Trust worms its way into the heart of Ekurhuleni’s business community

Since distributing its first funds in 2008 the Ekurhuleni Peermont Chambers of Commerce Trust (EPCoCT), formerly called the East Rand Chambers of Commerce Trust, has contributed over R12- million to more than 20 community-based projects as a means to uplift and empower the people living in Ekurhuleni.

As one of the BBBEE vehicles within the Peermont Hotels, Casinos and Resorts group the Trust focuses on alleviating poverty by providing training and skills development, buying equipment and machinery, supporting or assisting emerging micro enterprises by giving grants and the establishment of an Agricultural Development Fund and a Business Hubs Development Fund.

Backed by a board of Trustees that include Peermont executives and prominent business people from the business chambers in the community the Trust formally assesses applications for assistance and only approves funding once they (the Trustees) are satisfied that all funding criteria of the Trust have been met.

“While we are here to assist those in need in our community there are certain criteria considered before assistance or a grant is given to ensure Trust funds are appropriately applied. We also play an active role in the ongoing monitoring of funded projects to ensure the proper utilization of grants or equipment. Where necessary leadership support is also available to Trust beneficiaries,” says Makomane Ntabo the Trust’s administrator.

Apart from being committed to making a significant contribution towards sustainable community development the EPCoCT has also shown its concern for the environment and recently granted assistance to an environmentally-friendly emerging micro enterprise based on a small holding in Nigel.

The Trust approved a grant of R451 200 for the expansion of Vermi Trade’s operation, a company that specializes in the conversion of large volumes of organic waste, into highly sought-after and affordable soil enrichment products, through the use of earthworms.

With the Trusts financial assistance the company, which was started by Elwyn Pitt (managing director) in 2008 was able to construct a 240m² shed, purchase equipment like a harvesting machine and extra earthworms which has largely contributed to Pitt being able to produce and sell numerous products under the Vermi Power Brand.

These include Vermicast (pure earthworm excrement), Vermi Pot (potting soil), Vermi Lawn (lawn dressing) and Vermi Liquid (liquid vermicast) which play a vital role in regenerating and stabilizing soil structures while also increasing the organic content and consequently the water-holding capacity of soil.

One of the most popular products, Vermi Power Vermicast, says Pitt can best be described as “Mother Nature’s soil enhancement of choice. This rich humus like digested output of the worm includes an almost complete range of nutrients and microbial life that the soil and plant requires to grow.

“It is one of the most natural soil enrichments available; is environmentally friendly; all natural, easy to use; and safe to handle with a pleasant earthy aroma.”

While the production of the above products require a vast amount of waste the latter does not have a severe financial impact on Vermi Trade as the grass required is sourced on-site through the regular cutting of the grass while cow manure is sourced from neighbours.

The two ingredients are then mixed and placed in a container and worms are introduced. Under ideal conditions, the worms would eat through all the waste within six weeks and at the same time would have reproduced making it a sustainable enterprise while being environmentally-friendly.

For households with green waste that would like to be more proactive in the fight against global warming then the Vermi Worx - the company’s domestic earthworm factory is just the answer. The concept is the same as applied at Pitt’s small holding operation, but just in a smaller “take away” version. The company also have earthworms for resale for home owners who wish to start or expand their domestic earthworm factories.

Pitt’s company is also making a further positive contribution to the environment with the establishment of vermiculture projects which can eliminate greenhouse gasses.

Most authorities have a serious challenge when it comes to decomposing green waste at landfill sites - a big culprit when it comes to the release of greenhouse gasses and one of the causes of climate change.

Through vermiculture projects this waste can be positively disposed of/utilized with numerous spinoffs. For example, Pitt established a project for Sasolburg where 10 community members are employed. They recycle organic waste using earthworms to produce vermicast which in turn is used to grow organic vegetables. It (vermicast) is also an excellent way to rebuild the structure of the soil in parks and open areas in towns and cities and is a good way of addressing desertification.

For further information about vermiculture projects or the environmental benefits of using the above products visit or call Elwyn Pitt on 086 505 1096.

- Projects