Food insecurity is rife in South Africa, with more than a quarter of school-aged children stunted and malnourished.

To help combat this, food and beverage company Tiger Brands partnered with non-profit organisation Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) in 1994, rolling out the EduPlant programme, South Africa’s longest-running school greening and gardening programme.

The aim of this national programme is to bring nutritious food to young children to supplement meals provided by the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE’s) National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) feeding scheme.

EduPlant is the 2022 winner of the coveted Trialogue Strategic CSI Award, which was established in 2014 to recognise projects that find the optimal balance between social impact and corporate benefit. The award encourages corporate social investment (CSI) practitioners to think more strategically when designing and implementing programmes.


Social benefits

During 2021/22, EduPlant established 30 school-based food security clusters. Each cluster comprised around ten schools that received facilitated workshops, educational materials, and resources like tools, planting materials and soil additives.

These resources helped schools start or expand food gardens to grow fresh vegetables and herbs and sell produce to the community. A notable outcome was the fact that learners encouraged their parents to start growing their own food.

Schools’ portfolios of evidence saw improved soil health, water-saving behaviours, thanks to the use of grey water systems and diversion drains, harvest records, and a general improvement in the nutritional status of the learners. When food is grown locally, there’s also more disposable income to spend on other food items in a typical household basket.

R4.93 million was allocated directly to schools, excluding administrative, monitoring and evaluation costs, which amounted to R16 420 per school.


Corporate benefits

Tiger Brands’ partnership with FTFA has significant benefits including a positive reputational effect. The EduPlant programme’s Facebook and Instagram pages boast around 170 000 followers, and 30 WhatsApp group communities link directly into the clusters. multiple positive news stories were released in media, with the FTFA newsletter driving around 10 000 website visits per month.

The project improved relationships with key business stakeholders, including the DBE’s NSNP, the Tiger Brands Foundation, company employees, and communities with customers in which interventions took place.

As Tiger Brands’ flagship CSI programme, EduPlant receives a significant proportion of the annual CSI spend. The programme resonates with employees, who are proud of Tiger Brands’ positive impact on society.


Judging criteria

Lulu Khumalo, External Relations Director, Tiger Brands receives the Trialogue Strategic CSI Award from award judges Gugu McLaren-Ushewokunze of the National Business Initiative (NBI) and Bhekinkosi Moyo, adjunct professor at Wits Business School and director of the Centre on African Philanthropy and Social Investment (CAPSI)

The Award judges were Gugu McLaren-Ushewokunze, who leads the Economic Inclusion programme at the National Business Initiative (NBI) and Bhekinkosi Moyo, adjunct professor at Wits Business School and director of the Centre on African Philanthropy and Social Investment (CAPSI). Each entry was scored against the project’s objectives, social benefits, and corporate benefits.

The judges said Tiger Brands’ awards entry was comprehensive, thorough and detailed. “It was well-considered and reflected Tiger Brands’ approach to this project,” they noted. “It outlined the measurable outcomes and impact, and clearly articulated business competitiveness. The submission included supporting evidence and documentation and was an excellent example of strategic CSI.”

“Tiger Brands has elevated this long-standing programme to a crucial post-pandemic intervention at a time when food insecurity is dire at a household level,” said Trialogue MD Nick Rockey. “The benefits to schools and communities are clear – but what is also evident is how the programme has improved stakeholder relations and solidified positive brand association. The programme really does highlight how strategic CSI can create a virtuous cycle that benefits both business and communities.”

Lulu Khumalo, External Relations Director of Tiger Brands, said “It is a great honour to be recognised for our work with EduPlant. Part of the great success of EduPlant is the collaborative effort to bring positive change in vulnerable communities across South Africa. That, and the sustainability element to the programme, which is key to Tiger Brands’ strategic socio-economic drive. As one of the largest good producers in Africa, we not only use our available resources to nourish those in need, we also work to nurture people to support their own nutritional needs into the future in a sustainable manner. EduPlant provides communities with the resources, skills and knowledge to ensure that they are able to provide for themselves long after.”

Judges also made special mention of the following high-scoring initiatives: Eskom’s Expo for Young Scientists (EEFYS), PepsiCo Sub-Saharan Africa’s Dignity to Rural Sanitation, and Rand Refinery’s Silver Mentorship Programme.