Goats and rural development

29 August 2002

Podi-Boswa (Pty) Ltd has given much-needed hope to a North West province community traumatised by the closure of local platinum mines. Spearheaded by Grace Masuku, the Podi-Boswa – which means “goat, our inheritance’ – makes up to R2 000 per goat from the animal’s meat, milk and skin.

With the support of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Agricultural Research Council and the Department of Trade and Industry’s Community Public-Private Partnership Programme, Podi-Boswa combines the power of indigenous knowledge and the value of a natural resource to give a sustainable livelihood to over 1 000 people who had been living on the brink of despair.

The project is a successful rural development project that could provide a good model for sustainable development in similar outlying areas in South Africa. The business model could also be used in other developing countries where subsistence agriculture and farming is common.

Podi-Boswa started in 2000, and grew to the point where, currently, it involves almost 30 villages in the province, and trains young people to make goat leather handbags, belts and purses. These products are marketed to the South African tourism industry.


Grace Masuku with some of the women from her village

Podi-Boswa is one of the eight Southern African enterprises being showcased at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August as part of an initiative of the IUCN.

The IUCN is profiling these eight entrepreneurs in the hope of showing the world that there is another way that works when it comes to sustainable development, and to provide much-needed exposure for these projects.

This will enable community-based natural resource enterprises take their place in local and global economies and get their issues placed on policy agendas.

Asked what the Summit exposure would mean for the communities that are benefiting from Podi-Boswa, project leader Grace Masuku highlighted the things that the project needs for significant growth. These include an abattoir and a tannery – existing abattoirs are far from the villages – technical expertise, and research for better practices and product development.

“We hope that by going to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, we can get the support needed to develop our project’, says Masuku.

Source: International Marketing Council

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