Cape Town, Day 5

Monday, March 13

Today we headed out to Heart Capital and the Kayamandi Township in Stellenbosch. Mandy Shrimpton and Loyiso Mbete hosted us, including a description of their projects and a tour of Kayamandi.  What were you impressions of their various projects: Vegetable Gardens, Home Building, Spekboom Trees?  What take-aways did you gain from Heart Capital’s approach to social franchise models?

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31 Responses to “Cape Town, Day 5”

  1. Phil Says:

    This was my favorite company visit of the trip. The vision of Heart Capital was fantastic – supplying a sustainable business model, while at the same time balancing the delicate act of support from the township by recruiting Loyiso to be the ambassador and head entrepreneur.

    Walking around the township was also a fantastic experience, and allowed us to understand the socioeconomic conditions, businesses, and lifestyles we had missed during our Lutzville visit.

  2. Samantha Frapart Says:

    By far, the most interesting company visit and a great representation of CSR in SA. Heart Capital is doing phenomenal work for this township, not only providing jobs to members of the community, but a also healthier lifestyle in a place where conditions are by no means healthy.

    Though I was not super comfortable with the township tour (mostly because I have some negative feelings about poverty tourism), it was eye-opening and important to experience. I worked for UNICEF for two years before coming to McCombs. I had written countless fundraising emails and marketing campaigns with stories from all over Africa and the Middle East. But to see it close up – to see that the words I had written were not only true but paled in comparison to the actual daily experience of these impoverished communities – was astonishing.

  3. Eugene Shearer Says:

    I was impressed by Heart Capital. Having seen quite a few non-profits supporting sustainable development in Kenya, I saw how ineffective organizations like Heart Capital could be. However, Heart Capital was very effective in accomplishing their mission. Many organizations I saw in Kenya struggled to accomplish their mission whether it was because of a lack of funding, lack of labor, or corruption, the organizations in Kenya were not very successful. We were able to physically see the fruits of Heart Capital’s efforts in their vegetable garden. The houses they were planning on building were also really impressive and I hope we are able to go back and help them build some of these houses in the next Global Connections trip.

  4. Sam Says:

    The highlight of the company visits for me. To hear the passion that Mandy had for their organization, and their ability to recruit and train incredibly competent people like Loyiso, gave me hope that FoodPods and other undertakings from Heart Capital would be impactful. My only wish was that we could have done this visit prior to going to Lutzville and Doringbaai; that way we could have seen how small sustainable businesses can grow in a place like Kayamandi and transfer some of those ideas to our ThinkImpact stay.

  5. John Says:

    What an incredible day! We got an up-close look at a company making real progress, met the people involved, and heard about some of the challenges they were facing. Then we got a tour of the local township to provide real context to the company’s works, which I found very valuable.

    Income inequality exists everywhere in the world, but the starkness of Cape Town’s differences was very much on display today. We started and ended the day in the opulence of Pepperclub—a world that the vast majority of the city (and especially those we met today) will never know. Social mobility is a positive universal goal, but today was a humbling reminder of the value of incremental progress and recognizing the ways we’re uniquely positioned to empower the disenfranchised.

  6. Tyler Says:

    This was also my favorite company visit of our trip. I thought the sustainable home building project in particular was fantastic! Especially when you can look out at Kayamandi and see so many sheet metal dwellings with stark living conditions. The vegetable gardening is obviously a boon to the community. And the carbon sequestration – while a drop in the bucket globally – from the spekboom trees was a definite step in the right direction. Heart Capital’s social franchise model seemed to be making a real impact, small steps at a time. The issue of poverty in South Africa is deceivingly complicated and Heart Capital can’t solve that issue on its own. But I’m a fan of the grassroots approach and the township visit was eye opening for me.

  7. Linda Says:

    This company visit definitely pulled me out of my comfort zone. I don’t think we expected to get as “down and dirty” as we did! I was on weed-pulling duty which was strangely satisfying work.

