“Invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain,” said Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors who ever lived. He continued: “The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs.”
With these simple yet profound words, Tesla, who is widely regarded to have been ahead of his time, was already musing about how technology and established processes can be harnessed and re-purposed for social good.
Owing to decades of apartheid and centuries of colonisation, poverty remains one of the most daunting socio-economic challenges facing the country.
In addition to cavernous inequalities, which the World Bank recently described as the worst in the world, South Africa has also earned the ignominy of having one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, where over 40% of its young and economically active populace lies idle, according to the expanded definition of unemployment.
The triple challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment, coupled with the rising cost of living, have significantly eroded the purchasing power of many households.
The South African Reserve Bank alluded to this recently and noted that the risk of a spillover of the Russia-Ukraine war could hurt the country’s financial stability through rising food and fuel inflation, lower economic growth, and high unemployment.
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Emerging markets, such as South Africa, have not been spared the impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which has manifested itself through substantial increases in the price of oil, gas, wheat, and other grains.
The looming prospect of increasing levels of hunger and the deteriorating environment, which has led to a spike in natural disasters, has compelled Castle Lager to examine how it can leverage digitalisation and the goodness within the brewing process of Mzansi’s favourite beer to address the looming hunger, which impacts one in 10 South Africans daily, while at the same time, limiting the impact of its operations on the environment.
This is how the Bread of the Nation initiative was born, which is a first-of-its-kind initiative in South Africa, where the by-product from Castle Lager’s beer brewing process is re-purposed to produce a highly nutritious and protein-packed bread mix. The beauty of this initiative is that it not only helps to leverage the brand’s production process for the greater good that fuels the everyday hard-working South African, but it also significantly reduces the impact of South African Breweries’ operations on the environment.
Food waste, according to the UNEP Food Waste Index 2021, accounts for between 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Bread is an integral part of nutrition for millions of South Africans. It is a convenient staple that is a quick base for the meal. It is versatile for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and saves up on time.
However, the unprecedented rise in the cost of living is rapidly rendering this staple diet unaffordable for a growing number of South Africans. Through the Bread of the Nation initiative, the brand hopes to make a dent in hunger while preserving the integrity of the environment.
Bread of the Nation is but a small contribution that Castle Lager is making to address food security. The bread mix, which will produce approximately 30 000 loaves of bread a year, will serve as a reminder of how innovation can be harnessed for social good.
Connectivity and technology have been major disruptors that have fundamentally changed how society lives, works, and interacts. As the producers of South Africa’s favourite beer, Castle Lager believes that the private sector and even civil society have access to a lot of untapped technology and processes that can be leveraged to help to address some of the social ills and challenges.
It behooves us to identify these processes and technologies and repurpose them for the greater good. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. The building blocks are already in place to build and anchor a society we all desire.
The contribution Castle Lager is making with the Bread of the Nation initiative may be negligible in terms of scale. However, Castle Lager believes that it has the potential to unlock similar initiatives out there. Most importantly, it demonstrates what can be achieved when everyone works in concert to harness what they have built over the years for the greater good.
We do not have to wait until we have a perfect solution. Every little contribution will create a ripple effect and will go a long way toward making South Africa a great place to live, work and raise a family.
We call upon everyone to think about how we can harness and leverage what we have developed for social good and to be more mainstream rather than niche. In other words, we must be more inclusive in our approach to innovation going forward so that we can expand our reach to transform the lives of the rest of the world.