John Earwicker recent visit to South Africa with two MAI Volunteers was very successful. “We had a full programme meeting with a variety of people,” said John. “Business people, church leaders from all ethnic backgrounds were generous with their time and advice. We have come back with more business opportunities than we had thought of, some of which look very promising.”

“A number of people have promised to do further research so that in the next few months we can create and evaluate several alternative business plans, at least one of which we can pitch to social enterprise investors. We came across aquaponics which is a new but rapidly growing development in agriculture. This could produce some premium vegetables and fruit and sits well with the mindset of many unemployed people in the Embo church who told us that they would love to grow things.”

Other options that are under consideration include pre-school facilities and student accommodation. It is hoped that plans can be finalised during March this year. What is exciting is to discover that there are a number of schemes that any business start up can access if it will train and employ “formerly disadvantaged persons.” The Valley of Embo definitely qualifies!