14 November 2007
There is one resource that can be found in even the smallest villages of South Africa, no matter how poor – and that resource is remarkable individuals. One such person is Vhonani Mufamadi, chief executive officer of identity management company Ideco Group.
Mufamadi’s company, which is at the cutting edge of using fingerprint technology for controlling access to buildings and information, has just listed on South Africa’s stock exchange, the JSE.
And Mufamadi has decided to mark the occasion by putting R750 000 into the Dreamfields Project, to be invested in his home village of Tshisahulu in rural Venda.
The Dreamfields Project, brainchild of journalist John Perlman, aims to use the excitement generated by the 2010 Fifa World Cup to bring soccer fields and equipment – as well as business skills and new social partnerships – to disadvantaged communities across South Africa.
Some of Mufamadi’s money will go towards providing 10 schools in the Tshisahulu area with equipment and kit, in the form of “Dream Bags” each containing 11 footballs and 15 full sets of kit. But the bulk will be spent on giving the children of his village the kind of playing field that he never had as a soccer-mad kid.
“I had a gardening job at the local hospital on the weekends, and with the money I saved from that I bought a plastic soccer ball,” Mufamadi says.
“I was a player but by no means was I the most outstanding. Being the owner of a ball had certain advantages: you could own the team and, of course, you could pick yourself to play.
“We’re talking to the community and we’re getting involved in community structures at the moment,” says Mufamadi. “We’re hoping to have our launch to roughly coincide with the opening of the schools in February or early March next year.
“We’ll purchase some Dream Bags and we’ll hand them over to the school and village teams in the area. Hopefully we can get playing on a field three or four months after the launch.
“The playing fields there today remain as appalling as they were when I used to own a team,” Mufamadi says. “That’s why I want to improve the condition of youngsters in that part of the world. I don’t want things to never change. Dreamfields is a simple and very effective way of doing just that.”