Our programmes so far include those in the following key areas:

More detail on the projects in these areas is provided in the sections below and in our recent Project Summary Report. Download our Simanye Trust – Annual Summary 2016

We have also explored the potential for projects in solar energy provision, especially as a solution towards township energy challenges. However, this is only in the concept stage at the moment.

Emerging farmers

Agriculture is a key sector for South Africa but is one that has been facing significant decline over the past few years. This affects not only food security and the economy, but also impacts greatly on the availability of opportunities in rural areas.

Furthermore, there is much need to provide effective and practical training to emerging black farmers in order to help reverse some of the issues identified above and provide sustainable job creation.

Simanye has researched and piloted several projects in this space to date, including:

  • Helping emerging farmers plant new crops and create a co-op model to share in capital costs and thus minimize barriers to entry
  • Piloting of urban farming projects in Johannesburg CBD, including in aquaponics and other novel growth methods
  • Research into and development of a business plan for a practical agricultural skills academy
  • Work on community based and microfranchised farming models to spread benefits at minimal investment amounts


Access to finance to support self-employment opportunities has a crucial role in engaging the poor in the economy and reducing poverty. The estimated ‘market’ of micro-entrepreneurs shut out of the formal financial system in South Africa is two to three million people, according to the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Microfinance. These people are, or could be, the breadwinners supporting millions of others.

This socio-economic challenge is addressed through a group lending model developed and implemented in Bangladesh, for which Professor Mohammad Yunus won a Nobel Prize, by empowering poor women to succeed at micro-enterprise. By focusing on the unbanked rural population, a microfinance institution’s short-term loans, training, and on-going support help micro-entrepreneurs start and/or operate small businesses in their own communities.  When the loans are paid back they are re-cycled to assist other entrepreneurs. Every rand and dollar is therefore leveraged to help as many people as possible.

Simanye has worked with a leading microfinance organisation in South Africa, the Phakamani Foundation, since 2009, in order to provide consulting advice, fundraising support as well as operational support as needed. Phakamani Foundation empowers poor women to succeed at micro-enterprise through an integrated programme of micro-enterprise training, group loans, and on-going support that leads to increased income, savings, and hope for women in deep rural areas with few previous opportunities.


Microfranchising is a relatively new development concept that adapts the proven operational principles of traditional franchising to the needs of very small businesses.  Microfranchising offers aspiring entrepreneurs and business managers a standardised business model with access to supply chain, marketing, financing, skills transfer, and on-going management supervision.  If applied correctly, microfranchising has the potential to increase the likelihood of successful, sustainable local businesses that create jobs, promote local supply chain development and service the needs of local communities.

As a result of both engagement with implementing partners such as the Micro-franchise Accelerator (MFA) and preliminary academic research Simanye now has strong evidence to suggest that the micro-franchising concept has a significant potential for both success and large scale impact in the South African context.

In the past year we have helped convene a working group on the concept, have piloted an assessment and recruitment tool, and have a publication on the model for South Africa.  To download our Microfranchising in South Africa document, jointly written with The Microfranchise Accelerator, click on the button below:

Microfranchising Research Paper

Holistic community development

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a process that focuses on assets (rather than needs) unlike most traditional development processes, in order to help foster a positive mindset and help communities drive their own development process based on what they already have. This leads to very high levels of sustainability.  We have to date helped implement ABCD in several key communities with the help of our implementation partner, Mmpaula.

In early 2014 we came across a community in the Eastern Cape which has a high level of poverty and minimal local businesses, but also a high level of social cohesion and desire to change and develop at all levels of society. We identified that it was a key opportunity for us to pilot our approach to holistic community development. To date we have implemented the ABCD programme and appointed a skilled and suitable project manager from the local town to work on the ground with us to implement economic development programmes and support the establishment and growth of small businesses. So far we have found significant potential as well as local leadership that could drive a process of holistic community development.

In conjunction with our manager on the ground, we are currently looking at how to add in elements of microfranchising, enterprise development, and microfinance into the process for maximal impact.