Willowton cricketCSR (corporate social responsibility) has become something of a ‘buzz word’ in recent years, with businesses doing all that they can to appear to be operating in an ethical manner. And while nothing but good can come from such a movement, for many companies it’s simply a matter of lip service, with no real heart behind their actions. Not so for the Willowton Group, recipient of a 2014 eThekwini Living Legend Award of Appreciation.

Founded in 1970, the Willowton Group have operations in KZN, Gauteng and the Western Cape, with their head office located in Pietermaritzburg. They are South Africa’s largest sunflower seed crusher, and are leaders in the FMCG market, but while the contribution that they make to the South African economy is obviously impressive, it’s the people side of their business that really makes them stand out as a company worth watching – and learning from. This is a family-owned enterprise, and as a family they’ve made a choice to give back to their community – in a big way! In celebration of 40 years in business the Willowton Group donated R4 million to 40 deserving SA charities, with each charity receiving R100 000. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The Group is very involved in cricket in South Africa, sponsoring a number of high-profile matches, along with cricket development programmes that target disadvantaged communities. They believe in sustainable and responsible charity, choosing to support organisations and individuals who will be able to ‘pay it forward’ down the road, thus benefiting a much wider circle of people.

The Willowton Group was practicing corporate social responsibility before the term was even coined. They understand the principle of ubuntu that we talk about so often, but very seldom get to see in action. All of us could learn a thing or two about business, and life, from the people at Willowton!

Click here to read more about the Willowton Group and the rest of our 2014 eThekwini Living Legends Awardees.