Owner of Liqui Moly worldwide, Mr Ernst Prost, took his audience by surprise last week when, instead of promoting his products at a press conference, he announced a generous donation to charities in South Africa.
“I made a decision this morning that we will, establish here in South Africa, with my private money, a Liqui Moly Ernst Prost Foundation and I will put in R5-million,” he announced to thunderous applause.
He also “ordered” his General Manager in South Africa, Melicia Labuschagne, to up her proposed donation of R1 per item sold on selected items, to R10. The proceeds will go towards the feeding and education of children and health.
Liqui Moly South Africa and its partners have supported JAM SA in a number of events and have adopted the Little Dinosaur Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre in Diepsloot as a beneficiary of their social responsibility programme. As well as feeding the children for a year, the company has undertaken to sponsor a makeover at the centre and has already provided shade netting for the playground. A kitchen, office and sick room will be erected soon.
Mr Prost, accompanied by his assistant Alexandra Holzwarth, donned a JAM cap as he headed off to Diepsloot early in the morning where he helped to feed the children their nutritious porridge and hand them specially designed T-shirts and branded scooters.
It was a happy day for Mamma Josephine Selamolela who led the children in songs of thanks, followed by a lively race around the centre on their new “machines”.
Later, in his address to the media, partners and suppliers at the press conference held at JAM headquarters, Mr Prost said: “Our business is engine oil – what has engine oil to do with porridge?” referring to the CSS+ porridge JAM uses to feed children in more than 1 200 ECD centres around South Africa.
“Oil and porridge? I tell you frankly, this is a very confusing country,” he said. “Business is very good here. It is a beautiful country. It is a very rich country. I have stayed in beautiful hotels, seen big cars, the food was fine, we had fabulous, world-famous wine… Then how can it be that you have poor children like these I have been with this morning?
“And David [Brown] told me this day that one child can be fed for R360 for a year. I think yesterday, one bottle of wine was double that.”
He went on to explain that he considered himself lucky. He was born in Germany, not an African township, and he was born in a good time, post Hitler. He is a successful businessman, he lives in a 500-year-old castle and drives a top-of-the-range car. His philosophy, however, is to treat his employees as friends and family and also to give back to those who are not as fortunate as himself.
“I can see the end of my life and I am sure I will have to come to God and he will ask me ‘what have you done with your years on earth?’ I don’t want to answer that all I did was sold oil and made a lot of money. That is not enough. That is not success.
“So, we will stay here and we will do our job in oil…and porridge,” he said.
“You have this slogan: Helping Africa help itself. It is the only way.”