MBALI NK­ABINDE, 30, CEO OF GREEN TER­RACE

True Love - - CELEBRATING LIFE -

Mbali stud­ied for a BCom in In­dus­trial Psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg. She left her ca­reer as a re­cruiter to start Green Ter­race.

What drew you to farm­ing? A friend ad­vised me to go into agri­cul­ture be­cause he thought I would do well. I used to co-own a head­hunt­ing re­cruit­ment busi­ness. In 2016 it wasn’t do­ing well any­more and I wanted some­thing more, so by chance that’s how I got into the agri-world. What does it mean to be an agripreneur? An agripreneur com­bines their love for farm­ing and agri­cul­ture with busi­ness. We spot op­por­tu­ni­ties within the agri­cul­ture space and make a suc­cess of our ven­tures. We are to­tally com­mit­ted to chang­ing the agri­cul­tural land­scape across the value chain.

How has the jour­ney been?

I did a lot of re­search about farm­ers, how they started, what crops they fo­cussed on and the chal­lenges they faced. I reg­is­tered Green Ter­race in April 2016, then found a farm to rent on the East Rand. I signed a lease in June, and in July I planted my first crop – Swiss chard. I had such an adren­a­line rush. I love be­ing out­doors and in­ter­act­ing with na­ture, it’s hon­estly the most re­ward­ing thing I’ve done. I de­cided to plant niche crops to gain a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

What chal­lenges do you face as a black woman in agri­cul­ture?

It’s ac­cess to fund­ing. I have all the sup­port struc­tures – from seed com­pa­nies to fer­tiliser com­pa­nies and a mar­ket – but the busi­ness is in its growth phase and the in­abil­ity to se­cure fi­nance from govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions or banks is dif­fi­cult. I need money to be able to pro­cure ad­di­tional equip­ment and struc­tures that will en­able me to grow more pro­duce for my clients and em­ploy more peo­ple ul­ti­mately. I’m still a self-funded busi­ness.

What’s your ad­vice to black women who want to get into farm­ing?

Do thor­ough re­search of the type of farm­ing you want to do. Have a bud­get and learn from your fail­ures.

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