    I had one question – did the people in the sponsored township get to enjoy the fruits of their labor or did they just sell it? I ask because vegetables were not present in Doringbaai or that neighboring township of Kayamandi. The older women in Doringbaai were overweight and the young children bordered on malnourished. I thought that these communities could benefit from a more balanced diet. But it could be that the proceeds from selling the vegetables do more good than the nutrients they provide.

  8. Bill Quach Says:

    The Heart Capital visit was extremely valuable and something I wish we got to see before leaving for Doringbaai and Lutzville. The impact Mandy and Loyiso were making seemed substantial and sustainable and like great first steps towards improving social mobility within Cape Town. The Kayamandi township was eye opening and a huge contrast between the mansions and landscapes many of us witnessed the night before in Camps Bay. It was great to see that the school seemed well funded and my favorite sport, bicycling, was a part of their community. Lastly, the braai was the best food I had on the Western Cape hands down, and yes, I went to the Test Kitchen.

  9. Caley Says:

    I really enjoyed the Heart Capital visit. After witnessing true poverty in Lutzville, it made me hopeful to see a non-profit creating safe housing and jobs. I pulled more weeds in that hour and a half than I ever have before, my dad (who handles the Goldblatt landscaping) would be very proud. I hope we can stay in touch with Mandy and continue to provide support for the project.

  10. Garry Ferguson Says:

    Monday, 13 March: Heart Capital was a noble entity that did exactly what I think should be done in terms of bringing the opportunity for a dignified life to people who once did not have that opportunity. Heart Capital championed a profound goal of teaching men to fish rather than giving them fish so that they may provide a lifetime of sustenance for themselves and their families. I love the concept, but Heart Capital is only able to take a small bite out of the problem, unfortunately. Given the enormity of the issue, it will take time and additional initiatives by kindhearted folks like those of Heart Capital to get future generations on track in South Africa. While at Heart Capital we were able to partake in their horticulture business. My assignment was to clip pieces of CO2 scrubbing vegetation while others stripped and planted it. It was mindless, yet cathartic and helpful to the community. I think later on this day I went to Table Mountain and experienced the magic of Cape Town as the sun set on another gorgeous day in South Africa.

  11. Parnali Says:

    Heart Capital was such a fulfilling visit of our trip. From hearing Mindy, who is an extremely admirable and loving individual speak – to also listening to Loylso’s perspective of supporting his nearby village I was very inspired. While of course the work being done at Heart Capital is very commendable, I was particularly touched by the reason Mindy indicated as sparking her and Paul’s interest in bringing Heart Capital to life. She told us that Paul had this idea when he was very ill in a hospital, unsure of whether he would make it or not. Though we all hear this often – the idea of making an impact only once your life seems to be nearing its ends, I think its very important that we all actively hear these stories and begin making these impacts while we are healthy, happy and able. Hearing Paul’s story reminded me to act on the desires I have to help others in third world countries sooner rather than later – you never know when it may be too late.

  12. Mansi Narula Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this visit and it fit the theme of the trip really well.It is clear that Paul and Mindy are very thoughtful about what they invest in and I like that they empower individuals within the community to lead the projects. I find the social franchise model to be rather interesting and would really like to see more specifics around the different projects they have implemented. Furthermore, the projects seem like they are on a smaller scale and the need is far greater. I wonder if they can scale the franchise model and perhaps grown the investor base.

  13. Alana Says:

    Heart Capital was inspiring. I wanted to buy a house and build it for a family! Heart Capital’s franchise model is a good idea. Its a way to empower community leadership. I also like the focus of agriculture and selling to vegetables to the Township. I also thought the idea of selling plants with the environmental focus was interesting. I had a couple of questions about the market and interest of the purchasing the plants.

    I had a great time at Heart Capital. I wish that we could have had more time to talk and volunteer with Heart Capital.

  14. Nick Eyer Says:

    I found our entire Heart Capital visit to be fascinating. First, it was inspirational to see how Heart Capital is making a real difference in underprivileged townships. Second, while definitely not glamorous work, it felt like I made a meaningful, tangible contribution to their efforts by working with my classmates to plant Spekbooms in bags of compost. Next, it was certainly eye-opening to walk through the township. Near the top of the hill I took a moment to look out over the township, and the contrasting view of the township with the vast mountainous terrain in the background was powerful to say the least. In this township, just like in Lutzville, the kids were so excited just to see you, and weren’t shy about running up to you and holding your hand. I really enjoyed our visit with Heart Capital, and I left wishing I could do more to help out with their cause.

