Speech by CEO of Old Mutual Foundation, Mr Andile Ncontsa at the launch of DAC and Old Mutual Legends Programme, Polokwane, Limpopo

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23 Sep 2009

Your Excellency Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Lulu Xingwana MP,
Honourable MEC, Sport, Arts and Culture, Ms Joyce Mashamba
Honourable MEC, Public Works, Mr George Phadagi
Chief Neckson Shavhani Chairman of the Old Mutual Provincial Management Board
Deputy Speaker and Members of the Legislature
Heads of Departments, CEO’s of DAC Institutions
Councillors and Heritage Activist
Craft producers
My colleuges from Old Mutual & the DAC,
Guests, and Friends in Heritage
Programme Director, Dr Fikile Dilika
Ladies and Gentlemen, All protocol observed

I must say right from the outset that I am pretty humbled by the confluence if not the conspiracy of coincidence that have conjured the possibility that we should launch this historic public private partnership in Polokwane - a land of myths and legends; the land of breathtaking scenery and landscape; a land of rich African cultures and ancient civilisations; and of course home to the mopani worm, the exquisite cycad and the majestic baobab tree.

Our business is a global business, yet our heart and roots are as firmly rooted in South Africa as the roots of the baobab tree. For this reason, it should be expected that we are committed to contributing towards the creation of business skills that are linked with protection and preservation of our heritage and the planet for future generations to come.

Our guiding principle is that “What is good for South Africa is good for Old Mutual”. As a leading investment and savings business, we are well positioned to be at the forefront of driving the quest for “prosperity for all”. As a business, we do not have a separate business unit for social business – we exist to drive social and economic prosperity for all in everything that we do. This is at the heart of how we do business whether we provide financial advice to the richest or the poorest of the poor or whether we invest in a major electricity generation plant or a craft business.

Our involvement with Craft Industries is not new. We started with the Old Mutual Master Crafts Programme in 2003 where crafters were taught the ins and outs of product design. In 2005 we established GIFTWAREHOUSE, in partnership with the CCDI in the Western Cape. GIFT is a craft and market access facilitation outlet for emerging craft producers. The CCDI has subsequently gone on to be a significant player in the development of craft industry provincial strategies in two more provinces: Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal and nationally working with the DTI. In 2007, we expanded our reach into the current Old Mutual Legends Programme focussing particularly on business skills, personal transformation, resilience and market access. Our lessons to date indicate that the craft sector requires significant intervention. The barriers preventing crafters from accessing the formal market include a lack of basic business skills, product design, production skills and access to information and markets.

The rationale for this partnership is clear and long awaited. The DAC has traditionally focused on training and skills development, with a strong emphasis on community stipends for beneficiaries, while Old Mutual has focused more towards enterprise development, financial viability and income generation.

These independent developmental interventions from the DAC and Old Mutual have divinely cross-benefited projects such as Busy Bee Craft Centre in Tulbagh (Western Cape), Thaba Blinds in Qwaqwa (Free State) and Itshepeng Lejoaneng in Qwaqwa (Free State).

By entering into this public private partnership, we have both identified the urgent need to scale up the effort to reduce the number of people who are reliant on grants by creating a sufficient mass of truly sustainable, self-supporting businesses that provide decent jobs and income to local people, especially those in vulnerable communities. We want to transition craft producers from being given the proverbial “fish to eat”, beyond being taught how to fish, to ownership of the fishponds and the restaurants that sell fish!

I wish to thank the people who have driven this process this far and this fast. They are too many to mention but I would be amiss if I did not mention the operational leadership of Dr Fikile Dilika and the strategic guidance of the Director General, Themba Wakashe.

If there are any two people to be blamed or praised for the success or failure of this marriage, it is Nomvula Mbangela, Director Investing in Culture and Julius Dantile, Provincial Coordinator Western, Investing in Culture. These two are truly remarkable public servants. We should not wait until they leave or die to sing their praises. I must also reserve a special mention for Cathy Wijnberg, Programme Director of the Old Mutual Legends Programme, which as you now know, from tonight, it is being officially renamed, the DAC-Old Mutual Legends Programme. We also wish to thank the Minister and the Deputy Minister for their visionary leadership and enthusiastic support for this programme.

This is just the beginning. The next obvious partnership is between this Department and Old Mutual in the National Choir Festival.

I shall now close by playing you a one minute video to show you what we are doing in other aspects of arts and culture by bringing families together through music and collaboration in the Old Mutual Encounters in three cities; how we are preserving our intangible heritage through choral music in the National Choir Festival and how we celebrate and lift our spirit through Old Mutual’s support of Joyous celebration.

Ke ya leboga; Ndo livhuwa; Ndza khensa; Baie dankie; Ndiyabulela; Thank you