Four-month programme on South African farms has facilitated ”significant personal and career growth” for over 30 female employees

Ozblu Magica blueberries

United Exports has partnered with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Koue Bokkeveld training centre in the intensive leadership training of female employees on Ozblu farms in South Africa.

The four-month training programme, which was completed last year, has facilitated ”significant personal and career growth” for over 30 female employees at United Exports in junior and middle management positions, the group noted.

The company has reported ”striking increases” in productivity and strong, emerging leadership skills among the women who participated, it said.

As a result, many of the participants had taken on more responsibility and felt equipped to thrive in their roles, United Exports stated, with training in resolving conflict, communication and situational leadership of particular value.

United Exports said it was aiming to develop women into leadership roles, and consequently, the IFC adapted their Gender Equality and Returns (GEAR) training for the agribusiness sector.

“We aim to promote gender equality and actively encourage more women into leadership roles at United Exports,” explained United Exports founder Roger Horak. “The leadership training not only facilitated the skills development of 34 women, but it also built their confidence.

”When I read the affirming stories that the IFC has published, I get a real sense of this self-assurance,” he noted. ”I believe we are witnessing the growth of our future leaders. We choose to invest in our female employees and we want them to grow into more leadership roles.

“I will always have a passion for reducing inequalities,” Horak continued. ”And one of our key ESG focus areas at United Exports is aligned with a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal – Reducing Inequality.

”As a company, we pride ourselves on our strategy within the ESG framework, and we see this as a distinct advantage,” he said. ”So much so that we are looking at launching the ‘Ozblu Recipe’, which delivers the message as to why Ozblu blueberries are different to others and speaks to everything we do alongside the genetics. And a big part of that is ESG.”