MBALI NKABINDE, 30, CEO OF GREEN TERRACE
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.