How to create brand ambassadors


At Timbali Technology Incubator, behaviour and attitude changes spearheaded by strategic communication, led to a production increase of 96%. Simultaneously, upwards communication flow improved with 15%; understanding of the “cost of development” grew from less than 20% of the audience to 90%; and the understanding of Timbali’s business and funding model increased from 60% to 100% (December 2012).

Trusting internal stakeholders with your message, and equipping them to deliver it, is an extremely powerful stakeholder management strategy, as we experienced in the world of agri-incubation.

Timbali Technology Incubator is an agri-incubator that sets up small-scale farmers in their own businesses. In doing so, its model addresses burning national issues such as food security, land utilisation and youth unemployment. This non-profit organisation receives its funding from government, private companies and international aid organisations.

received in funding
Production increase
understanding of the Timbali model

DevCom’s involvement with Timbali started in 2010, with stakeholder management as our brief. At that stage, the incubator had only one funder and it had limited, ad hoc communication with its stakeholders.

We were given R5 000 per month with which to make a difference. We started by spending it on research. A series of focus groups confirmed that Timbali was not telling its stories. We responded by gathering the abundance of success stories and publishing them in a monthly electronic newsletter that was sent to selected individuals.

The resultant audit covered internal and external audiences. Internally we surveyed employees and off-site and on-site farmers, while the external component involve funders, policy makers, government departments, and private agriculture and corporate social investment role players.

The research revealed that:
– Neither employees nor the farmers fully understood how the Timbali model worked. This impacted their commitment to quality and standards, and their productivity. In addition to addressing these business concerns, it was imperative to ensure that the farmers understood exactly how the Timbali network benefitted them as a means to counter local politicians’ efforts to lure farmers away from the support model to meet their own political agendas.
– Timbali needed to improve specific aspects of its operation before it could successfully duplicate its model in other provinces.

DevCom was set specific, business-integrated targets. Our campaign had to increase operational and project funding by R250 000 in order to be self-funded, and our communication efforts had to realise a 15% production increase.

We designed an integrated communication campaign based on the conviction that if we empowered the internal audiences with the tools to communicate about Timbali at every opportunity they have, we would reach the funding goal without large investments in an external campaign.

The Timbali farmers have become our inspiration. We buy top class flowers from Alucia Ngobane, a Timbali star, every time we visit.


  • We helped Timbali to increase its funding, not by R250 000 but by R2,5 million
  • production increased by between 74% and 96%, depending on the crops concerned.
  • the campaign increased the audiences’ understanding of the Timbali model to 100%.

DevCom and Timbali Technology Incubator won an African Gold Quill and a Gold Quill Award of Excellence for the stakeholder campaign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed