Local businesses back ambitious social project


Two Makhanda businesses are helping lay the foundations for a solution to one of this city’s serious social problems. Sue Maclennan reports.

GBS Mutual Bank and Makana Brick have donated funding and land, respectively, to establish a LIV Lukhanyiso Village for 500 orphaned and vulnerable children in this city. Social entrepreneur Lara Kruiskamp spoke of her vision for the centre, and what the backing of the two Makhanda businesses meant for it, at a function earlier this month.

A Diocesan School for Girls and Rhodes University (B Comm Hons, 2001) alumna, Kruiskamp enjoyed a successful corporate career. An encounter with founder of LIV Village founder Tich Smith in 2011 brought her face to face with the elephant in the room.

“There are 5.2 million orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa,” Kruiskamp told a supportive audience in the Highlander. “There needs to be a sustainable solution.

“I decided to use business principles to bring sustainable social change. I wanted to give something back to my home town.”

Kruiskamp was convinced that the LIV Lukhanyo model offered that sustainable solution.

“In 2011, the first LIV village was opene in Durban,” Kruiskamp related.

There, more than 200 children live in a family environment, with a trained foster mother and a school.

In January this year, their first matriculants to come through the system all passed, with 15 distinctions, five university passes and one Diploma pass between them.

Kruiskamp described walking around what was then officially called Grahamstown with a property agent, looking for the right spot for the village.

According to the draft plan, it needs to accommodate not only family homes for 500 children and their foster mothers, but also a multipurpose hall, village square with a café and arts and craft centre, a conference centre, small business zone with a trade school and small industry, food gardens, a recycling centre, sports facilities, a school, early childhood development centre, health care centre, and general staff and volunteer accommodation.

“We found the perfect place, but there was just one problem,” Kruiskamp said. “It wasn’t for sale.

“So I told the owner I would pay him a R200 000 deposit and raise the balance.”

In 2013, Kruiskamp kicked off her social entrepreneurship path with seven marathons to raise the R200 000.

The owner was Makana Brick and a few months later, owner Colin Meyer contacted Kruiskamp to tell her he was donating 33ha to LIV Lukhanyiso.

This month saw another proudly local stalwart, GBS Mutual Bank, also commit to the project and Managing Director Anton Vorster proudly handed over a R200 000 cheque.

GBS is one of the smallest banks in South Africa and has adopted the policy of positively contributing towards the development of the town where it opened its doors as the Grahamstown Building Society in 1877.

“GBS Mutual Bank has become known as ‘the little bank with a big heart,’ Vorster told the Highlander audience.

The bank earlier this year donated R1.3 million to Makhanda-based projects. Of this, R600 000 was towards the improvement of public education in Makhanda.

“This [financial]year we’ve decided to support LIV Lukhanyiso, and we’re proud to be associated with the initiative,” Vorster said.

“Compared to the major funding that the project will need in time, this is a very small sum: we view it as seed funding,” Vorster said.

Addressing Kruiskamp, he said, “May you achieve your admirable goal of seeing this project come to life. May it rise up and be a beacon of hope for our community.”


* 33ha of land donated by local Grahamstown business, Makana Brick.
* R200 000 seed funding donated by GBS Mutual Bank
* Land subdivision and rezoning process is under way.
* Two town planners from CITEPLAN, Johannesburg have volunteered their services.

* Partnerships are being developed with existing organisations who have paved the way in taking care of the orphan and vulnerable children in the Eastern Cape.

* On the ground support for the two LIV Thokomala homes in the Eastern Cape
* Lukhanyiso Arts and Crafts – launched in 2018. A community member who herself was rescued as an orphan at the age three, has been up-skilled in the areas of sewing and entrepreneurship.
* Lukhanyiso Landscaping – launched in 2017. Several community members have been up skilled and involved in the beautification of the High Street of Grahamstown and other projects.

LIV Business is established to ensure future LIV Villages become self-sustainable and can support many other LIV Villages across Southern Africa. LIV Business provides skills development and job opportunities for communities surrounding the villages. The LIV model aims to offer companies the opportunity to do business with them, and in so doing, partner with them.

Partnering with Kruiskamp to drive the project is Nomonde (Mo) Ndlangisa. She has served on the LIV Lukhanyiso Board of Directors since 2016 and in January 2019 she joined the LIV Lukhanyiso leadership team in a full time capacity. Mo came to Grahamstown  in 2008 from Pimville Soweto to study at Rhodes University.

Lara Kruiskamp Marketing
082 829 5853 | lara@liv-lukhanyiso.com
Nomonde Ndlangisa Operations
072 777 6229 | nomonde@liv-lukhanyiso.com

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