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United Exports Female Employees Forge Ahead

PERTH, 2 April 2024 – The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, United Exports and the Koue Bokkeveld training centre partnered in the intensive leadership training of female employees on OZblu® farms in South Africa. (https://www.ifc.org/en/stories/2024/breaking-the-grass-ceiling). 

The four-month training programme, completed last year, has facilitated significant personal and career growth for over 30 female employees at United Exports in junior and middle management positions. And the company has reported striking increases in productivity and strong, emerging leadership skills among the women who participated. Many of the participants have been able to take on more responsibility and feel equipped to thrive in their roles. Of particular value was the training in resolving conflict, communication and situational leadership.

United Exports aims to develop women into leadership roles, and consequently, the IFC adapted their Gender Equality and Returns (GEAR) training, an inventive global programme that helps women take on leadership, for the agribusiness sector.

Each partner delivering the programme brought their unique strengths to the training programme. United Exports is a global precision agri-company specialising in the class-leading OZblu®blueberries and has a large production and operational footprint globally, as well as in South Africa. The IFC – a member of the World Bank Group – is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Koue Bokkeveld in the Western Cape focuses on all aspects of community development for workers in the area. 

Founder of United Exports, Roger Horak, comments, “We aim to promote gender equality and actively encourage more women into leadership roles at United Exports. The leadership training not only facilitated the skills development of 34 women, but it also built their confidence. When I read the affirming stories that the IFC has published, I get a real sense of this self-assurance. I believe we are witnessing the growth of our future leaders. We choose to invest in our female employees and we want them to grow into more leadership roles.”

Horak is based in Australia but grew up in South Africa. He says, “I will always have a passion for reducing inequalities. And one of our key ESG focus areas at United Exports is aligned with a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal – Reducing Inequality.

As a company, we pride ourselves on our strategy within the ESG framework, and we see this as a distinct advantage.  So much so that we are looking at launching the ‘OZblu® Recipe’, which delivers the message as to why OZblu® blueberries are different to others and speaks to everything we do alongside the genetics. And a big part of that is ESG.”