Bergnek Community Projects Cooperative

Bergnek Community Projects Cooperative, is a My Arms Wide Open Community Empowerment Initiative that supports the people of Bergnek in Limpopo, South Africa. It's co-led by a local called Keabetswe Mosumane, whose story inspired him to do all he could to better the circumstance for women, youth and children of his home town.

The coops goal is to transfer skills within and outside the community through a number of development opportunities. Each of the projects they take on start as a locally based business venture serving needs identified by the people themselves. The projects support food security, education, infrastructure, and leadership development within Bergnek to ultimately empower our community to sustain itself from within.

We invite innovators and impact investors to engage with the people of Bergnek so you can better understand the situation on the ground, then develop and invest in proposals that will provide us with tools needed to help our projects take off.

About Bergnek

Bergnek is a rural community in Limpopo, South Africa. There’s no internet yet, but most people have access to a mobile phone. Although only a few adults can communicate in English, most locals under 35 years can.

The community exists because in 1998 the government passed a land act that meant workers who were living on farms as part of their pay, could no longer do so. The farmers had to be given a fair wage instead. Although the intention was good, it meant many became homeless and pushed out of their jobs.

Secret To Success

What makes the work My Arms Wide Open does meaningful is its insistence to directly engage the people in the communities they serve. They work with locals in discovering, designing, developing and implementing trickle up opportunity that provides a sustainable means to increase livelihoods for generations yet to come.

Objective

The first thing My Arms Wide Open did was to engage a large group of the community, who drilled down into the core issues and challenges in the community. The first of which was the the total lack of water. the pump for the community pump had been stolen two years previous and the community members had to take what little money they had to buy water from a local farmer. My Arms Wide Open undertook to reactivate the well and purchase a new pump, which was completed in 2011. The pump was housed securely and dedicated to the children of Bergnek. No harm has come to it since.

The next step in the process was to address employment and working with Lunapads.com, My Arms Wide Open established GirlStuff, which employs locals in the manufacture and distribution of reusable, washable menstrual kits. The kits mean girls who would otherwise be ridiculed and drop out of education to stay on.

The next two projects involved building vertical gardens, to address food security challenges, and extending the water access and distribution in the Bergnek community as many of the elderly in the community still had to walk long distances for their water.

The water project was expanded even further with the help of Engineers Without Borders and is currently being implemented. This will lead to the development of a brick making business providing much needed employment.

Income generated by the business will be used to produce bricks for building much needed housing, and a small health care facility, at a significantly lower cost than what has been proposed by the regional government. The clinic will used by surrounding communities as well as the residents of Bergnek.

Call To Action

Blogs posted on this site give innovators access to the voices of the people, which means they can better identify how what they do can be developed and implemented for maximal impact out on the ground.

Share comments and ask questions about the projects. Sign in – request to be a member – then post blogs that share how what you do can help out. We'll use conversations from blog posts to work with you in developing and funding project proposals, whose solutions will help the people of Bergnek to increase their wellbeing, through economic empowerment from within.

Once implemented in Bergnek, your solutions will be shared with people and communities throughout the world.

Member Tutorial

Challenges

Other than community engagement and employment, challenges the Bergnek Community are needing to solve include:

  1. Food insecurity: there is not enough good food available in the community. They need to increase the output of the gardens project and turn it into a real business.

  2. Education: support for STEM and higher education opportunities.

  3. Skills transfer to support the establishment of local entrepreneurs in new business.

  4. Increased expansion of water distribution and access.

  5. Healthcare: providing services in pre-natal and post-natal care, children and senior citizens.

Offers

To attract finance for supporting this work, we've partnered with an investment cooperative. The role of the I3 Investment Cooperative is to triple impact on investments that manifest new economic opportunity. It does this by supporting projects taking an alternative, trickle-up approach for serving people and communities of underserved markets.

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