Wal-Mart Grows With Africa

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 2011, Wal-Mart acquired majority stake in Massmart Holdings Ltd. Massmart Holdings is the owner of over 350 stores in South Africa and 11 other sub-Saharan countries. This makes Wal-Mart one of the largest companies to join the running in Africa alongside Dominos, KFC and Cold Stone Creamery.

However, merely owning these stores in Africa to bring in more income for their brand isn’t the only reason Wal-Mart became the majority owner of Massmart. Wal-Mart  has also put into place many initiatives for social and environmental responsibility for their customers as well as the surrounding communities. Wal-Mart, in conjunction with Massmart Holdings in Africa, has begun community outreach programs.

Massmart has begun school nutrition initiatives that involve the installation of mobile container kitchens. When the program began in 2011, an estimated 19.5 million meals were provided to schoolchildren. In 2012, just one year later, they installed 50 additional container kitchens, and an estimated 38 million meals will be prepared each year. In addition, Massmart began a Vegetables Under Construction program that promotes sustainable food production through the installation of vegetable tunnels at schools.  These vegetable tunnels provide fresh vegetables to those who want to learn to sustain their own food. The Vegetables Under Construction project encourages communities to become self-sufficient in food production by making it easy to grow vegetables. The project helps provide regular access to nutritious food and can also provide opportunities for people to gain income by selling the excess crops to people in the local communities.

To top off their responsibility of aiding in terminating world hunger, Massmart also provides regular food donations to Foodbank South Africa.

Massmart does not only aid in putting an end to world hunger or teaching the communities around them to grow crops, however. They also put in place precautions to prevent the spread of malaria. Malaria is a preventable and treatable illness, but it still kills more than one million people in Africa each year.  Massmart has responded to this issue by partnering with the philanthropist Kingsley Holgate and distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets to local communities near a Massmart company.

Over the past four years, the Group has provided more than 13,000 mosquito nets to people in need. It is estimated that 3,000 nets could be able to save up to 10,000 lives. A family of four can sleep under one net, and the insecticide woven into each net can help to make entire communities safer by repelling mosquitoes.

Massmart is also helping make its communities healthier and safer through harvesting water and diverting e-waste, which could be potentially harmful to the environment, from ending up in landfills.

South Africa is among the top 30 driest countries in the world. This means water scarcity is a huge environmental issue. Massmart is a moderate user of water, but they are intent on minimizing unnecessary operational consumption. This is why Massmart put the rainwater harvesting program in place at their Builders Warehouse stores as well as began condensation harvesting from refrigeration and air-conditioning units at Makro stores. These projects limit the amount of water Massmart uses in order to provide the communities around them with their best chance of receiving fresh drinking water.

Massmart also has its e-waste initiative which prevents old computers, containing potentially hazardous pollutants, from rotting in landfills. Massmart partnered with Fujitsu Siemens to begin the collection of more than 334 tons of post-consumer e-waste, almost all of which was diverted from landfills.

Through their new initiatives and projects in the surrounding communities, Wal-Mart and Massmart are contributing to ending global poverty. Most of the time huge companies such as this have the potential to drain communities dry, but Massmart is intent on giving back to the communities it serves.

Sources: Massmart, Wal-Mart, The Wall Street Journal
Photo: IPSNews

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