It's often said that thirsty invasive plants are sucking South Africa's rivers dry, something a drought-prone country can ill afford.
It's an issue social entrepreneur Jules Newton is passionate about addressing.
The programme director of Green Business Value Chain, she aims to link formal and informal economies to help rural communities thrive and also to address the country's water crisis.
I mean, literally, you can see riverbeds that are empty , children digging deep down into those riverbeds to fetch water and up in the catchment above there is just wattle.— Jules Newton, Programme director - Green Business Value Chain
In Matatiele, we are working with some very effective small NGOs there to help them (the community) understand.— Jules Newton, Programme director - Green Business Value Chain
According to Newton education is vital to help communities understand that removing invasive plants will not only bring their water back, but can provide an income.
In those settlements where older community members are still knowledgable, she says, progress is quicker. In one example elders knew that driving cattle through a cleared area would deposit dung to restore the land.
When you cut those trees down nothing grows back, the soil quality is gone... In one of those communities some of the old people said let's drive the cattle through here.— Jules Newton, Programme director - Green Business Value Chain
Within 18 months - a completely restored landscape. A beautiful community solution.— Jules Newton, Programme director - Green Business Value Chain
Newton points out that corporate South Africa has a huge risk exposure to water and needs to get involved in solving the problem at grassroots level.
I am wanting to challenge corporate South Africa to say, look, you are full of incredibly talented humans... put the dots together with your clever young managers and get them to start solving some of these environmental challenges with economic solutions.— Jules Newton, Programme director - Green Business Value Chain
She also urges consumers to become activists and use their buying power to force large retailers to use more eco-friendly products. She says this will help boost the production of products that can be gleaned from cleared alien trees.
Take a listen for more on the future of social entrepreneurship
This article first appeared on 702 : A challenge to corporate SA to boost the green value chain