How does one strike a balance between being socially responsible and generous and being a profitmaking business?

The issue of being socially responsible is a regular topic of discussion around boardroom tables. Giving back and being generous to benefit society and communities is critical, and it is vital for the future success of South Africa. Striking a balance between making a profit and benefitting society continues to remain on the agenda as does the upskilling of our growing unemployed population.

The focus on upskilling has for the most part been awarded to those who are based in the cities, whilst those based in smaller towns and rural communities, are often forgotten. A renewed focus must be given to those living in the smaller towns and rural areas who live great distances from the cities. Access to good transport networks, to learning facilities and organisations challenges individuals and as a result are unable to enrol onto skills programmes.

It is understandable that the skills offering is narrower, and at times non-existent in rural communities, and making a profit whilst benefitting society will remain a precarious balancing act to ensure sustainability. Is the onus on business to creatively look at how to bring solutions to the areas that lack access to mainstream offerings?

We believe that the solution is to offer targeted learning interventions and skills programmes to both employers and to unemployed learners in a centrally located rural town that also offers student accommodation to those that are from areas outside of the town. Omni HR Consulting (specifically) offers type of solution at Moorreesburger: a Food and Beverage Academy that combines a learning facility, restaurant, bakery, brewery and tasting room in one location in Moorreesburg a small town in the Swartland.

OMNI is especially proud of their Bakery Skills Programme which has seen unemployed youth attend an accredited eight-week programme which allows them to become Bakery Assistants upon completion. Learners are then able to be employed within a bakery or retail environment or start their own home bake business. Bakery skills are a scarce skill and these learners are able to find employment either locally or in nearby towns or cities upon completion of their programme. In an entrepreneurial spirit, some may go on to provide baked goods in their [own] communities and become socially responsible citizens.

This focused approach which sees the learner attend classroom training and spend time practically applying their learning in a fully functional and equipped bakery which supplies to the Moorreesburger restaurant and being accommodated onsite contributes to the success of the learning programme and has allowed over 28 learners to complete the programme successfully over the past year.

The programme is also extended as a commercial offering to larger organisations wishing to upskill current employees, or who are wanting to take on new employees in their bakery environment. The programme can be customised in that we can deliver smaller learning programmes based on an organisations’ operational needs.

We believe the success of this programme is not only in the short term where learners graduate with new skills, but in the longer term where learners are allowed a new career in a bakery environment, and an improved quality of life which they may never have been exposed to had they not been granted an opportunity within a rural community.