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BLACK AUTHORS TRUST (article first published : 2007-04-27)

Leading publisher, Macmillan South Africa (Pty) Ltd has launched a Broad-Based Black Empowerment trust for the benefit of black authors and black author training in South Africa. The Macmillan Author’s Share Trust is the first scheme to specifically cater for development and empowerment of Black authors in the education focused publishing sector in South Africa.

The Trust is aimed at providing qualified authors with an opportunity to acquire an ownership interest in Macmillan South Africa via the trust as well as financially contribute towards the training and development of trainee authors.

There is no doubt that there is a critical shortage of quality Black authors for the educational materials in South Africa. The situation is the result of limited training opportunity, poor support structures and a lack of exposure to the publishing side of the industry. The effects have been particularly hard felt with the change to outcomes based education in 2001.

“The commitment to publishing in Black and indigenous languages – something we initiated almost six years ago – is severely under pressure,” says Chris Paterson, Chairman of Macmillan Education. “We need more good Black authors, particularly considering the demand that future readers will make on the publishing industry and in turn on Black authors.”

The Trust will operate on an initial purchase of 5 percent of the shares in Macmillan. To enable the Trust to purchase the Scheme Shares, another Macmillan group company will make available an interest free loan to the Trust. The Trust will receive annual dividends from the ownership of its shares of which 80% of the dividends received will be used to repay the loan and 20% will be used for the benefit of authors. It is envisioned that once the loan has been fully repaid, the entire dividend will be used for the benefit authors.

“In addition we envision that the Trust will help foster sufficient numbers of Black writers. The aim is to increase the numbers of Black Authors substantially as a matter of priority,” adds Chris Paterson.

Establishing the Trust along with other BBEE initiatives is part of Macmillan’s commitment to growing the educational publishing industry. The Trust formation is part of the company’s broader BBEE structuring to allow a 25% BBEE shareholding to the South African operation.




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