Impact Catalyst leverages collaboration, opportunities to achieve ‘impact beyond scale’

10th May 2022 By: Simone Liedtke - Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

Impact Catalyst leverages collaboration, opportunities to achieve ‘impact beyond scale’

The initiatives of the Impact Catalyst will leverage collaboration and pursue opportunities across sectors to achieve impact beyond the scale of individual participants, says CEO Charl Harding, who adds that the Impact Catalyst is a driver of change and large-scale socio-economic development initiatives through collaboration between government, the private sector and civil society.

“The Impact Catalyst is a collective impact model used to drive long-term initiatives, it enables a shared vision and common understanding of the problem and enables co-investment of resources from the public and private sectors on linked initiatives,” he explains.

The initiative seeks to support systemic socio-economic development planning and implementation, Harding adds, noting that the Impact Catalyst is focusing on economic development in sectors such as the biodiversity economy, agriculture, agri-business, supplier development and renewable energy, as well as social development.

“The Impact Catalyst involves establishing a collaborative regional development platform through which its programmes are implemented to achieve social and economic change for a specific province in South Africa.”

The Impact Catalyst currently has initiatives running in Limpopo, the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and the North-West.

However, with the Covid-19 pandemic presenting a “new normal”, Harding says that the initiative is focusing on “the need and urgency of its interventions”, which he notes has “become greater in the new normal”.

Operationally, the Impact Catalyst is a tenant of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria. It is also subject to the CSIR’s Covid-19 policies, where, inter alia, masks are required for entry into the campus.

“We are still limited to two days per week in the office on campus, and admission to campus is governed by an online screening questionnaire. Any risk of contact with, or symptoms of Covid, prevents one from entry to the campus,” Harding elaborates, adding that other protocols include social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitising where necessary, as well as any site-specific additional protocols that may be required.


The Impact Catalyst has a number of large initiatives being implemented, such as the “Alien Vegeration Removal and Agriculture Management Programme” which sees major partners come together to implement the largest non-governmental alien vegetation removal and beneficiation programme in South Africa and, possibly, in Africa.

Harding explains that the programme is an integrated and systemic programme that addresses the total value chain of bush encroachment species.

“The model will seek the best return on investment and monitor the social, economic and environmental impacts for roll out to other areas both provincially and nationally. The project seeks to use innovation and technology such as drones and satellites to monitor vegetation and maintenance of productive landscapes during and after manual clearing and implementation. The first phase of the project will employ over 4000 community beneficiaries.”

Another focus is the Limpopo Road Safety Programme, which Harding says will “make a significant impact in the Limpopo province with a reduction in the accidents and lives lost owing to road and pedestrian accidents”.

“The number of children involved in road accidents and that as a result die is unacceptable, and this programme will reduce this trend,” he stresses.

The programme comprises the involvement of public officials, the strengthening or establishment of GIS-enabled data management platforms, as well as the training of officials and the private sector on star ratings for roads, among others.

In addition, the Impact Catalyst is focused on community-orientated primary care, as well as the reduction of chronic conditions, improved medication compliance, which Harding says covers 3.6-million people, including 56 700 mine employees.

The initiatives are co-funded and co-implemented, and includes a common monitoring and evaluation framework, which is used to indicate that the desired impact is being achieved.

The Impact Catalyst also co-ordinates, facilitates, implements, tracks, and manages the initiatives until it becomes self-sustainable.