Starting up a whole new venture like a foundation is not an idle commitment, especially with the paperwork and bureaucracy involved. So what made us take the plunge in registering a new non-profit? There was one good reason for this, however the deeper we delve into this work the more multi-faceted we see our role becoming.
First and foremost, Samara was born out of what we saw as an opportunity in South Africa, as well as a need. With the international Nagoya Protocol being in place, sharing benefits with indigenous knowledge holders or harvesting communities is becoming an increasingly crucial part of the picture when dealing with genetic resources in South Africa. Especially as South Africa is far ahead of many other African countries in putting the Nagoya principles into legislation. Here it has become a requirement for those working with indigenous botanical raw materials to apply for a Bio-prospecting Permit, which includes having appropriate access and benefit sharing agreements in place with relevant stakeholders.
Benefit-sharing can be done in a variety of ways and can take the form of monetary or non-monetary benefits. For us the non-monetary is the interesting one as it offers a host of ways to co-operate with stakeholders that can bring longer-lasting benefits to individuals and communities in South Africa.
While there are plenty of social projects to be found in South Africa and many committed non-profit organisations doing wonderful work, being an implementing partner and understanding this new landscape of benefit sharing was a gap that has not yet been filled. Samara Foundation therefore aims to take on this very particular position in being the link for businesses committed to sharing benefits in a non-monetary way with communities. By being flexible, not bound geographically and by working closely with Parceval, we offer businesses social investment projects including monitoring and reporting procedures which fit the specific benefit-sharing requirements that they may have.
The deeper we have delved into our work in the Eastern Cape, however, the more we have also realised what other gaps remain in rural areas and the need for an organisation to play a facilitating role. The further one ventures from developed areas, the harder the work for change becomes and the fewer and further in between the opportunities for organisations on the ground are. So our existence takes on another dimension as we not only represent a link to businesses, but also to other services that previously have remained unattainable to some communities.
This dimension is still new to us, but we are working hard on defining this new role we see as important as taking on. As a facilitator we can help individuals or spaces such as the crèches to apply for programmes that though existing in their area have one or other hurdle that has stopped them from benefiting. This could be anything from onerous paperwork that they have difficulty in completing to transport issues or even not knowing about such programmes.
Samara Foundation has by no means worked out a perfect solution for addressing the many needs we are confronted with, but we continue to modify and work on our approach with time and experience. Your role as businesses is important in this. Businesses – and individuals – that also believe in sharing benefits and walk that distance with us is what makes this development possible. So we invite you to become part of this journey and to see an opportunity, not a burden, in sharing benefits down the value chain.
For more information on our projects visit our website www.samara.org.za or contact Louisa Feiter at firstname.lastname@example.org