Mintirho Foundation, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa’s (CCBSA) foundation, has announced a R25 million investment in Hya Matla Organics, an innovative start-up whose core business is turning water hyacinth into viable commercial products such as fertiliser and animal feed. Water hyacinth is an invasive plant that grows in polluted water and further compromises water quality. Mintirho Foundation is CCBSA’s vehicle for supporting the development of historically disadvantaged emerging farmers and small suppliers of inputs into the CCBSA value chain.
John Kondowe, Executive Director of Hya Matla Organics, said, “By harvesting the plant and turning it into organic fertilizer we complete the cycle of turning the pollutants into nutrients which then feed plants or animals. Thus, integrating the cycle back into economic ecosystems which benefit the economy at large.” The project is currently being implemented in Hartebeespoort Dam near Pretoria, one of the most severely affected by water hyacinth growth.
CCBSA Mintirho Foundation’s Executive Manager, Noxolo Kahlana, said Hya Matla Organics caught the foundation’s eye because its business model is to remove waste from catchment areas and preserving water. “Water is something on which our business is totally dependent, and in a water scarce country like ours, we have a responsibility as industry to help where we can to conserve water. Therefore, supporting initiatives aimed at cleaning our water catchment areas is critical, and something that CCBSA is committed to advancing,” Kahlana said.
“As CCBSA, we understand that it will take more than one entity to deal with the challenge of conserving water and keeping it clean for consumption, hence our decision to support this project and to ensure it is a a success,” Kahlana added. By investing in Hya Matla Organics, the Mintirho Foundation is not only helping to clean up polluted waterways, it is also promoting the development of a black-owned start-up company with an innovative and sustainable business model. The National Development Plan and, recently, President Ramaphosa’s Thuma Mina initiative, both rely on government citizens—including corporate citizens like CCBSA—contribute to solving the large challenges that government is confronting.
As a beverages company, CCBSA is committed to water stewardship within its own internal processes. In 2017, it announced savings of 726 million litres of water in its production processes as part of a commitment to reduce its total water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. This target was reached four years early, and was exceeded by 10 percent, with a total reduction of 30 percent.
“Water security is a national issue. All life depends on water and without sufficient water, the economy will not grow. It’s vital that we all do our part in conserving the water we have. We are very excited about our collaboration with Hya Matla Organics. Because they are goal-driven, initiatives like these are potentially very powerful and sustainable, and can make a significant contribution to overcoming a national challenge,” Kahlana concludes.