Blog from our CEO, Neil de Smidt
Dear Buhle partner
As we gallop towards the end of 2016, I am delighted to have this opportunity to thank every one of our partners you what you have done for us this year. It has been a rollercoaster year, one of the most extraordinary in Buhle’s history, and you have helped to make it happen.
Our growth at Buhle since January has been phenomenal. We started to see our grandest dream – of expanding to serve new farmers across South Africa – come true was we opened a satellite campus in Piet Retief in the early new year. What joy there was, as we celebrated the graduation of the first students at this campus in November (some of the pics are below)!
We also opened much-needed administrative offices in Pretoria this year, and we expanded our commercial farming operations, to increase the funding that we gain from our own crops and livestock.
Of course, we needed more staff to make all of this expansion happen, and the Buhle team grew by a whopping 37% this year! A heartfelt welcome to each one of our new staff members. Thank you for working hard to catch up so fast. We have always had a very low staff turnover, and we hope that all of you, too, will be with us for the very long haul.
Another important note on staff: It’s the end of an era as our loyal cleaner, Mam Dorah, retires. Mam Dorah has been with us since we opened our doors 16 years ago. She has been a rock at Buhle. Mam Dorah, you will be missed, but you deserve a time of rest. We wish you a peaceful and happy one.
To all our graduates, we extend our heartfelt congratulations. You are the reason we get out of bed in the mornings. Your passion for farming, and your dedication to your studies, have been a great inspiration to the Buhle staff this year. Now that you’re setting out to become a farmer in your own right, you are bound to encounter many unforeseen challenges. Please remember to pick up the phone, or email, our Farmer Support Office, for help and advice. We are there to help you overcome all the challenges you face, so that you can build a farming business you can be proud of.
Our board members are guiding lights for us, steering our course and making sure that we fulfil, and even grow, our mission. They do this motivated entirely from a sense of philanthropy. Thank you to every one of you for your important role.
The people who truly enable our work to happen, of course, are our funders. It is due to your support, that we were able to transform the lives of hundreds of emerging farmers on the ground this year. One of our alumni expressed it well, when he was asked last month where he would be without Buhle. He looked to the ground as we walked across his farm and eventually answered, “Without Buhle, I would be a drunk.” Today Malungisi’s farm provides for three families as he farms maize, sheep and pigs.
Because of your input, people have moved from having no food, to being able to feed their families; from having small profits, to having bigger ones, and from having subsistence operations to having commercial or semi-commercial farming ventures. We hope that over this festive season, you will share our joy in knowing that, together, we have helped bring dignity and hope back to so many people’s lives.
I also hope you will join me in celebrating the wonderful message of Christmas – God coming to live among us for the purpose of reconciling man to God.
May you rest well after a hectic year, with the knowledge that your support has achieved much.
Until 2017, I send you warm regards.
Neil de Smidt