Abashintshi Project | Sappi

The Abashintshi project is inspired by Sappi. We use social mobilisation and Asset Based Community Development to uplift and empower our local communities.

Where it all began:

  • In 2015, Sappi Southern Africa's Forestry division in KwaZulu-Natal, set out to establish what it could do to simultaneously improve relationships with communities and provide them with better opportunities 
  • Research indicated high unemployment within communities that Sappi operates in, along with expectations that the company could provide more jobs than was possible. This highlighted a critical need for social intervention and enterprise development
  • This was the birth of a 12-month pilot community engagement and social mobilisation project, which involved the appointment of 18 unemployed youth called the Abashintshi.  

Abashintshi Social Mobilisation Project:

  • Abashintshi is a Zulu word meaning the 'changers'
  • Established in 2015 in conjuction with a development agency, Devcom
  • Based on the Asset-based community development (ABCD) methodology and with the objective of establishing and helping activate entrepreneurial enterprises among their communities, the Abashintshi are taught how to facilitate life skills and entrepreneurship training. They also conduct the Ifa Lethu Legacy programme with the elders in their communities to get a greater appreciation for their heritage and culture and offer holiday programmes for school children
  • The Abashintshi provide Sappi with a new channel of communicating with their communities, which has helped to resolve issues, to foster better community relationships and to improve Sappi's reputation.

Award winning:

  • The Abashintshi Social Mobilisation Project won a gold award in the 'Shared Value' category of the 2017 Loerie Awards
  • The project also won a merit award in the 2017 International Association of Business Communications (IABC) Awards as well as two International IABC Golden Quills, one African Gold Quill and one Gold PRISM award. 

Click here to watch the Abashintshi 2017 graduation video!


Making an impact:

  • The programme has resulted in approximately 419 small businesses that have either been started up or rejuvenated with the assistance of Abashintshi. These range from brickmaking projects, poultry and pig farms to creches and home industries, among a host of others
  • Fires on Sappi land within those communities has declined by 89% in just two years
  • Perceptions of Sappi has shifted significantly to be more positive
  • Research reveals that communities have developed a better self-help attitude 
  • Since its inception the programme has been extended to more than 50 communities in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga and today involves more than 115 Abashintshi.

Successful small business development 

Mthobisi Shezi in his tuck shop, which was inspired by the Abashintshi programme. This is just one of the many small or micro businesses created as a result of Abashintshi and the ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) programme.

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