Tarkastad – the little town with big assets

Simanye’s Value Web approach is all about grass roots driven development and interventions that are tailored to unique community needs as decided by the communities themselves. The very people undergoing ‘’development’’ are responsible for ensuring it takes place and assets are emphasized over needs. Assets also take many forms, including not just financial but also social, natural, physical, associational and so forth.

When citizens of Tarkastad, a small town in the Eastern Cape, contacted Simanye for help two years ago, we were unsure of just how much we could help given the distance. However, we agreed to carry out Asset Based Community Driven development (ABCD) workshops with Mmapula’s help as we were struck by the passion of Tarkastad’s inhabitants. ABCD workshops are where communities identify their assets and see how best to mobilise them in order to drive their own development.

Following on the success of ABCD, we could see that this community was truly fired up and had amazing social cohesion. The workshops resulted in a local development group forming and Garvin Willemse, who Simanye supports for local project management, was appointed as its head. Given the distance Simanye cannot support on the ground more than once or twice a year so the bulk of our support is electronic and yet this little community has thrived following the initial ABCD process.

Many citizens have come together to help small businesses and to help clean and beautify the town. Education and skills development initiatives have cropped up in the form of social enterprises and most recently Tarkastad got its first real restaurant – The Story (pictured above).  All of these initiatives employ and upskill local community members as well as benefit them indirectly, thus helping to plug economic leaks.

Communal support for the success of small businesses is palpable in the community.  Garvin says “The highlight last week was certainly the dinner at The Story. It was our first evening event and it was a major success.  We decided to cap the numbers at 40 and had such a response that we had to stop bookings earlier than we thought.  The vibe in the Story was amazing and the food was even greater. Our community came out to play. We had lots of requests to do this again, so our next evening event will be on 28 November 2015 in the form of a steak evening, because we do steak well.’’

Tarkastad, we are very proud of you! You are a true example of the change that can happen when communities take charge of their own development and using the assets that they already have – no matter how small these assets may seem at first. When assets are pooled and mobilised they multiply in no time.  We are looking forward to seeing what the next two years will bring.

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