Thirteen small bakeries across the West Rand townships of Gauteng have received a boost after South African Breweries (SAB), together with IL Molino Specialty Grains and Mogale City municipality donated more than five tons wheat.

This is one of countless donations and other offers of Covid-29 pandemic related support that have been flowing from the corporate sector since South Africa first entered the lockdown on March 26. The wheat will be used as flour for baking biscuits. 

Some 60 percent of the bakeries are female owned, while close to 40 percent are youth driven.

SAB Corporate Affairs Manager Thabang Mashia said the partnership demonstrated the strength and creativity South African corporates need to exercise in these challenging times. 

“We all know we have to flatten the curve and adhere to lockdown restrictions, but the economic impact cannot be ignored. Especially when you are able to do something about it,” he said.

Mohamed Essack, a director of IL Molino Speciality Grains, the only 100 percent black owsned wheat milling company in the country, volunteered his operations at no cost following a call from Mogale City, when it became clear the wheat from SAB needed further processing.

“The reality is the poorest of South Africans have had to bear the brunt of the lockdown,” said Mashia.

“Although these communities may protect themselves and others from the spread of Covid-19, many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. It has become crucial for corporate South Africa to play a role in uplifting SMMEs that provide food security for these communities,” he said.

Having overcome many challenges in an anti-competitive environment dominated by JSE-owned big millers, IL Molino has increased production from an initial 500 metric ton per.

“Through this initiative, we have created massive opportunities for small bakeries to become suppliers of baking flour produced by Il Molino. This network is likely to grow way 
beyond the end of the lockdown,” said Mashia.

The offers of assistance such as the above from corporate South Africa have been many and varied in the past two months, and not only in the form of cash to the Solidarity Fund.

In another example, Old Mutual donated a fully refurbished quarantine and self-isolation facility to the government to be used in the Western Cape’s fight against the disease.

Old Mutual turned its former Training Centre and Club House, located at the MuPine Golf Club in Pinelands, into a 300-bed quarantine and self-isolation health facility for use by the Western Cape government.

Also, on Friday Absa Group said it had  joined forces with Universities South Africa (USAf) and contributed R5 million to provide learning devices and mobile data to university students to assist with their online or remote learning.

In South Africa, schools, vocational training colleges and universities have been forced to either suspend academic activity or resort to emergency teaching via online platforms through the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the Ministry of Education, Science and Innovation had undertaken to meet the laptop needs of the NSFAS-funded students across institutions, Absa’s contribution would be channelled to assist students in the missing-middle category.

Its contribution would benefit students from six, mostly historically disadvantaged universities, across five provinces: Vaal University of Technology (200 devices); University of KwaZulu-Natal (200 devices); University of the Western Cape (200 devices); University of Limpopo (100 devices); University of Venda (100 devices) as well as the University of the Free State (200 devices). The receiving institutions would devise their own distribution strategies.