Broad-based livelihood development: a working process

Rural Development in ActionLivelihood refers to the means by which people are able to provide for themselves. A fisherman who catches fish to support his family by selling as well as eating them has fishing as his livelihood. For his livelihood to be viable not only does he need to be a good fisherman, he also needs the fish to continue to be available for his fishing.

For a moment, keep the above example in mind as a metaphor. We at Umsizi believe that together we can teach people not only to fish but also how to ensure that there will always be fish available. In this way, they support their families in a sustainable way.

Broad-based livelihood development has a bigger scope than localised monetary empowerment for a limited period of time. It takes steps toward an ongoing lifetime of economic empowerment for society as a whole.

What we have seen is that a poverty mindset can result in a “hand-out” mentality. In this mindset, the neediest in our society can envision nothing other than grants and other government initiatives to reduce their plight. Now, the government’s efforts to relieve the suffering of those most destitute is commendable and necessary. But we cannot see this as an end in and of itself. It is only a temporary solution.

This is why the initiatives need to be broad-based. It cannot be government alone getting involved, but a broad spectrum of public and private, corporate and individual parties alongside government. These come together to help uplift communities in need with programmes and initiatives. It must also be broad-based in the sense that it is not enough to develop any single sector or skill set. Instead, a wide range of white and blue-collar fields need to see capable people entering them.

This is where corporates have a key role in transformation. Umsizi has succeeded in assisting companies in meeting government-instituted targets for broad-based empowerment. We develop Enterprise Development Initiatives and Social and Labour Plans that get results.

The focus has to be on livelihood. Together we develop useful and marketable skills in those who are unable to attend training or receive a formal education. The skills provided empower individuals to earn a decent income. Their children get an education. Their bodies can have clothes, food and shelter. These skills can be in various fields, from the arts and sciences to agricultural, artisan, commercial and industrial fields. The entire process will contribute to a robust economy for our country and financial security for our people.

How do we move toward this brighter future? For this broad-based livelihood development to be effectual moving forward, we need to reinvest in the right initiatives. Initiatives that start the progress towards economic freedom. Not only must money be spent on the people, but also on the expansion of the industry and field they will be working in. As such investment is made, and the economy grows, more positions will need to be filled.

Broad-based livelihood development is a mindset that needs to be adopted as we put programmes in place. We aim to see poverty truly alleviated, and not just to offer some relief from an incurable illness in our society.