GA-RANKUWA ECO- FURNITURE FACTORY

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1 GA-RANKUWA ECO- FURNITURE FACTORY An initiative of the Department of Environmental Affairs Eco-Furniture Programme in partnership with the City of Tshwane Contributing to a Nation at Work

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3 Introduction 1 Background 2 Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Factory 3 Organogram 8 Clients 9 Success Stories 9 Conclusion 10

4 Invasive alien species cause billions of Rands of damage to South Africa s economy every year. These plants pose a direct threat not only to South Africa s biological diversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land. They intensify the impact of fires and floods and increase soil erosion. Of the estimated plants introduced to this country, 379 are listed in the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2014 (NEM:BA) Alien and Invasive Species (AIS) Regulations as invasive. These cover about 10% of the country, with the problem growing exponentially. These plants can divert enormous amounts of water from more productive uses. The Department of Environmental Affairs through the Working for Water (WfW) programme, and funding from the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), has initiated a sub-programme of Working for Water that uses invasive alien plants to make school desks for the Department of Basic Education. South Africa s Working for Water programme was established in The programme is the largest public-funded project to eradicate invasive alien plants and improve water resources in the world and has created over full-time jobs over the past two decades. The Eco- Furniture Programme was first piloted in December 2005 in Cedara, in KwaZulu-Natal, in partnership with the KZN Invasive Alien Species Programme, with seed funding from the World Bank, and has grown into a national programme with a presence in the Southern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The Eco-Furniture Programme is a job creation initiative which offers opportunities to unemployed South Africans who create furniture, walking sticks, chess board tables and school desks out of alien invasive plants. The programme, which is implemented through the South African National Parks Agency (SANParks), seeks to make optimal use of the biomass cleared through the WfW programme, and create work opportunities to make products that help government to meet its needs and notably the propoor opportunities within this. The government s invasive alien plant clearing programme has achieved great success over the years. 1

5 Unemployment and poverty are the two major challenges faced by South Africa and the City of Tshwane in particular. About 27.7 per cent of the City of Tshwane population lives in Region 1 and it makes up the highest concentration of residents with the highest poverty and unemployment rates. Region 1 is situated in the north western quadrant of the City and includes Mabopane, Winterveld, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa and Pretoria North. A significant number of the population have low levels of education, high unemployment, very low incomes and poor living standards. Youth unemployment as well as unemployment among women remains high. In the latter part of 2013, the Department of Environment Affairs through its Working for Water Programme approached the City of Tshwane for a possible partnership to establish 6 642m² factory at the Ga- Rankuwa Industrial Park. The factory was officially launched in partnership with North West Development Corporation on 07 March In the City of Tshwane s quest to address the scourge of youth unemployment, they partnered with the Department of Environmental Affairs the Eco-Furniture programme to develop communities and alleviate unemployment among women and youth and to link unemployed citizens to training opportunities. The Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Programme is one of the many ways in which the spread of invasive species can be reduced and jobs can be created in marginalised communities amongst poor people. Over and above skills development, the City s overall objective is to contribute to government s New Growth Path and the job creation agenda. The factory has assisted the City s efforts to fight poverty in the creation of sustainable job opportunities and skills development for the poor. 2

6 The Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Programme also forms part of the City of Tshwane s flagship programmes. The Eco-Furniture Programme has developed an industry around the clearing of invasive biomass, converting the trees into usable material and manufacturing an assortment of furniture products. The programme aims to capitalise on the latent value of the invasive alien plants by manufacturing products in line with government needs while maximising job creation and skills transfer opportunities. The Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Programme is aimed at achieving the following objectives: contribute to job creation by creating sustainable jobs; contribute to the utilization of local labour; contribute to skills transfer and capacity building for disadvantage groups in the Ga-Rankuwa area, through accredited training clearing of invasive alien biomass, with a focus on gum and pine trees; a production output of a minimum of double combination school desks per month; and fight poverty through job creation and stimulation of economic growth. Providing work for the local rural unemployed is an important aim of the project, and in this respect, it obviously serves its purpose admirably. The project provides job opportunities which bring the unemployed into a working environment, to obtain skills and work experience. The following key components of the successful 3

