Wanga Edgar PholiFarming (Crop) Enterprise

Favorite quote:Work until expensive become cheap!” and “Young, Ready and Hungry!

What is your story (tell us about you)?
Born and bred in Khomele Village, an under-developed and unrecognized area where agriculture and farming are mainly practiced as sources of living. I come from a family of six, and me being the only male child doing all hard work duties like herding, gardening and sometimes working at the field/farm with my late grandfather. Thus, I developed passion based on my family background of farming and upbringing. During my high school period, I also took Agricultural sciences as one of my major subjects, hence I decided to pursue my studies in Agricultural Economics (BSc) at the University of Limpopo. After completion of my degree, I was given an opportunity at the Land and Development Bank of South Africa
(Landbank) as a Junior Researcher for both Agriculture and Economics analysis to guide the bank on which sectors to invest in. While at Land Bank, I got an opportunity to pursue my master’s degree in University College Dublin (Ireland) where I majored in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development. When I completed my studies, I came back to South Africa and decided to work the land. I produced several crops such as Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Okra, Butternut, Cabbage, and Spinach. I took most of my products to Joburg Fresh Produce and Rhodes Food Group. I also ventured into macadamia farming and I am now a registered member of the South African Macadamia Association. I am currently working as a programme coordinator for Agriculture at Seriti Institute which is more into community development.

When did you start your business and what inspired you to start?
I registered my business in early 2018, however, it started to fully operate in 2020. I wanted to pursue my passion, to make agriculture fashionable, ensure food security within my community while creating jobs for willing and able individuals. At the same time, it was a source of income.

What are the Key Objective(s) and Vision of your business?
– To be the best and well-known supplier of cash crops provincial and nationally.
– Create sustainable jobs within my community.
– Ensure food security.
– To create sustainable off-take agreements with several formal and informal markets.
– To main healthy cashflow and have yearly robust turnovers.

What challenges did you face? What is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome (are still overcoming)?
In the beginning, the business faced challenges of securing local markets and funding. Fluctuating agricultural prices and natural disasters are still the major challenges in the farming space. The unfortunate part, it is beyond our control as most of the farmers are price takers and we have no control over nature.

How did you learn about your market?
I did research and network with relevant individuals and stakeholders at the right time. Networking is vital in breaking market barriers.

How do you go about networking and building partnerships?
I make sure that I sell my business everywhere I go, my circle is full of farmers. Thus, it is easy for me to market my products and to create robust networking. Networking means you need to be open to learning since we learn every day in the farming space. I build solid partnerships by supplying quality products to my reliable customers and by understanding the nature of their business. In this case, I deliver in time and offer discounts if need be.

Do you have (or ever had) a mentor in your journey, and do you believe it helped?
Yes, I have mentors, both commercial farmers, and small-scale farmers. It is important to have one in the farming segment for speedy guidance during rainy days. Mentors are very important when you are purchasing farming inputs and equipment. They are also important to advise what and when to plant-based on their experiences and previous planting patterns. They also guide in terms of funding and markets. In a nutshell, every businessperson needs a mentor.

What is your perspective on the South African entrepreneurial landscape?
Most people are doing business because they are not finding their dream job. However, a successful business is built from passion. Entry and process of becoming an entrepreneur are very biased and difficult, hence few businesses are prospering.

I will give example with my attitude to farming – I treat farming like an office job, and I treat every crop as a human being…… a crop needs to eat, watered, dressed, and cleaned. When I see crops, all I see is money!

This should apply to an entrepreneur if we want to have more business people in our country.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
They should knock on every possible door if they want to be successful. Everywhere they go, they should sell their business and make as many as relevant networking as possible. The last thing, passion is key!

In your opinion, what are the secrets to successful entrepreneurship?
– Excellent financial and time management.
– Have short-term and long-term goals for your business.
– Innovative and hardworking
–  Love what you do and have a clear understanding of what your business is all about