Are you a retired food industry expert? If so, you and your expertise are needed!

The Agrifood Technology Station, part of CPUT, is embarking on a worthy project to harness the expertise of food industry ‘elders’ in order assist and mentor future food start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures.

The project, entitled “Creation of a Grey Knowledge Database for Assisting Agro-processing SMMEs”, is funded by the Cape Higher Education Consortium and which is part of realising the Western Cape Provincial Government’s development goals under Project Khulisa.

The aim of the project is to ensure the preservation – and create access to – a wealth of knowledge, expertise and networks to benefit the next generation of food industry stakeholders, especially SMMEs.

With such a cooperative database in place, the actual outputs and impacts that could be derived from it would be three-fold, and CPUT’s Larry Dolley outlines how retirees can be a part of this process:

  1. A source of expertise in specific sub-fields which could offer assistance on whatever basis to SMMEs in the agro-processing field.
  2. A source of researchable or implementable solutions to problems in the different industry sectors as identified by these experts.
  3. A source of data and information that will further inform policy and strategies to government at all levels, thereby creating an enabling environment for SMMEs to grow.

A comparable system is run by the Dutch government (PUM). In this instance it is generously funded by the state and involves retired Dutch experts travelling all over the developing world offering their expertise. The pay-off for participants is a trip to another country, with recipient company only paying for their accommodation and local transport.

“For this Western Cape (and eventually South African) version, funding is an obvious challenge,” comments Dolley.

“As a start, it must be stated up-front that the travelling part will be local and possibly eventually north of the SA border. This is seen as a possible drawcard for possible participants. If successful, funding may then be more easily procured for paying stipends and for other forms of reward.”

The call for registration and response is open to experts nationally under a formal working framework that has been put in place.

Part of this is identification of willing experts, and also the validation of their expertise, will be confirmed via an interview.

Benefits to registered experts:

  1. You can apply your rich knowledge in assisting companies with specific problems relevant to your expertise.
  2. You may work with overseas experts where such are acquired via other funding agencies.
  3. Contribute to growing small companies in the field.

Conditions under which this will be done:

  1. Where available, a stipend will be paid. For those experts outside of the greater Cape Town area, transport and accommodation may be arranged.
  2. The operating framework will include signing of non-disclosures where this is deemed necessary.
  3. Any person on the database is not compelled to respond to any requests for assistance.
  4. Where assistance is rendered by an expert, the relationship developed may be terminated at any time the parties deem it fit.
  5. Deadlines are negotiable between the expert and the recipient company.
  6. After putting together experts and recipients, the relationship may eventually be independent of the Agrifood Technology Station.

If you wish to be part of this database, please send an e-mail to [email protected] (alternatively call 021 959-6276). You will then be contacted and the process of interviewing and validation will begin.