Lerato Motale started Zekhala Charcoal which, today, is responsible for creating employment in rural Eastern Cape and removing the invasive Black Wattle Tree.
Hogsback, South Africa (18 August 2022) – Addressing unemployment in South Africa can only be done by creating jobs. South Africans are innovative, and many have the capacity to start businesses that create jobs and support communities. Lerato Motale is one of those innovative people who saw a problem and created a solution.
Lerato wanted to start a business, and when she saw just how bad the Black Wattle Tree was for the environment, she knew she could do something about it. Lerato started Zekhala Charcoal, a business that culls Black Wattle trees, turning them into locally produced charcoal.
Black Wattle is a water-thirsty invasive alien plant that causes significant issues for the ecosystems in which it is found. Clearing it provides the perfect resources for the high-grade charcoal Lerato produces.
Her business not only benefits the rural villages where they harvest these trees, but it creates employment within the very same rural communities.
While Lerato was able to establish the business, she needed some support to really make it a thriving one. This is where Barloworld’s Mbewu programme stepped in.
The Barloworld Mbewu Fund emphasises incubating social entrepreneurs operating in rural landscapes, putting significant emphasis on both environmental stewardship and social impact, whilst at the same time driving growth, scalability, and sustainable revenue models of predominantly women-owned enterprises.
Mbewu means seed, and Barloworld helps plant the seed to grow businesses by mentoring and coaching, offering grants and loans as well as emotional capacity building and support needed to create long-term impact and success for rural businesses.
Lerato’s success will change many things; creating employment, boosting the rural economy, removing harmful plants from the environment, providing affordable fuel sources and improving the water supply.