Worker committees on Waitrose Foundation member farms play a pivotal role in the identification, planning and delivery of projects that will contribute to social development in their respective communities. Building their capacity is therefore a critical step towards ensuring effective project delivery and sustainability.

The level of cooperation from farm owners has been exceptional. Many of them were willing to allow key farm workers, who hold responsible positions on the farm to attend the training sessions. Although we ensured that the training is scheduled at the most convenient times for the farm, we still interpreted this gesture from owners as an expression of their support of development initiatives that can benefit their workers and their families.

The genuine interest and willingness to learn on the part of the committee members contributed greatly to the success of the sessions.

The Training Programme

The content of the training programme was designed according to requests made by committee members in the past and recent observations made by Foundation staff during their farm visits and administrative interaction with the farms. The committees also participated in the final decision regarding their training by completing self-evaluation forms before the training, where they indicated what their specific needs are. The training is also offered on the respective farms, ensuring that committee members are comfortable in a familiar environment and that farm management does not have the additional responsibility of transporting them to distant training venues.

Topics Covered:

  • Social Development Planning
  • Fundamentals of Project Management
  • Basic Budgeting
  • Committee Member Training
  • Conducting Meetings
  • Leadership and Management
  • Communication
  • Life Skills Topics

The Service Providers that have been contracted to deliver the programme are Skills for Africa and Skills for U. They are experienced in this field and have performed their task with the required professionalism and effectiveness. A total of 121 committee members completed the 1st three day session of the training to date.

Feedback from Participants

The feedback received from some project coordinators and committee members has been positive. Some reported that the training was being offered at the right time because they just established new committees who would benefit from the training. Others used the training to motivate and encourage their committees to commit to serving on the committee for the next 2-3 years. Examples of the feedback are as follows:

Bavaria – Nicola (Project Coordinator) reported that the committee was very pleased with the training. Topics such as Meeting Procedures, Motivation, Finances, Leadership and working on the completion of the Foundation’s Project Application Forms were particular highlights for them.

Bambanani – Alpheus (Committee Chairperson) reported that the training was fruitful and that the topics of Meeting Procedures, Budgeting, Record- keeping and Management were helpful. He believes that it will enable them to improve the management of their canteen. He also recommended that the Foundation repeat this type of training and assess how they implement the knowledge and skills acquired.

Cederberg – The newly appointed secretary of the committee, Elva, reported that the workshop values of Respect, Honesty and Difference were like a cornerstone to their experience. They also valued learning about a SWOT Analysis, Poverty Cycle, Goal-setting and Planning. The group work was also stimulating and she reported that members were not shy to give feedback when required. Learning more about Diversity was also very interesting and educational.

Vrisgewaagd – Committee members reported that the training was very helpful. They found the topics of Project Planning, Roles of Committee Members, Planning Meetings and SWOT Analysis very informative. They also reported that some of the training content was relevant for their personal development.

Clackmannen – Committee members reported that the topics of Project Planning, Communication, Community Consultation and Vision were very relevant and helpful for them. They appreciated the experience of the facilitator although he is still young and reported that they gained much from him, including new ideas for future projects as well as links to potential networks in Tulbagh.

Auldearn – Debi (Project Coordinator) reported that the topics of the course are extremely relevant and that she believes it was going to be of great benefit for the committee. One of the committee members reported that they were so inspired after their 1st session that they were organising a brainstorming session to share their thoughts and ideas about the way forward for them as a committee and with their projects.

AS Viljoen – Committee members reported that they found the sessions very educational and that it improved their understanding about their roles and responsibilities. They feel empowered and that they can attend to the needs of the workers better than what they could before.

The training programme has definitely added value to the participating committees based on the feedback that we are starting to receive from farm representatives. Renewed motivation, acquiring relevant knowledge/skills and developing new ideas have already enhanced the capacity of most committees. The individual and corporate development process that has been started provides a good platform for the successful completion of the training programme and for improving the implementation/delivery of projects.

~ Written by Raymond Engelbrecht, Field Manager, Waitrose Foundation ~