Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s Women’s Dialogue inaugural event drew local community organisations, nominated individuals recognised for their work within the communities and funders from the renewable energy sector together, in a drive to increase community organisations’ access to funds.
The collective annual budget of the various renewable energy projects in the Kouga region is around R40 million. So, although the Jbay Women’s Dialogue is a Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm initiative, economic development managers and representatives from other wind farms joined the event to provide greater impact and to offer community organisations help to build relationships with potential funders by extending their network and increasing their reach.
An exercise by Ms. Masechaba Mabilu introduced us to another world of not thinking that your stakeholders are only those you think they are but even those you don’t think you have something in common with, each can benefit from one another. “This is networking at another level; the Women’s Dialogue introduced us to another world and fresh way of thinking,” commented, Mercy Cwayi, leader of On Eagle’s Wings.
Speaking on the inspiration for this Women’s group, Marion Green-Thompson, Economic Development Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm said: “We have determined during our stakeholder research that women in the Jeffreys Bay and surrounding areas play a huge role in caring for their local communities through various initiatives and activities. It is therefore important to create a platform for the women to inform us so that we can select, support and grow economic development projects that are meaningful and impactful.”
“We would like the Jbay Women’s Dialogue to assist organisations to access these funds, by creating a platform which enables this engagement, brings the collective knowledge of the area into the room and allows for the coordinated planning between funders and local NGO’s and in the long run will allow for the establishment of an independent and objective process around the allocation of funding to NGO’s,” explained Green-Thompson
The event gave representatives a chance to showcase their community organisation’s work and learn how to increase the opportunity to attract funding. Organisations created image storyboards and had the chance to present a summary of their community work.
Margreet Wibbelink, Clinic Director at Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic, said: “The value for me personally was to network and gain insights into proposal writing, fundraising and how to better spearhead our project. This will benefit our organization and enable us to expand our services.”
Wibbelink added “The more we can work together with organisations servicing our communities, the bigger impact we can have; together we are the change our community needs.”
“The wind farms are in essence strategic partners for the NGO’s and the Dialogue provides a platform to educate the ED managers on what organisations are doing in the area,” added Green-Thompson.
In closing, Green-Thompson said: “Women are the threads that hold the fabric of society together, they are the mothers, carers, providers, the counsellors, wives and sisters that provide the bedrock of most communities, and therefore engaging with them on how they can be supported to continue to provide these services is critical to ensuring that they continue to provide these important services in the community.”