Interim report for 2019/2020
DIRECTORS’ INTERIM REPORT FOR THE PERIOD
NOVEMBER 2018 – JULY 2019
TO BE CONSIDERED AT AN ANNUAL GENERAL
MEETING ON 25 JULY 2019
While SAEOPA was established in 2000, it never had the wherewithal to realise its full potential as it was run on a voluntary basis by a few individuals. This picture changed for the good towards the end of last year.
Starting in November 2018, discussions took place between SAEOPA representatives and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on ways and means to improve the Association’s institutional capacity. The Global Quality and Standards Programme for strengthening the quality of essential and vegetable oils exports from South Africa (GQSP-SA), funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), very kindly agreed to provide SAEOPA with various means of support in pursuit of this objective.
It is fitting indeed that the board may present its Interim Report to the membership at the auspicious occasion of the Association’s 1st South African Conference on Essential and Vegetable Oils, which was made possible by the generous support of the GQSP-SA project and the dti. We highly indebted to these two partners for making this possible.
It is trite that, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”. The board consequently spent a considerable amount of time in developing a 5-year strategy, spanning 2019-2023, which was eventually adopted on 23 May 2019. An excerpt from the strategy, containing the Association’s strategic goals and sub-goals, were circulated to members on 11 July 2019 for comment. It needs be emphasised that the board is committed to be guided by its membership, and members’ input on matters like these will always be welcomed.
Pursuant to the strategic plan, the board is now considering its short-term plan and budget for the current year, the primary focus areas including marketing the Association, developing beneficial services to members and, most importantly, the Association’s sustainability in years to come. In this regard, it warrants mentioning that the board has approved that a 10% commission may be payable to persons who secure funding for the Association, subject to certain requirements, details of which can be obtained from the Secretary. Members are encouraged to assist the board’s efforts in this regard, be it by means of suggestions or funding raised.
The following lower-level, but nonetheless important strategies, will also be developed and considered by the board shortly:
- Financial strategy
- Lobbying strategy
- Management strategy
- Marketing strategy
- Membership recruitment strategy
- Skills development strategy.
- Board of directors
The Association was deregistered by the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), and four directors acted as incorporators to have the Association re-registered. These were Ms Nnana Makhubu, Mr Obed Nelovholwe, Ms Karen Swanepoel and Mr Wim Du Toit. Four additional persons were co-opted to the board due to their specialised knowledge.
The board currently consist of the following directors, each having accepted the portfolios reflected next to their names:
- Wim Du Toit: Administration, secretarial and committee matters.
- Nnana Makhubu: Agricultural advisor.
- Obed Nelovholwe: Technical and processing advisor.
- Phyllis Makgethwa: Social and traditional affairs.
- Magda Sly: Value-adding and marketing.
- Karen Swanepoel: Executive Director and media.
- Hendrik Van Gass: Finances and business model advisor.
- Louis Verhoef: Quality control.
The board met on 1 February, 8 March, 23 May and 12 July 2019, minutes of which are duly kept and recorded in a minute book.
- Membership and marketing
A redesigned, comprehensive membership application form was developed and sent to some 70 deemed and potential members on 9 July 2019. While possibly being onerous to complete the nine-page document, the intent is to gather representative and accurate date on the industry, which is not available at present.
Following this first membership recruitment drive, a total of 31 completed membership application forms had been received and captured in the Members’ Register by 21 July 2019. I am particularly pleased that companies from Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe have joined our ranks. We shall certainly endeavour to recruit members from the other SADC countries as well.
The 1st South African Conference on Essential and Vegetable Oils, to be held on 25 – 26 July 2019, provided a major impetus towards the Association’ membership recruitment drive. It needs be mentioned with sincere appreciation that this conference was made possible by the unstinting support of the GQSP-SA project, which is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and by the dti.
The GQSP-SA project is also making a major contribution towards SAEOPA’s capacity building, one element of which is the development of promotional and branding material. These items include:
- A pull-up banner
- A brochure
- A template for an electronic newsletter
- A template for PowerPoint presentations
- A redesigned, improved logo
- A company letterhead
- Membership certificates
- Business cards for the Executive Director and Secretary.
An official Members’ Register has now been developed, which is scrupulously maintained.
Members’ data will be updated annually, not only to keep it current, but also to update the high-level statistics on the industry’s growers, processors and exporters.
The framework and layout of the company’s new website has been completed, and we look forward to it going live in the not too distant future.
Liaison and lobbying with primary stakeholders, notably government departments, has to be done to protect and promote the interests of our members. Various initiatives abound that can either promote or hamstring the industry – the former have to exploited to the benefit the industry and our members, while the latter have to be taken up with the authorities in question to ensure that the industry claims its potential place in an regional and global context. Measures such as quality and standards immediately spring to mind, but I am confident that our members will advise us of other pressing issues that require attention.
Members will appreciate that the Association does not have the human resources to pursue this as it would like to, but the board will prioritise those issues that are both important and urgent in the interests of the industry. I believe that members will provide the board with guidance at the forthcoming AGM.
- Events to be hosted by SAEOPA
A schedule of activities to be hosted by the Association, to the benefit of the industry in general and members and potential growers in particular, is in the process of being drafted. It is anticipated that these activities and events will become a source of much-needed revenue to cover the Association’s operational costs.
- Corporate governance
The board place a high premium on sound governance, some examples of which are cited below.
The Association’s former constitution was converted into a Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) as required by legislation, and it was circulated to members and potential members on 13 July 2019, inviting their comments. Continuous compliance with the MOI’s provisions is ensured by the Secretary’s oversight.
The Association was registered with SARS following its re-registration, and our tax number was issued on 27 February 2019, followed by a tax clearance certificate the following day.
A bank account was opened, with two of four designated signatories having to approve all payments.
The board recommend the appointment of an Audit Committee, and a proposal on its composition will be submitted at the AGM. The board recommend that it should be comprised of two independent director and one SAEOPA member.
The board approved a Board Charter & Code of Conduct for Directors on 23 May 2019, which were circulated to members on 13 July 2019 for their cognisance.
A gap analysis vis-à-vis the King IV Report on Corporate Governance’s™ requirements was considered by the board on 12 July 2019. This will now be followed by a second, more in-depth analysis, and shortcomings, if any, will be addressed.
Directors all being involved in the industry to a larger or lesser extent, they disclose their related interests at every board meeting in the interests of transparency and to identify and address any conflict of interest, should there be any such.
Compliance with the King Report IV is considered paramount and non-negotiable for various reasons, one being that the Association may become a beneficiary of funding from international organisations or the public and private sectors, which possible funding would be facilitated by the Association’s demonstrable compliance with King IV.
The board will also shortly consider a formal commission policy, financial procedures and a directors’ peer review form.
- Human resources
Job descriptions for the Executive Director and Secretary have been developed and approved by the board on 23 May 2019. Quarterly milestone evaluation forms will now be developed to allow for measuring the incumbents’ performance against set criteria.
It is my pleasure and privilege to sincerely thank our major supporters during the past seven months.
First and foremost, we would like to record our most sincere appreciation to the GQSP-SA project, which made most of the progress reflected above, possible. Their support elevated SAEOPA to a hitherto unattained level, and it is up to us to maintain the momentum thus created.
Our thanks also go to the GQSP-SA and the dti for generously sponsoring our first regional conference. Your support not only ensured the success of this inaugural conference, but also contributed to it being oversubscribed.
I would also like to thank my fellow directors and SAEOPA’s officials, whose unstinting support and hard work lay a foundation upon which our successors can build.
Last, but most certainly not least, our thanks to our members for your support and participation – without you, the Association will cease to exist.