7 establishment of the factory have been identified: 3.1 Job creation The Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Programme has created more than 227 temporary but continuous jobs for previously unemployed people and beneficiaries from City s Tshepo programme, as indicated in figure 1 and 2. It is expected that over 900 jobs will be created once the project is fully operational, with 350 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) jobs within the factory operations, and a further 550 downstream jobs in the harvesting and in-field planking, delivery and assembly anticipated. Figure 1: Employment by gender Jobs will be created once the project is fully operational, with 350 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) jobs within the factory operations, and a further 550 downstream jobs in the harvesting and in-field planking, delivery and assembly anticipated. The Ga- Rankuwa eco-furniture programme has created more than 226 full-time jobs for previously unemployed people and beneficiaries of the City s Tshepo programme, as indicated in Figure 1 and 2. Over 900 EPWP jobs are expected to be created once the project is fully operational. Figure 2: Number of contractors and participants Category Name, 12 Participants, 215 4

8 3.2 Skills development In addition to employment opportunities, the project provides extensive training in fields that have a good absorption rate into public and private sectors. However, experience has shown that employees remain with the factories as there are career progression opportunities. The factory is also embarking on the establishment of a training facility. The programme provides accredited and non-accredited training in different categories that includes the following courses: A Health and Safety Training First Aid Level 1-3 SHE Rep Awareness training: Fire, Snakes and Bees Awareness Workplace Risk Assessment B. Task Related Training Basic and Advanced Chainsaw Operator Wet Mill Machines Operator Wood Technology Furniture Making Driven Machines 5

9 C. Contractors Training Contractor Development Phase 1 3 People Management Conflict Management Financial Management D. Social Development Training Personal Finances Peer Educator Course Diversity Management Healthy Living 3.3 Production The Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Factory consists of a wet mill, dry mill, value added workshop and a storage facility. Production ranges from the initial clearing and timber harvesting, through to the wet mill where the logs are planked before being placed in kilns to dry, and then to the dry mill where the planks are processed. The trees are harvested on municipal and private land and the factory uses processed planks. The current production focus to date has been an order for primary and secondary school desks for the Department of Basic Education. The Department has placed a 6

10 further order for desks with DEA s Eco-Furniture Programme, of which a significant proportion will be produced at the Ga-Rankuwa Eco- Furniture Programme factory. The factory utilises the processed planks to make the four wooden components the seat, back, front and the top. These components are processed, spray-painted and wrapped, ready for sending out. The steel frames are sent separately by the suppliers, and the desks are assembled at the schools. The factory currently produces 200 school desks per day as well as some additional value added products (coffins, garden benches, chess tables, walking sticks) and operates 5 days a week with 2 shifts per day. The intention is to increase the desk production, and the factory is currently gearing up to produce a target of 400 school desks per day. 3.4 Product Output The primary output at present is school desks in support of the drive by the Department of Basic Education to provide all Learners with quality facilities. Other types of furniture the programme makes range from sturdy benches to office furniture, tables and chairs, chess pieces and chess tables, walking sticks, key holders and photo frames 7

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12 Department of Basic Education Government Departments Since its launch in 2014, the factory has cleared and harvested more than m³ of invasive alien timber, while providing jobs and training to 227 beneficiaries from Ga-Rankuwa and surrounding areas. Following an intensive period of training and upskilling, over desks have been produced by the Ga-Rankuwa factory site desks have been ordered from the Eco-Furniture Programme as a whole, by the Department of Basic Education. Three contractors were able to purchase their own vehicles. Promising individuals are also trained and encouraged to become emerging contractors and then fully-fledged independent contractors who employ other workers in their teams. 9

13 The Eco-Furniture Programme has made a major positive impact on the lives of impoverished and essentially marginalised people in the country. This initiative has shown the viability of the approach of utilising invasive alien create to create jobs, in making value-added products relevant to government s needs while contributing to skills development and income generation.

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16 Ga-Rankuwa Eco-Furniture Factory Stand 19 and 20, Third Street, Zone 15 Ga-Rankuwa Industrial Park Tel: Website:

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