back into the communities or planted in Wildlandsâ€™ forest restoration projects which clear and replace alien plants with indigenous trees.
2500 tree businesses in 20 communities
Dr Andrew Venter, CEO of Wildlands Conservation Trust, says, ‘We began in KwaZulu-Natal in 2004 with 300 â€˜tree-preneursâ€™, and now have over 2 500 in 20 communities across KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng, producing over 380 000 indigenous trees in the last year.â€
‘While we provide them with the seeds and training, our growers are mini-entrepreneurs. The rewards are based on effort and self-discipline and as such the programme instills confidence and a good work ethic in the â€˜tree-preneursâ€™, teaching them business principles they can make use of throughout their lives, as well as gaining respect for the environment.â€
Justin Smith, Manager of Woolworths Good business journey says, ‘We have chosen to support the programme because of the unique combination of creating employment, developing entrepreneurs and conserving indigenous plants and trees.â€
For Arbour week, Woolworths will also be donating 500 trees to their MySchool initiative.