Procurement with Purpose has announced its aim to boost food security among South Africa’s most vulnerable. Procurement with Purpose is an initiative by two SAP Africa team members — Kaunain Nurani and Mathiba Phokungoane — which strives to make it easier for SAP and other organisations to purchase goods and services from social enterprises.
The aim of the initiative is to bring a handpicked selection of purpose-driven social enterprises into the world’s largest procurement network Ariba.
By providing greater visibility of social enterprises, Procurement with Purpose encourages organisations to divert some of their spending toward social enterprises.
One such social enterprise is Reel Gardening, a company that provides innovative solutions that enable anyone to grow their own food at home. Claire Reid is the founder.
Reel Gardening aims to provide patented seed tape that makes it easy for anyone to grow vegetables and herbs at home. Through its non-profit arm Reel Life, the company further enables households to become responsible for their own food security by establishing local schools as community training and distribution nodes for the food they grow.
Kholiwe Makhohliso, managing director at SAP Southern Africa, lauds the work of the social enterprises that form part of Procurement with Purpose, saying social impact requires more than just a clear sense of purpose.
“I have long held the belief that motivated, purpose-driven entrepreneurs can make a significant impact and drive change both in their work environment and the world at large,” Makhohliso says.
“Thanks to the amazing work by Nurani and Phokungoane for bringing incredible social enterprises such as Reel Gardening into our Ariba procurement network, SAP customers can now more easily purchase sustainable goods and services from social enterprises that are making a real, positive impact in the world,” adds Makhohliso.
“When I was 16, I wanted to grow my own vegetables and sell them to my parents for extra pocket money,” says Reid. “But keeping track of watering, fertiliser, how deep the seed is planted and making sure seeds are planted far enough apart turned out much harder than I thought. And even when seedlings did appear, I couldn’t tell which were weeds and which were potential food.”
According to the initiative, Reid wanted a simple way of giving seeds the optimal conditions for their early growth and began to make seed strips with newspaper, encasing the seed in a paste made from flour and liquid fertiliser.
The project was entered into an expo for young scientists, where it caught the eye of the then-Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, who noted the water-saving abilities of this new form of planting.
Following a series of tests at a local university, Reid discovered that Reel Gardening could save up to 80% of the water consumed during germination. The patent technology won several awards, including the International Stockholm Junior Water Prize for South Africa and The United Nations Environmental SEED Award.
“We have distributed around 50-million seed tapes to date, giving households an easy way to grow tomatoes, herbs, chillies, spinach and more,” says Reid.
“Our Household Garden in a Box also gives households and communities the opportunity to grow fresh produce in whatever space is available, with less need for water, time or expertise. We believe this creates an opportunity to contribute to breaking the systemic cycle of food poverty and insecurity in our communities,” Reid adds.
Through a mobile app, Reel Gardening provides advice on what to do in the garden. WhatsApp is also used to communicate with the 41 000 households that use Reel Gardening’s seed tape kits to plant in townships across South Africa.
“We want to create links between all of our gardens to enable the activation of a larger ecosystem,” concludes Reid. “Our ultimate goal is to aggregate surplus produce from thousands of households into our agri hubs for processing and sale into local and even international off-take agreements.”