WINEFORGOOD: The age of the social entrepreneur enters the South African wine industry

Thursday, 22 April, 2021
Malu Lambert
South Africa’s Aware Ambassadors practice daily acts of kindness in their communities effecting change while also empowering themselves

“A little bit of good can turn into a whole lot of good when fuelled by the commitment of a social entrepreneur,” said Jeff Skoll, the founder of Skoll World Forum, an international platform driving the concept of social entrepreneurship.

New to the idea? Thought-leader on the subject the late J. Gregory Dees describes it as thus: “social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the social sector… engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning, acting boldly without being limited by resources in hand, and exhibiting a heightened sense of accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created.”

Back in 1996 then president of the U.S.A Bill Clinton declared in his State of the Union address that the ‘era of big government was over’ and would be replaced with an era of social entrepreneurship and national service, ‘whereby citizens would become directly involved in meeting needs and addressing public problems and to do so social entrepreneurs would invent new solutions’.

The concept is fast-gaining traction worldwide with the belief that if you enable communities with the tools to bring about change with social issues, it becomes a long-lasting solution, rather than simply putting a Band-Aid on the situation like many relief programmes, as welcome as they are, often do.

There are a number of these initiatives gaining traction in South Africa, including in the wine industry. The EverGrow Foundation (previously the Vinpro Foundation) is currently working in partnership with to train and upskill women who will act as ambassadors to fight against alcohol abuse. is the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education and is the alcohol industry’s response to concerns regarding alcohol misuse and abuse.

The chosen Aware Ambassadors all completed a Harm Reduction Training programme to equip themselves with the necessary skills to assist their respective communities. This programme gives them the opportunity to learn about alcohol usage, responsible consumption and the dangerous behaviour often associated with it. The aim is for these women is to be a reference point in each community and are from various farming communities in and around the Cape Winelands including Grabouw, Stellenbosch, Vredendal and Langeberg.

The Aware Ambassadors use the tools at their disposal to transform their own communities and empower themselves while they do so.

“One of the cases that stood out to me was how someone who used to drink a lot and whose life was falling apart because of alcohol abuse is now doing so much better,” shared Ambassador Jenine Nero from the Rooidraai farm outside of Malmesbury.

“The person and their partner abused alcohol and they had a child who was being neglected because of it. The couple went their separate ways and the child lived with the father. He realised he needed to make a big change, not just for himself, but for his child. We had many, long and emotional discussions. And soon I could see that a real change had taken place. He now looks after himself and his child. He has support from a family member and together they make sure that the child goes to school and is dressed neatly.”

The beauty of this programme is that by helping others, these Ambassadors also help themselves. A domino effect of small acts of kindness crescendoing into the greater good.

“Becoming a part of the EverGrow Foundation team really came at the right time in my life,” said Jenine. “At that time I was struggling myself, because I felt that my life had come to a standstill. All my friends had done something with their lives, and I always knew I wanted to work with people, but I didn’t know how to go about it.

“For the past few months that I have been a part of the Aware Ambassador Project, I have grown as a person. I have learnt so many things about myself that I did not know. I have learnt how to first look after myself, and to deal with my own problems, before I can go out and help my community. I now know how to protect myself emotionally when I work in my community.

“My mission is to lighten people’s hardship.”

This programme is funded by and the duration of the programme is dependent on available funding.

There are plenty of good news stories about upliftment and transformation in the South African Wine Industry. The #wineforgood website, launched by in June 2016, hosts all the positive stories from the winelands, of which there are plenty. has made April a focus for #wineforgood stories. Share them far and wide and spread the good news about South African wine.


Jenine Nero
Jenine Nero

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