Learning successful business and entrepreneurship skills at school

WESSA  and Teach A Man To Fish, with funding of EUR600,000 received from EuropeAid, are providing 6,000 learners from forty schools KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces with an opportunity to gain practical business skills by setting up and running an educational and environmentally sustainable enterprise at their school.  Over a period of three years, learners and educators from forty schools will attend training and receive support in topics that will build learners’ knowledge, skills and confidence towards either becoming entrepreneurs or becoming better prepared for future studies. A further fifty out-of-school youth in KwaZulu-Natal will gain entrepreneurial skills by undergoing a training programme with Business World Development Trust (BWDT) based on a Level 2 New Venture Creation qualification on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

The EEESAY project (Entrepreneurial and Environmental Empowerment for South African Youth) is based on the successful School Enterprise Challenge programme run by Teach A Man To Fish, and it is intensely practical in nature. This international awards programme has already led to 25 profitable student-led businesses schools in South Africa; improved exam marks in participating schools in KZN; and enabled learners to start their own profitable businesses out of school.

The project will take place in the Chris Hani and Amathole districts of the Eastern Cape and Utukhela and Amajuba districts of KwaZulu-Natal.  Ten schools from each district have been selected to participate and they will attend various workshops, receive support visits, and an annual market place event where they will share their learning with other schools.  This support will deepen learners’ understanding of and skills for the business world and in how to plan and implement a successful business. On completing the project learners will have the skills and experience to either set up their own business, go on to further education or succeed in the workplace.

The project provides step-by-step experiential learning on how to identify business opportunities, apply sound business planning and then implement robust business plans to generate a profit.  Schools can invest the profits to develop both the school and school business. At the same time it is a great opportunity for teachers to continue their own professional development.




Sue Spies, WESSA Schools Programme Project Manager
Email sue.spies@wessa.co.za or cell 082 663 6692


Susannah Morcowitz, Teach A Man to Fish Programmes and Monitoring and Evaluation Manager
Email susannah@teachamantofish.org.uk or cell 079 859 6870

Rural learners connect the Big Five and Little Five

Filmed Series to air each Saturday on Disney Channel

WESSA, in partnership with Africa Foundation and andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, launched a new environmental education project in the Mduku area of Umkhanyakude district, Northern KwaZulu-Natal in 2016, and is now able to appraise the many successes it achieved.

Funded by Disney through the Africa Foundation (USA), the project targeted 210 learners from five rural schools in the communities surrounding Phinda. Over a period of nine months, the project developed the learners’ appreciation for nature and increased their ecological knowledge.

Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303) has begun airing a special series of live-action shorts entitled “Eco Club”, which follows the learners as they participated in the programme. The series will air every Saturday at 06:50AM (CAT), culminating in a programming block on Earth Day, April 22nd, from 12:20.

The project was delivered through in-school learning and active participation in a range of nature and biodiversity-focused activities. WESSA’s implementation of the Eco-Schools programme at the participating schools also contributed to whole-school development by providing the structure for environmental considerations to be included in all school management decisions.

The cornerstones of the project were that learners and teachers had the opportunity to encounter the “big five” species of animals at Phinda and learn about the lesser known “little five” whilst in the camp. Both the “big five” species – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard – and the “little five” – elephant shrew, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver, ant lion and leopard tortoise – are found at Phinda. On return to their schools the learners were able to create their school’s own wilderness area by planting an indigenous garden. Learners then monitored the habitats they had created to see when any of the “little five” took up residence in the school grounds.

The excursions to Phinda – characterised by much excitement and enthusiasm – were undoubtedly a highlight for all the learners. Forty learners and six teachers from each school spent a night in the reserve where they experienced Phinda’s diversity of habitats and abundant wildlife. During their excursions, learners had their first game drive and participated in a specially-developed environmental learning programme around the connections between the “big five” and “little five.” The game drives helped to develop awareness among learners, of the need for conservation and an understanding of the role we all play in promoting nature and biodiversity. Reflecting back on the experience with the learners proved that each excursion had left an indelible mark in the life of each child.

