Women Entrepreneurs In South Africa

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Women are the backbone of Africa’s agricultural sector. The average African woman is a budding entrepreneur either by choice or by circumstance. From farm to fork, African women are players along the entire agricultural value chain, be it as farmers, livestock breeders, processors, traders, workers, entrepreneurs or consumers.

In African communities, several women entrepreneurs are playing their role in Africa’s growing agricultural space by building flourishing businesses and creating sustainable jobs for their communities.

From Nigeria to Ghana, Senegal to Mozambique, and Zimbabwe to South Africa, women are changing the face of agriculture, adapting and innovating to tackle the challenges of climate change, and feeding the continent’s growing population.
Our focus is on five South African women entrepreneurs in Africa’s agriculture sector who are making their mark.

Nomonde Ncongwane – founder and MD, Mvila Meat

In 2019, Nomonde Ncongwane founded Mvila Meat as an agro-processing company out of her desire, curiosity and interest in agriculture. Even though this is Nomonde’s first business to start and manage, she has been familiar with farming since childhood. She developed a passion for farming as a result of growing up in a farming environment.
Nomonde breeds chickens, cattle, and pigs at Mvila Meat. At the farm, she uses organic methods, which means she doesn’t inject hormones into any of the animals, and she feeds them soil-grown plants.

The Sibiya sisters- founders, Maliyeza Productivity Pty Ltd

The Sibiya sisters, Simamele, Siphindile, and Nandisa learned to tend a farm from their grandmother, who often included them in her vegetable garden. Growing up, the siblings dreamt of starting a business together. They explored a variety of business opportunities in pursuit of their dream. Unfortunately, none of them proved successful. When they saw an opportunity to own and run a farm business together, they took it. In their view, this was an opportunity to build a real business for themselves.

The Agri-preneur sisters started Maliyeza Productivity Pty Ltd, a farming company based out of Louwsburg, Vryheid in 2019. To begin, the Sibiya women planted sweet potatoes. As they gained experience and became more confident in themselves, they expanded to include cabbage, tomatoes, beans, and butternuts. They plant a variety of crops to reduce risks, and they also rotate their crops to benefit their soil.
While the sisters have achieved success, it hasn’t been easy. But they learned to push through.

Lizelle Koopman- founder, AgriJudah Farming Business

Lizelle Koopman, founder and owner of AgriJudah Farming Business, soon realised there are many graduates and young people who are seeking employment, but there are not enough job opportunities for them to realize their dream.

In 2021, she decided to start her own farming business so she could be gainfully employed and also employ other youths. AgriJudah Farming Business is located on a small plot of land just outside Tarental in the Limpopo Province. Lizelle currently employs two people and has seasonal casual workers who help fill in when needed.

Lizelle launched her farm on donations and small funds from her family and friends who believed in her. She plants tomatoes and okra conventionally since this is the method she learned to use. She supplies Spar Letsitele with both tomatoes and okra and sells them at the local market.

In contrast with other up-and-coming and seasonal farmers, Lizelle says her company has not yet effectively utilized social media. Her future goals include expanding her farms in the Northern Cape.

Thatho Moagi – founder, LeGae La Banareng Farms

Thatho Moagi is the winner of the 2015 award for Limpopo’s Young Farmer of the Year and the DAFF Female Entrepreneur Awards commercial category with the Ministerial Award for Youth. She has also been awarded for her active involvement as a youth in commercial production.

Moagi has also made history in December 2016 as the first South African to receive the prestigious Nuffield Agricultural Scholarship, which gave her funding to travel overseas to learn more about Integrated Beef Production Models.
Moagi’s LeGae La Banareng Farms has been able to supply local fresh produce markets such as Tshwane Fresh Produce, processing markets such as McCain Foods SA and retail markets such as Pick n Pay and Choppies.

Metsana Kojane, founder of Eden Roots PTY Ltd

Metsana Kojane, the founder of Eden Roots PTY Ltd, is putting bees at the heart of her business. Her production of natural honey has not only created local agri-processing jobs for women in her community, but also the creation of a natural skincare brand using the wax, propolis and royal jelly from her raw honey hives.

Eden Roots is an agribusiness with a presence in horticulture, beekeeping and agro-processing. The company was registered in 2015 but the business existed informally before that for 5 years. Eden Roots has 10 permanent employees and 12 seasonal employees. It also economically empowers groups of women and girls with beekeeping skills. Her company aspires to use the healing secrets of the hive to provide the world with unique natural products.

Women are central to Africa’s agricultural transformation. More African female Agri-Preneurs must be supported to grow and transition into the business segments of agricultural value chains which are most profitable. It has been proven time and time again that when African women thrive the entire society shares in those dividends.

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