“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” ~ Nelson Mandela
Atlantis may not be an easy place to grow up and live, but for families whose livelihoods are linked to Atlantis Seafood Products (ASP) there’s hope.
Meet Anna, whose parents were moved to Atlantis in the 1970s so this has always been home for her. Anna was fortunate to get a job at Atlantis Seafood Products in 2016, the little-known specialised fresh and frozen seafood factory.
This was when ASP was sold to the Workers Trust and the employees of ASP became beneficiaries of the Trust, deriving 100% of the benefits of the company. ASP is 100% black-owned, with a workforce that comprises 85% women, many single mothers and all from the Atlantis community and surrounds.
Now the third-biggest fresh and frozen seafood processing and packing factory in South Africa, ASP employs some 359 people. For employees like Anna, herself a single mom, her job puts food on the table for at least three people. Thinking about it another way, the employees of ASP indirectly support over 1,500 people in the Atlantis community.
This is a big improvement from the situation that Anna and her family experienced when they arrived in Atlantis over 30 years ago, but there is still a long way to go if she, and the men and women of ASP, are to make sure that their children also have the opportunity for better lives.
It starts with training and upskilling. Anna and her colleagues are all given the chance to receive training at ASP. In Anna’s case, she started at the factory as a general worker and every time there was a chance to learn something new, she took it. Her colleagues now admire her filleting skill, something which takes many people years to hone.
To make the good times last, the ASP team know that they have to ensure their lives and the lives of their Atlantis community continuously improve.
Supporting the Atlantis Community
ASP is committed to supporting the Atlantis community, not just by giving people like Anna jobs, but by supporting local businesses. Over 20% of what ASP has spent on goods and services over the last two years has been from businesses that are owned by previously disadvantaged people. So the employees of ASP are directly helping to make other businesses in Atlantis better. There are quite a few of these, like M&B Fire Appliance.
M&B Fire Appliance is managed by the Cloete family, and JP, the son of the founder, started at the bottom and worked his way up to management. They now employ 20 people and they have made a big difference to the youth in the Atlantis community by offering them jobs. Like ASP, they like to employ people who come from Atlantis. They also make sure that the ASP team are safe in their place of work.
There are at least another 15 businesses like this that ASP supports in this community, which makes Anna and her colleagues proud to be part of the ASP team.
ASP has managed to employ and train people, offer opportunities to their suppliers and made the lives of so many better – all this without having viable fishing quotas.
If you think about it, how many more opportunities would there be for the people in the Atlantis community if raw material did not have to be purchased from abroad? If ASP had a viable fishing allocation, the team at ASP and their families would get all of the benefits. This would be the way to change their lives and make sure that the ASP factory would be around for many years.
Anna hopes that things will get better; that there will be more jobs and that this will improve her community. More money would mean better housing, better roads, better schools and better clinics. If more people had jobs there would be less crime.
It is Anna’s greatest hope that the hard work that she and the men and women of ASP have done is not wasted and that, with viable quotas, their business will continue to grow so that their children and the community will not have to struggle as they did.