We strongly believe in the power of education and its ability to transform lives. This belief has driven our commitment to fostering a culture of learning and investing in the education of our wider family. As a priority area of investment, Groundcover subsidies the cost of school fees for all of our employees’ children. We ensure they all have access to books, stationary, sports equipment, extramural activities and transport. The Groundcover Landrover is well known in Howick carting children to and from extra mural activities, sports matches and school events.
Key to ensuring the support for our learners, we have an onsite homework and study class through which we employ 2 people to assist our primary and secondary schoolchildren with homework, school projects and extra learning.
Several of our children have now been through tertiary education, and we are proud that our support system has helped nurture, among others, teachers, commerce professionals, sports coaches, and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, we have had several children play provincial sport and excel in other cultural activities.
Most of our workers have been recruited locally, and many live on our farm. Our relationships are based on respect and mutual trust, and we enjoy a very informal working environment. We seek to support the well-being of our staff by encouraging personal growth, subsidising medical bills and offering financial support to build their lives in the manner which they choose
We recognise the vital role that small business plays in supporting small communities and driving innovation and so, over the years, we have assisted several local entrepreneurs and craftsman to establish their own businesses. This has included, through resource funding, business coaching and support with networking. Our efforts have supported new enterprises in leatherwork, construction, maintenance, taxi, trading and music businesses. These ventures have included some of our own staff who, although we have invested in their training, we seek to encourage to grow beyond the boundaries of our own business.
We also seek to support our wider community and over the years have donated thousands of pairs of shoes to orphanages, NGO’s, environmental associations, and other good causes.
We believe that the purpose of an artisan is to create a beautiful and functional product, that is made with honesty. With the effects of mass production, it is no surprise that the labour of a true artisan is practically non-existent in modern industry. However, as with the foundational motivation of our business, Groundcover seeks to go against the grain, and hold true to the artisanal spirit.
In order to offer our customer an honest and true product, we cut no corners in our production process. We source the best inputs available and ensure each item is made with care and attention. For example, all of our footwear includes a veg-tan leather insole, as compared to a cheaper fibreboard insert that most of our competitors use. This ensures that the insole doesn’t rot, the footwear moulds to the wearers foot over time and offers the best long-term comfort.
We put a lot of effort into knowing the source of all inputs, including how their producers support their own communities. Even in the face of cheaper imports, we source all of our material locally, and seek to choose suppliers who have a similar value system to us.
We believe in the longevity of our product, and offer resoles and relasts on all our footwear, at cost. We have had numerous customers coming back for shoe repairs on footwear that are in excess of 10 years old.
We take our duty as stewards of our 160ha farm very seriously. Since we arrived, we have been clearing our valley of alien vegetation, and have planted hundreds of indigenous trees as we seek to rewild the area back to its original state.
As a business we recycle our waste and take an active part in our Conservancy’s efforts to keep Currys Post clean, safe and wildlife-friendly.
We have a shoe recycling box in our shop where you can drop off your old shoes. Where possible, these are patched up and distributed to people in need.
In order to reduce our carbon emissions, we are in the process of going off grid through solar power generation for our factory, and have installed solar water heaters on all employees’ houses to save on electricity usage. We have also installed a ram pump in the valley to supply our water needs and this presently pumps up to 15000 litres a day, using no electricity.