Italian firm empowers residents

Italian-owned MA Automotive tool and die company has invested R350 000 to create job opportunities for their employees relatives’ and a portion of the Berlin community where the plant is situated.

MAJOR BOOST: Unemployed relatives of employees at MA Automotive in Berlin and the community have been given a plot of land to cultivate and grow crops to harvest and sell, to create job opportunities and promote food security in the area. The group has been fully trained, educated and financially supported by the company Picture: RANDELL ROSKRUGE

MA country leader Paolo Olivero, together with human resources executive Phillip Sapto launched an agricultural co-op using a portion of the companies land next to their Berlin factory, where they have about 200 hectares of land on site.

The automotive company specialises in metal works, bonnets, doors, floors of vehicles and supplies to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota and other brands.

Olivero said the site would be used to expand the factory to create jobs for locals, but decided they put it to good use in the interim.

The company has outsourced Peter du Preez of What Education to train the 20 members, which is dominated by women, to manage and working on the project which will be growing crops to sell to the employees, the community and supplying food retailers in the long-term.

Du Preez said the company aimed to educate the team on the basics of agriculture, business management and people management.

“This project is for the community and the relatives of the community, they decide what they want to grow and I just make sure they know how to execute what their goals are for the project by giving guidance and support to the project.

“R350000 has been allocated for fencing, irrigation systems and seedlings of the crops they have requested to grow, everything else is up to them to make this work and I will be monitoring and supporting them for a duration of two years, making ad hoc visits to see how they are doing.”

Du Preez said the group are more aware of what is lacking in the community, which fruits and vegetables are most needed and they would know better about pricing in the area because they are also buyers.

“As the project grows, they will also be the ones to recruit more to work on the project,” he said.

Sapto said the group would receive a stipend of R20000 for four months which they would spend how they see fitting, to pay salaries and possibly buy more seedlings depending on their needs.

“We have created a structure/committee of five members who will be overseeing the project and that funds are managed accordingly.

“This is just a start of many more opportunities that will come to the small town, from the international Italian foundation Magneto, a social wing of MA.”

Ward 45 councillor Thozamile Norexe said he was excited about the project.

“I will personally commit to seeing that this project is a success because more people need to be employed from this project.”

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