By: Tebogo Mokwena
One is never too old to become an entrepreneur, and at age 60, Joe Faber has proven how true those words are. With over three decades in different fields of engineering, Faber has decided to venture into the agriculture sector. His business, ProServe Projects which is based in Cape Town, is a business that is looking to make a difference. It specialises in modular construction, prefab cold rooms, warehouses, polytunnels and greenhouses.
Faber told Vutivi News that he designed systems for optimal operational efficiency, which were made to last for over 25 years. “Besides engineering, designing and supplying of the project, we also focus on training and education with regards to the operation of our systems,” he said. “Currently we build for small-scale farmers, and our aim is to expand to include larger operations.”
Faber said that he had chosen to work with small-scale farmers for various reasons. “I believe that people need to get into sustainable living, and learn how to grow their own vegetables,” he said. “In designing for subsistence farmers, I’ve learned that a lot of young, black entrepreneurs want to start commercial farming, but they either have land and have no access to finance, or they don’t have either,” the entrepreneur said.
He also saw how difficult it is for subsistence farmers to get funding from the government. “The government and banks do not accept their lease agreements when they apply for funding, and this makes it difficult for small-scale farmers to break into the sector,” he pointed out. “It’s frustrating because much of the world’s agricultural land is in Africa, and we need to give opportunities to small-scale farmers so that they can become the next generation of farmers.
“One of the most difficult things in this sector is that as a new person, it is difficult to win big contracts because established businesses choose to give their business to companies they have worked with for decades,” he said. “That’s why I believe that starting with subsistence farmers will also give me the opportunity to be able to forge relationships like this of my own. I truly believe that subsistence farming will be the future that breeds more successful commercial farmers.”
Faber plans on imparting his skills to budding entrepreneurs and teaching others how to build farming systems of their own. “I also want to establish myself as one of the top installers of greenhouses in the sector, and work mostly with subsistence farmers,” he told Vutivi News.