The Waitrose Foundation Annual Conference
3,4 August 2017, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, SA
The conference once again proved its value as part of the Capacity Building Programme for farm workers. Combining it to the Foundation’s AGM increased the experiential learning as delegates were exposed to the broader, strategic and decision-making aspects of the organisation. This proved to be very empowering for many workers who expressed their appreciation for the fact that they were given access to such an important process of the Foundation. Many also reported that their understanding about the partnerships between the farm, the supermarket in the UK and the Waitrose Foundation as well as the scope of its work improved.
The theme of the conference namely ‘Strategic Alignment with Change’ was relevant because it facilitated the focus of delegates on what was addressed during the AGM. It was also informative and challenging on personal, managerial (worker committees) and organisational levels. Delegates were exposed to meaningful presentations from the Foundation’s General Manager, farm project coordinators and/or committee chairpersons as well as Directors from the Department of Agriculture. These elements combined with the programme design, the atmosphere at the venue and the positive/constructive interaction between Foundation staff and farm representatives contributed to the overall success of the conference. 35 Project Coordinators and 38 Committee Chairpersons represented their respective farms.
Evaluations at the end of the event revealed the high regard and appreciation farm workers have for the work of the Foundation, the value they place on the peer learning experience of the conference as well as requests to continue, improve and extend the duration of the conference.