The Grabouw and Elgin region, known as the Valley by the Grabouw Development Agency, is an economic hub in South Africa.
In fact, the Valley’s economy exceeded R15 billion in 2020 with an output growth of nearly four times that of the national average. It’s driven by a few major industries here, including agricultural and agri-processing, which together make up more than 85% of the local economy. Apples, pears and wine grapes are predominantly grown here, of which most are destined for export.
These agricultural industries have created a high demand for seasonal workers. As a result, there is high unemployment for large portions of the year. At the same time, there has been an influx of people to the Valley, driven by economic conditions elsewhere in the country and in southern Africa. This is contributing to increased unemployment.
That’s why a co-ordinated response is needed to ensure the sustainable development for all in the region.
In the Kogelberg Biosphere, our partner, the Grabouw Development Agency, or GDA, is playing a key role to help address this.
Grabouw Development Agency
The GDA was established in 2020, driven by the private sector. It’s CEO is Cornelis van der Waal, seconded from Wesgro, and it’s chaired by former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas. It’s also supported by the Brenthurst Foundation, and is represented by both the public and private sectors. It took two years to research, design and bring the GDA to life.
Today its main functions are:
- To create and communicate a shared vision for Grabouw through stakeholder engagement and digital communication.
- To attract investors to various identified and packaged projects around the Valley.
- To oversee the establishment of community-based social projects, such as the Grabouw Open Community Hub.
Because of the mix of people involved, the GDA provides access to the right people, including municipal decision makers and other enablers.
It’s believed these commercially sustainable projects will bring about large-scale economic diversification and job creation in the Valley.
Right now, the GDA is focusing on three projects:
1. Providing work and office space to small businesses in the informal sector, to help formalise these businesses and grow them into employment vehicles. Training will also be provided to these entrepreneurs.
2. Building a mall in the heart of the informal settlement, to reduce travel costs for the community of Grabouw. The remaining land will be developed into a sports complex, to nurture young sporting talent.
3. Developing an alternative land use plan for the neglected forestry land in the Valley.
Given the challenges around housing, the GDA has also prioritised a housing survey to understand the demand and ability to develop new housing in the Theewaterskloof Municipality. Recycling must also be improved, both in towns in the Valley and in the farming community. The GDPA is now putting in place processes to separate waste at the waste disposal site and collect waste from the township where recycling is currently not being implemented.
The GDA is also focusing on the tourism sector as an industry that can quickly create many job opportunities. That’s why there is a renewed focus on promoting Grabouw and Elgin as a tourism hotspot. This includes the tourism awareness container at Peregrine Farm Stall and developing new cycling routes. So watch this space!
Why is the GDA such an important partner for us?
The Grabouw Development Agency is focused on sustainable development, in particular in bringing to life the UNESCO 17 Sustainable Development Goals. That’s exactly the Kogelberg Biosphere’s focus. The GDA also realises that the environment is key in all this, and that by supporting environmentally sustainable projects, the GDA can unlock international donor and development funding, thereby promoting those projects with a strong empowerment and conservation goal.
The GDA also brings a new approach to finance: to make the move from limited charitable and donor giving, to social financing and community buy-in.
Other projects we’re involved in:
Grabouw Transformation Project
The Kogelberg Biosphere is working in partnership with an organisation called Grabouw Transformation. The purpose of this initiative is to support Non-Profit Organisations in Grabouw to ensure they have a bigger impact on the Grabouw community. The focus is on assisting the NPC’s with their business plans and their applications to funders.
Hangklip and Kleinmond Tourism Working Group
The Kogelberg Biosphere in partnership with the Overstrand Municipality have established a Tourism Working Group for the Hangklip Kleinmond Area. The focus is to identify tourism opportunities for the local community and work as a collective to grow these opportunities. We are busy developing a tourism strategy to be implemented for the area.
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The Betty’s Bay Hack Group, the oldest in South Africa, recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. It all started in February 1963 when Denys Heesom challenged Betty’s Bay residents to join him in tackling the alien vegetation encroaching on the Betty’s Bay fynbos.
On Sunday 4 April, the Kogelberg Biosphere Wildlife Rescue (KBWR) team, with the assistance of the Overstrand Municipality, members of the public and Betty’s Bay
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