  15. Micah Says:

    Our visit to Heart Capital was the most impressive business-related activity on the trip. Their business model and the attitudes of the people that work there were impressive, and I hope they are successful. While I hadn’t expected to shovel compost in the heat, it was nice to get our hands dirty and help as best we could in the time we were there. I would be interested to get updates on their progress.

  16. Caroline Says:

    Heart Capital was wonderful. I wish we could have spent more time learning about their business and working on a longer-term project with them, rather than just a half-day visit. The group I was in did our presentation on Heart Capital, and it definitely exceeded our expectations. They were well organized, ambitious, dedicated, and seemed to understand very well the complexities in which they were working. Although I was not dress for picking weeds, but am grateful I did that task instead of the alternative, we had a nice time chatting as a group while attempting to distinguish between a weed and a fledgling spinach plant.

    The neighborhood around Heart Capital was just devastating though. While I am glad that we did the tour, I was too sad to take photos. It seemed like their reality was put on display as a tourism activity for us. It did remind me how incredibly lucky I am and how I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can do my best to help, such as contributing to a home, or buying a tunnel for them in the future.

  17. Preeta Maitra Says:

    I really loved our visit to Heart Capital. It was great to see how Heart Capital helps empower the people in the townships and gives them a means to support and nourish themselves. In South Africa it seems like there are a lot of welfare programs that just give money but don’t actually help people improve their lives in a sustainable way. Heart Capital’s model seems to be one great possible solution to that problem.

  18. Samantha Toth Says:

    Our visit to Heart Capital was a transition back to the other “side” of South Africa. I appreciated learning about Heart Capital’s social franchise model, which is designed to encourage local entrepreneurs by equipping them with farming pods that they can cultivate to grow saleable produce. To me, the success of the model depended on the local manager, Loyiso, and his ability to educate and motivate local entrepreneurs. I appreciated Mandy’s approach as the owner of Heart Capital. She multiple time emphasized Loyiso’s role and ultimate ownership of the Kayamandi pod. I wish that we could have spent more time hearing from Loyiso directly about the business side of the operations and his plan for the future. This was the strongest model for social enterprise we saw in the townships.

  19. Renee Weissend Says:

    Heart Capital has such a peaceful, proactive, and sustainable feel to it. I enjoyed hearing about the houses they build using materials which keep it cool in summer and warm in winter! What a treat to satisfy my green thumb and help garden as well! It was a wonderful afternoon and makes my heart happy to know that there are people on the ground in South Africa determined to improve lives.

  20. Rooma Chi Says:

    The projects Heart Capital takes on are a great way to empower the local community to take control of healthy eating and a great way to teach them real skills to help them earn a living and give them ownership. After hearing how another Heart Capital project failed in a different city because of thugs, I realized the need for a strong leader who is well embedded in the community. Loyiso seemed to know his community very well and that seems to help him control the environment in which Heart Capital operates. During the Q&A, I asked a naïve question of what their plan is to scale up the housing project to the whole township but it was only after seeing the whole township and learning that it houses about 65,000 people did I realize that Heart Capital’s model only works on a relatively small scale but still provides a much needed positive impact in the community.

  21. Kristin Johnson Says:

    This was definitely my favorite company trip of the trip. This was a visit where we could all see the positive output that this business is generating as well as getting to contribute to the work behind the scenes, too. The homes and vegetables that Heart Capital are producing have a very clear impact on the people that they are trying to help and I would love to contribute with our class to donating towards a house.

  22. Adriana Penalba Says:

    I really enjoyed visiting Heart Capital. I thought each of their projects were great ideas. I like that they are slowing expanding while insuring that each project they implement is sustainable. Social franchising seems like a lovely idea as well. They setup projects around the country without having to grow their employee base in a country where resources and donors are probably a little bit more difficult to come by.

