The Indaba Foundation tackles the critical need for ECD in the wine industry

Wednesday, 23 June, 2021
Wines of South Africa, Julia Moore
Andre Shearer has been in the wine industry for a very long time, having bravely started the US based wine business Cape Classics with his brother Gary in 1991 when SA wines were unknown in the US, and SA’s reputation was still languishing under the ravages of anti-apartheid sanctions. Yet the brothers prevailed and built up their company into the largest importer of SA wines into the US.

Shearer stepped down as CEO in January 2020, after almost 30 years, but realised his involvement in the SA wine industry was far from over. “My decades-long experience with the broader wine industry exposed me directly to the multiple ills and challenges that faced the poorer communities in our region. While so many individual farmers and companies try hard to bring about change in the lives of their employees and their families, our industry as a whole has not managed to make a significant impact on the evils of poverty,” he says referring to health, housing, education and the like.

Yet the wine industry is a significant one on the South African landscape, employing almost 300 000 people both in agriculture and tourism, and contributing R40 billion to the country’s GDP. So improving the overall standard of living in these communities stretched across the Western Cape, would make a worthy impact not only on the lives of many, but also on the ultimate quality of the wine we produce and therefore the South African economy.

“Changing these circumstances seems paralysingly difficult,” says Shearer, “but we have to tackle it somehow. We have to critically and swiftly reimagine how we can more urgently participate in societal regeneration and reframing.”

Shearer decided to focus his energy one an essential building block to upliftment: Early Childhood Education and Development (ECD). “After Maternal Health, it is the cornerstone of what makes us human,” he states emphatically.

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