Renowned social entrepreneur and founder of OzHarvest, Ronni Kahn AO, is on a visit to South Africa to witness firsthand the remarkable growth of sister organisation SA Harvest over the last four years. As SA Harvest celebrates a significant milestone of delivering 50 million meals in four years to hungry people around the country, Ronni pays tribute to this achievement and to SA Harvest’s ongoing mission to end hunger in South Africa.
Born in South Africa and raised during the apartheid years, Ronni’s connection to the country runs deep. Growing up next door to Alan Browde, founder of SA Harvest, and being childhood friends, Ronni’s formative years were intertwined with the Browde family. She emigrated to Australia in 1998 and started an events management business where she witnessed huge volumes of food going to waste every day, soon realising she was part of the problem. Knowing that millions of people were going hungry, she knew this was something that had to be fixed.
Reflecting on the inspiration that South Africa provided for the establishment of OzHarvest, which has delivered 244 million meals since 2004, Ronni says, “I wasn’t galvanised into action until I went back to visit South Africa after many years. I hadn’t been back since Nelson Mandela was released.” It was during this period that Selma Browde, Alan’s mother and a changemaker in her own right, became a catalyst for Ronni’s philanthropic journey and decision to initiate OzHarvest.
Selma, an oncologist, was involved in impactful work, which included getting electricity into Soweto. This sparked a fire in Ronni. “It’s a city of millions of people and when Selma took me to Soweto and told me about what she had achieved, I wanted to know what it would feel like to have that sort of impact on that many people.” She returned to Australia and in 2004 she established OzHarvest. In 2005, together with pro bono lawyers, lobbied government to have the civil liabilities amendment act passed in NSW to allow good food to be given away for free without any fear of liability to the donor, with all states following suit.
Ronni’s work in Australia provided the inspiration and catalyst for her childhood friend Alan Browde to establish SA Harvest based on the OzHarvest model in 2019. SA Harvest has achieved remarkable success, rescuing 15 million kilograms of food and delivering 50 million meals in just four years. Ronni’s role on the board of SA Harvest emphasises her ongoing commitment to the organisation’s growth, development and its mission to end hunger in South Africa.
Commenting on her visit, Ronni stated, “Returning to South Africa is always a powerful experience for me. Witnessing the growth and impact of SA Harvest in the country of my birth is truly inspiring. The 50 million meal milestone is a testament to the dedication of the SA Harvest team and the positive change we can achieve when we come together to tackle the pressing issues of hunger, food waste and climate change .”
During her visit, Ronni has engaged with SA Harvest’s team and beneficiary organisations. The celebration of the 50 million meal milestone underscores SA Harvest’s commitment to alleviating food insecurity and fostering sustainable solutions to address hunger in South Africa. Alan Browde concludes, “Ronni has done amazing work in Australia which propelled the growth of the Harvest model across the world – now also in the U.K., Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam and South Africa. She continues to be a major global force in the fight against food waste, hunger and climate change and the SA Harvest team has been hugely inspired by her visit”.