  23. Moni Says:

    Having done the pre-trip research on Heart Capital, I was excited for this visit and it did not disappoint. It was fascinating to learn about the carbon eliminating functions and taste of Spekboom. I spent the afternoon stripping the Spekboom to be ready for planting. My hands got very stained from the stem juices and made me realize how rare I actually get my hands dirty. It was interesting to hear about the Heart Capital model but I didn’t realize how small scale the projects actually were, especially after visiting the rest of the township. I wish there was a sustainable way to scale up this social enterprise model. Another important takeaway was the value in partnering with Loyiso, an embedded resident of the township that was respected by the entire community. It felt much different touring the townships with Loyiso than it did in Lutzville.

  24. Kavita Says:

    This visit was fascinating. It was really nice to hear more about what Heart Capital did, and then see the fruits of their efforts (pun intended) in front of us. It was especially interesting to get to walk around the township after lunch and hear more about how Kayamundi was split into the “poor”, “less poor” and “not so poor” as our guide explained it.

  25. Baoxin Says:

    Heart Capital is my favorite company visit. It’s fascinating to see how Heart Capital help the township gradually get the on the right track through a sustainable way. Compared to such a big township, what Heart Capital can do is very little. But when I walked around the community, saw people greeting with Loyiso, saw the children running happily, and saw the lily flowers planted behind the humble shelter, I realized that the most meaningful thing Heart Capital has brought to the community is not only the new homes and the vegetable garden, but the faith in better life.

  26. Swati Seth Says:

    This was by far one of the best company visits during the trip. It showed that you do not necessarily need massive capital and investment to make a difference in a community. Their business model of providing sustainable livelihood to local farmers and people within the township were extremely clever and appealing. Moreover, hiring someone like Loyisa to manage the operations was also a smart move to get buy in from people in the township. The tour of Kayamandi clearly exposed the dichotomy of the South African society at the moment.

  27. Lauren Busch Says:

    I loved the work that Heart Capital is doing in communities like the Kayamandi Township. It’s vertical integration at its finest – and simplest. It was amazing to me the amount of food and impact in general this project produced. It was also great to hear firsthand how Loyiso managed the whole thing. What a great opportunity for him!

    While scooping up compost (read: manure) wasn’t my favorite activity, it was nice to feel like I was contributing to the cause. My only wish for this particular visit was that we heard more about the operations. The overview gave us a good picture of how it all worked, but I think there was much more to learn about the sustainability measures Heart Capital has put in place in various townships.

  28. Frank Jia Says:

    On one hand, it was very inspiring to see how Heart Capital is making a real difference in Kayamandi. The self-sustaining model is innovative and I am so glad that we have made small contribution to their efforts. On the other hand, I was deeply shocked by the fact that more than 13 millions people in South Africa live in that kind of harsh situation lacking the basic sanitation. I understand that this is a complex and intertwined problem caused by the issues left over by history, the inaction by government, and the lack of education, but there is definitely more good can be done by NGOs such as Heart Capital to improve the situation.

  29. Brian Murphy Says:

    Sam: posing for photo. Brian: weeding in the background

    I had a great time at Heart Capital – really inspiring to see the work Mandy and her husband were doing. Beyond the sustainable business model, I loved seeing the low-budget upgrades they would make to the huts – like the Coke bottle lamp shades! Awesome.

  30. Katie Thigpen Says:

    Favorite company visit by far. In my opinion, sustainable practices are the only way to truly create change. I thought the new houses that HC was building in the town were wonderful (and colorful). Planting the spekboom trees was quite the experience but our little team made an assembly line and cranked ’em out! We felt accomplished and hope those little spekboom trees have grown! Also, was fun to taste them.

  31. Natasha Mayekar Says:

    I really loved hearing about Heart Capital’s initiatives and seeing how such a simple business model do wonders for the community. Though I did not particularly enjoy the stench and feel of the manure, I did appreciate being a part of the overall cause. Walking through the townships gave me a more clear picture of the disparity that exists within South Africa and how there is still so much that needs to be done. I really wish we had the opportunity to work more with Heart Capital during this trip.

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