In an effort to build dialogue with the new administration of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Sovereign Foods recently hosted a metro delegation led by Deputy Executive Mayor Councillor Mongameli Bobani. This is the first formal interaction between the local poultry producer and new leadership, both parties are optimistic that closer cooperation will have a lasting impact for the region.
Sovereign Foods is one of the biggest employers in Nelson Mandela Bay. It provides direct employment for more than 3 000 people and the company injects about R600 million annually to the metro’s economy, Sovereign Foods’ Chief Executive Officer Chris Coombes told delegates at the session held at Barkly Hall in Uitenhage.
Coombes said: “As business, we don’t operate in a vacuum. It’s important that we engage the local authority to explore ways to improve the operating environment for optimal business and entrepreneurial growth.”
First established in 1948 and listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 1995, Sovereign Foods has grown into a fully-fledged integrated poultry business from farming to processing. Its main operations are in and around the Rocklands and Uitenhage region and the company continues to play an uplifting role in the community. This year alone, Sovereign Foods donated R300 000 through its corporate social responsibility programme towards several education and community support programmes in the region.
“Our intent is to improve on our current relationship with the metro’s administration and hope to solve ongoing disputes and identify effective ways in which our partnership can benefit the local community,” said Coombes.
In addition, Sovereign Foods has agreed to donate a portion of its farming land to the Rocklands Intermediate Farm School to expand, but the approval process has delayed for several years. The company hopes the metro can assist to fast track the process.
“It is encouraging to see businesses such as Sovereign Foods making a proactive move to engage us as the new administration. We have an open-door policy. We encourage businesses to voice their concerns and suggest ways in which we can improve the business environment. This is key in our efforts to achieve inclusive economic growth and job creation in the metro,” said Bobani during his address.
The Deputy Mayor also applauded the company for its commitment in sustaining a well-coordinated corporate social responsibility programme. “The metro’s main goal is to support the community, and any business that views corporate social responsibility as a priority is a great partner,” Bobani added.
The City Manager, Johann Mettler, as well as Budget and Treasury Chairman Councillor Retief Odendaal, were also in attendance. Mettler stressed the importance of private sector players attending planning meetings hosted by the municipality.
“These planning meetings provide an open platform. Being transparent about our dealings gives businesses a better understanding of the metro’s progress on key issues as well as financial plans which consider budget constraints and scarce sources of funding,” Mettler ended.