A further successful program of the andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and Africa Foundation Eco-Schools Project was to develop the capacity of teachers at the participating schools. Over the course of the year, a series of four workshops was held for the teachers to equip them with the skills required to deliver effective environmental learning in the classroom. The first workshop took place at Bayete Camp in Phinda, where the teachers experienced first-hand the rich natural heritage located close to their schools. The next three workshops focused on developing teachers’ understanding of the aims of the Eco-Schools programme and looked specifically at the programme’s unique “Seven Steps” approach to whole school development, which complements the school curricula while at the same time stimulating active community participation.

At the conclusion of the project in early December, an event was held in the Mduku community to recognise and celebrate the work done throughout the year by the learners, educators and other project partners. A special award was presented to Nkomo Full Service School for achieving highest success with their newly planted trees. Both Nkomo and Mdudla Primary Schools will be featured in “Eco Club” as it airs on Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303).

The project has created a special relationship between the Mduku learners and the natural environment. Should they return to their school 20 years from now they will be able to take pride in seeing the grove of trees they planted and fully appreciate the importance of conserving our natural resources for current and future generations.

The overall enthusiasm for the project was evident in the words of a teacher from Qomukuphila Primary School who said, “We will adopt the forest adjacent to the school. The local Chief had given the land to the schools to build a hall, but that will become our forest and the hall can be built within the current school yard. No single tree will be removed from that forest. That’s a promise.”


Fishing in the Tsitsikamma MPA endangers our national fish stocks

WESSA is strongly opposed to the recent bid to open the Tsitsikamma National Park Marine Protected Area to recreational and subsistence fishing as we believe that this move would endanger our national fish stocks.
The National Department of Environmental Affairs (the DEA) has made this proposal at the behest of disadvantaged rural communities in the coastal area surrounding the Marine Protected Area (MPA), who historically fished this coastline but whose fishing access has been completely denied since 2001.
The DEA has previously made two attempts, in 2007 and 2010, to open this MPA to fishing at the behest of these communities.  Then as now WESSA remains strongly opposed to permitting any form of fishing in the Tsitsikamma MPA, as we are certain that this would significantly compromise this critical marine biodiversity area. 
The vital importance of no-take MPAs in conserving fish broodstocks and in being able to set sustainable fishing quotas is globally acknowledged in fisheries management.
The Tsitsikamma MPA is a refuge for eleven of South Africa’s seventeen threatened fish species and encompasses essential breeding grounds for the line-fish and squid fisheries, according to research by WWF-SA’s Living Waters Partnership.  
Outside of the Tsitsikamma and other MPAs our fish stocks have been severely over-exploited, some close to the point of total collapse.  The refuge populations in the MPAs are the last remaining healthy broodstock, which seeds the denuded coastline with juvenile fish. The greater size and maturity of fish protected within MPAs ensures that they can produce a considerably greater number of viable offspring than the sparse populations in unprotected areas. 
While WESSA is cognisant and empathetic of the complex issues surrounding the access by disadvantaged rural communities to marine resources, we believe that the marine biodiversity protected within the Tsitsikamma National Park MPA is of immense value to the nation as a whole and that its protected status should not be compromised by the needs of a few. 
Morgan Griffiths, WESSA’s Environmental Governance spokesperson, says:  “We have over-utilised most of our finite natural resources to such an extent that there is now simply not enough left to satisfy everyone’s wants and needs. We now need to make these difficult choices about who gets what limited access to these dwindling resources. Who has the greater need? What is the greater good that needs to be objectively protected?”
For more information contact:
Morgan Griffiths
WESSA Environmental Governance Programme Manager
Tel: 041 585 9606 ǀ Cell: 072 417 5793
Email: morgan.griffiths@wessa.co.za
Catherine Ritchie
WESSA Marketing & Communications Manager
Tel:  021 701 1397 ǀ Cell:  082 321 2794
Additional background information:
  • WESSA has written to the National Department of Environmental Affairs with an official objection against permitting fishing in the Tsitsikamma MPA.  This letter may be viewed via this link.
  • WESSA supported the creation of the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 1964, whose principal objective was to conserve a fish breeding and dispersal site for seeding the flanking coastline.  The Tsitsikamma MPA was declared a completely ‘no-take’ zone in 2001 by Minister Valli Moosa because of the urgent and scientifically-justified need to protect the national line-fish stocks from total collapse.
  • It would seem that only 9% of South Africa’s coastline is currently declared as a no-take MPAs.  WESSA understands that the national target for no-take MPAs is 10%, hence to allow fishing to resume in the Tsitsikamma would be to directly act against this national conservation goal.
  • The local, disadvantaged rural communities have identified that fishing had formed part of their culture and fish an important component of their diet.  This and the lack of access to alternative fishing sites has caused a significant number of the members of these communities to illegally fish within the MPA.
  • WESSA has in the past supported the scientifically-justified sustainable utilisation of natural resources in protected areas by local communities; but in this case, we feel the national interest needs to prevail.  WESSA recognises that the local communities do need to derive more direct and indirect benefits from the TNP (particularly that of jobs) and to gain additional access opportunities to the TNP.  These benefits flowing from the TNP need to be more fairly shared across the different Tsitsikamma community groups and individuals.  We recognise that SANParks has improved their engagement with the neighbouring communities over the last few years, but that greater capacity development initiatives are needed for these communities and for them to get more say in management of the TNP.
  • To allow fishing of this national asset is comparably to spending the capital of a national inheritance and not just sustainably utilising the annual natural interest.  By allowing a local minority to access this valuable natural resource would ultimately make the much broader national community of subsistence, commercial and recreational fishers dependent on this MPA even poorer.

