Description: The Beaufort-West Hydroponics Company was started as a section 21 company (reg.no. 2002/024355/08) in 2002 in order to create jobs in the Beaufort-West region where the unemployment rate was between 45% and 50%. The company is situated in the industrial area of Beaufort West and produces herbs using hydroponics. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was brought in to start the business in partnership with the Beaufort West Municipality, members and leaders of the community, the Provincial Department of Economic Development and Social Services (PDEDSS) and the National Department of Science and Teechnology (DST). Funding was provided by the DST (37%) and the PDEDSS (63%).
Innovation: This type of initiative was very ambitious but also very successful in training Beaufort West residents in an advanced form of cultivation and providing them with jobs. The Hydroponics method is effective because of the speed at which the product can be cultivated. The project was thoroughly researched and deemed to be feasible. Because it produces a quality product, it will be able to sustain itself.
Effectiveness: Employment is provided to about 60 people. The project staff was thoroughly trained at the University of Stellenbosch. The project is however producing a quality product and it is currently being sold to Woolworths. The project has not yet reached a point where it is self-sustaining but it is maintaining steady growth and hopes to be self-sustaining by the end of 2005. The Beaufort West Hydroponics company has also provided the catalyst for the establishment of two more local projects producing leather and essential oils and these projects have created 40 more jobs.
Poverty Impact: The jobs created through this project have had a significant impact on the previously unemployed people now earning salaries. The project is one of the biggest employers in the area and has contributed to the sustenance of a number of families.
Sustainability: As long as this project can remain a viable business entity, it will continue to be sustainable. The aim of the project is to sustain itself and, according to current predictions, this should take place in 6 months or so.
Replication: This project has provided a very good model for replication. As long as the initial capital is raised and a thorough feasibility test is done, a similar project could be started.