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Ivor Price | 2 March 2024

Women in Farming’s next chapter focuses on empowering graduates to scale their businesses and share their skills, driving long-term impact and community transformation.

The Women in Farming programme, a pioneering initiative dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, is poised to embark on its highly anticipated third phase, setting ambitious objectives to elevate businesses and drive community impact.

Initiated by Agri SA Enterprises and funded by the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation and AgriSETA, it has garnered notable achievements in its previous phase, showcasing the resilience and success of its participants. As it enters this new chapter, the programme seeks to further amplify its transformative influence on women in the agricultural sector.

Eager to get started

Speaking to Food For Mzansi, project manager Mareli Prinsloo and project administrator Aisha Dhaler of Agri SA Enterprises confirmed that the programme has achieved significant success in its previous phases. The team is optimistic about the transformative potential of the upcoming stage.

Prinsloo highlighted the programme’s focus on business management skills for the ten winning businesses from phase two. “Phase three will mostly focus on the further development of specifically the business management skills of each of the ten winning businesses, teaching them to scale and also reinvest in their current enterprises,” she said.

Dhaler emphasised a new dimension to phase three – the women becoming sellers of their skills by offering agricultural training and development interventions to their surrounding communities. This innovative approach aims to create a ripple effect, turning each business into a driver of skills transfer, education, and change in their immediate circles of impact.

Challenges and success stories

Reflecting on lessons learned from earlier phases, Prinsloo said, “Proper communication channels, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and obtaining true buy-in and commitment from the participants are crucial for success. We’re now implementing these lessons from the start.”

Discussing the collaborative aspect, Prinsloo noted, “Thabo Olivier, the specific mentor assigned to the ladies, stood out. His motivational skills, technical expertise, and mentorship were a winning recipe for the programme’s success.”

Prinsloo furthermore highlighted partnerships in which Khanyisile Zulu and Minenhle Mbuyazi were involved by actively participating in agriculture extension services and research trials, bringing valuable expertise to the programme.

She proudly shared, “All ten of the phase one winning businesses that proceeded to phase two resulted in successful businesses after the phase two close-out, becoming self-reliant.”

Prinsloo also highlighted success stories like Zulu’s shift to broiler production, Pinky Mahaye’s expansion into irrigation services, and Xola Sibisi’s focus on community training and development.

Next up: Phase three

Dhaler unveiled the unique aspects of phase three, stating, “Farmers must be able to use the revenue they generated in the previous phases and reinvest it into their enterprise. The focus is on creating a business that can sustain itself.”

Prinsloo, a food safety expert, stressed the importance of food safety in achieving food security. “Food safety goes hand in hand with food security, not only during food processing downstream but also during primary agricultural production,” she explained.

Dhaler also discussed the strategic use of storytelling, stating, “The team is constantly requested to send pictures on a weekly basis, detailing how the funds are being used. It’s essential to tell the story of how the program is impacting these individuals and their communities.”

In closing, Prinsloo expressed gratitude to the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation and AgriSETA for funding the programme. Dhaler congratulated the participants on their progress, encouraging them to persist through phase three and make a meaningful impact in their communities.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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