Rivers for Life swimmer to take on the Orange River

This will be the third event of the “Rivers for Life” extreme swimming challenge that was launched by the Capetonian in 2015. The challenge involves a small group of athletes that is attempting to swim a distance of 100 to 350km in a major river in each of South Africa’s nine provinces.

Andrew plans to start his swim on the Orange River at the Vanderkloof Dam in the Northern Cape.  He will proceed to Orania for the second leg of his swim, and continue on to Hopetown, Prieska, Groblershoop, Upington and Kakamas before concluding his swim near Onseepkans.

The first swim took place in the Wilge River in the Free State in January 2015, during which Andrew Chin and Toks Viviers swam 200km over a period of 10 days. In October 2015 high water pollution levels and exceptionally low flows forced him and fellow swimmer Henko Roukema to abandon their quest to swim the length of the Berg River. Their goal had been to swim the Berg from source to sea, but the polluted water caused such illness in the team that they were forced to call off the swim after completing 135km of the river’s 294km length.

This unfortunate outcome did, however, serve to reinforce the central message of the “Rivers for Life” campaign, which is that our country’s rivers are in a severe state of deterioration. Their efforts further stimulated critical discussion and action by the relevant authorities to further engage with landowners, affected communities and the general public to save our country’s vital water resources.

During the Orange River swim Andrew is expecting to experience a relatively clean river, although low water levels and some pollution around riverside towns is anticipated.

Andrew plans to connect with community members as well as learners at local schools along the way, where he will be conducting short talks on the importance of our rivers and the role that everyone needs to play in looking after them.  WESSA is once again equipping Andrew with the skills required to conduct river health tests using the popular miniSASS citizen science tool, which is used to calculate a river health index based on the collection and identification of invertebrates in a water sample.  Andrew will be collecting data from the Orange River using this tool and the results will be uploaded to the www.minisass.org Google Earth map and database, where they will contribute to building a picture of the health of South Africa’s rivers.

WESSA strongly supports this initiative, which is in line with the organisation’s aim to promote public awareness and participation in caring for the earth. One of WESSAs key objectives is to promote the health of strategic water catchments and rivers through the monitoring and reporting of the state of our country’s water resources.

The swim will be supported by a number of sponsors including Travel with Flair (Cape Town), Grapevine Interactive, Speedo South Africa and Aqua4Life. Backup will be provided by Gravity Adventures.


Photo links and captions:

Rivers for Life:   Swimmers Andrew Chin in the Berg River in Franschhoek, near the start of their swim in October 2015.  Photo credit:  WESSA

Radio broadcasters please note:

Andrew Chin is available for interviews both prior to his departure and while on the river from 18 – 24 October. Cell phone access may be limited at times but he will respond to messages as soon as possible.  Contact Andrew on 083 708 1390.