Mondi is an international packaging and paper group, employing 26,000 people in production facilities across 31 countries. With its operations located in central Europe, Russia, the Americas and South Africa in mind, Mondihas declared itself committed to creating value and improving the livelihoods of its communities. This can be witnessed in numerous social engagement projects in healthcare, poverty alleviation and education.
Perhaps the most successful of Mondi’s initiatives is Mondi Zimele, part of Mondi South Africa, which addresses the limited economic opportunities of rural communities through job creation and small business development.
Recent official South African statistics have estimated national unemployment levels at over 25%, with rural areas especially vulnerable due to recent substantial job losses in the agricultural sector. Marginalization due to poor education and skills training, lack of infrastructure as well as remoteness are among the barriers to employment in rural regions. With its first operations launched in South Africa, Mondi’sroots have long been both witness and part of the changes in the region’s environmental and economic landscapes. The company therefore recognized the potential that small business development offers in helping to combat rural unemployment.
Mondi Zimele was created in 2007 to provide small business loans, start-up capital as well as business development expertise to support new market entrants in establishing viable businesses.
Financially, Mondi Zimele is supported by a “revolving” fund from Mondiwhich is deployed on commercial terms as equity and loans to qualifying investee companies. By supporting and promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the program is recognized as being a successful vehicle for job creation in South Africa. To date, the MondiZimele Program has supported over 80 SMEs with an employment footprint reaching over 4,200 people and a collective annual turnover in excess of US$ 61 million.
This WBCSD case study examines Mondi Zimele’s approach and achievements.