All4Women Entrepreneurs is a monthly feature where we put the spotlight on amazing female entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Africa. This month we spoke to Mbali Nwoko (who started farming business, Green Terrace) to find out what shouldn’t stand in the way of your farming dream.
There is a growing interest in farming and food production, but many young people are deterred by difficulties that they expect are part and parcel of the agricultural industry.
Having jumped all in, Mbali Nwoko, CEF (which stands for Chief Executive Farmer, of course) at Green Terrace, says that although the fears many prospective farmers have are valid, they can be overcome. She busts three common myths that people believe about starting their own farm.
Myth 1: You can’t afford to buy farmland
One of the biggest challenges emerging farmers face is a lack of funding. For many prospective farmers, this means that they can’t afford to buy the land they need to farm on; this could pre-maturely put an end to their dream of farming.
“When I started planning Green Terrace, I understood the reality faced by many farmers; funding is very hard to come by. I approached this the way most people approach the issue of not being able to afford to buy a home: we rent,” Mbali says.
Renting is a simple solution to farming when you can’t afford to buy a farm. It allows you to pay a manageable amount monthly, while you build your farm and start earning money from your produce.
Myth 2: You can’t farm if you haven’t studied agriculture
The first step to following a career path is usually getting some sort of qualification. Your qualification tells the people around you that you know what you’re doing, but when it comes to farming, Mbali says that actual knowledge and experience are worth more than a qualification.
Mbali has made a success of her farm without a formal qualification in agriculture, but she says research and learning from her fellow farmers is very important.
“If you’d like to study agriculture and can do it, then that is great. But if you can’t study. it shouldn’t stop you from farming. The internet and the farming community are great resources. We share information, methods, technology and products. This practical knowledge has been invaluable to me,” she says.
Myth 3: You won’t be successful if you don’t have farming connections
Starting any business can be frightening. The farming community can be especially daunting because it seems like such a closed community. Prospective farmers may be hesitant about breaking into markets, which can be difficult if you don’t know anyone in your industry, being isolated and not being able to access information.
Mbali says that attending industry events and joining online communities is a great way to get to know people and access information.
“The farming community is actually really open. I’ve learned a lot from experienced farmers I meet at expos and events. You don’t wait to be invited into a community – you just immerse yourself in it. I read the magazines, I attend events and I read up on all the information I can find. The first step in most things, including finding a market for your product, is introducing yourself,” explains Mbali.
Read more of the stories in our All4Women Entrepreneurs series:
- The Lazy Makoti’s guide to finding your spot in the market
- 3 things small business owners should look for in an employee
- How Liz Senior built a 65-franchise business from her backyard
- 5 things to consider when turning your small business into a franchise
- How Ubuntu Baba’s Shannon McLaughlin took on big business and won
- 5 secrets to becoming a successful mom-preneur from Ubuntu Baba’s founder