Christmas represents love, caring, sharing, and being together. People are yearning to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and are replacing the tide of consumerism with the spirit of peace and goodwill.

‘Tis indeed the season of giving.

According to the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) consultancy, Trialogue, South African companies spent an estimated R10.3 billion on CSI in 2021. However, this represents a 7% decrease in real terms from the R10.7 billion spent on CSI in 2020. More companies reported making non-cash donations of products as well as contributions of services and time during the fiscal year. This applied to almost one-third of the 69 companies included in the analysis report.

Education remains one of the most popular causes, accounting for an average of 39% of CSI spend. This is however, significantly less than the previous year, due to increased support for food security, agriculture, and disaster relief.

Many South Africans rely on this generosity, with approximately 18.2 million people living in extreme poverty and a further 123 000 pushed into poverty during 2022, while almost 20% of households are affected by food insecurity. It is speculated that these numbers will continue to rise in the years to come.

Donations and food handouts are vital, providing immediate, short-term relief, however there is no evidence to show it addresses food poverty in the long run. To really have a positive and sustainable impact on communities, the main objective of charitable initiatives should be to implement meaningful, long-term programmes.

Mustard Seed Relationship Marketing has partnered with several local urban farming projects designed to help those trapped in desperate poverty generate a self-sustaining income that allows them to break the poverty cycle and help provide for their families. The vision of these projects is to provide long-term solutions which will allow individuals and families to live independent and self-sustainable lives.

Rooftop farming is a relatively new concept in South Africa and utilising this approach to create a sustainable long-term solution to tackle food security and youth unemployment in South Africa is an exciting undertaking.

These programmes aim to shape a sustainable generation of agri-preneurs and home growers through skills development courses for agriculturally-minded candidates, equipping communities and youth with life skills, business skills and modern growing techniques.

Growers learn to produce crops hydroponically, in vertical towers, using coconut coir as a growing medium. Producing food in this way uses less water and less space than traditional methods of growing in soil and maximises scarce resources in urban and rural settings.

After training, growers are equipped to become self-sufficient food producers or agribusiness owners. They shift from consumers to producers, growing nutrient-rich produce directly at home, allowing their income to be used to make a difference where it matters, such as education.

One such ground-breaking project, and the first urban rooftop farm established in the Western Cape, was unveiled earlier this month by Mustard Seed client, Redefine Properties, right on top of Kenilworth Centre, a popular regional shopping mall in the heart of Cape Town’s southern suburbs.

“We aim to create a meaningful and sustainable long-term solution to tackle youth unemployment and in turn food security in our immediate community and catchment area. We believe this project will set an example for landlords on how they can change the way retail properties are managed and developed so that lives, communities, and the environment are impacted positively,” says Anelisa Keke, chief sustainability officer at Redefine.

To explore how Mustard Seed Relationship Marketing is collaborating with retailers and urban farming organisations in order to empower local communities through food security, please contact Amori van Zyl, New Business Development Manager, on 021 880 1366 or or visit our website

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