Fertilizing soils, restoring riverways and creating jobs in South Africa 


In South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province, the Amathole Mist Belt region is a vital water catchment area for several important rivers and two of South Africa’s largest cities: Port Elizabeth and East London. However, the area is increasingly under threat by severe drought exacerbated by climate change, overgrazing by livestock, and the growth of alien vegetation, particularly the water-thirsty black wattle.


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Thrive Compost, a social enterprise based in Hogsback in the Eastern Cape, has established a business model that transforms the alien vegetation, combined with manure and other inputs sourced from local farms and businesses, into organic compost and biochar, which is used as a soil amendment for both carbon sequestration and soil health benefits. The compost and biochar are sold to surrounding farms, including nearby citrus growers, to create carbon sinks and water retention traps. 


The US$ 120,000 / ZAR 2 million loan from Conservation International Ventures will enable Thrive Compost to ramp up operations, procure all necessary equipment and become financially sustainable within two to three years. 

This investment is part of South Africa’s Green Outcomes Fund, for which Conservation International Ventures is a Catalytic Finance Partner.  


The investment in Thrive Compost will enable the company to restore over 220 hectares (2.5 acres) of vital water catchment areas to full run-off capacity by clearing alien vegetation. The company’s nutrient-specific compost will in turn help local farmers regenerate soils and increase food production. Moreover, Thrive Compost holds the potential to become a highly scalable business while creating significant job opportunities, especially for women and youth, as they plan to employ 50 people from the local community after two years of operation.