Farmer Simphiwe Mnisi and her parents were driven by the need to create wealth for her children and generations to come. Building resilience has defined JGS Unathi Farming & Projects since its conception and Mnisi’s seven-year-old daughter is already involved in the business so that she can eventually take over. Mnisi told Vutivi News that she farms on a 4.5ha piece of land between KwaThema and Tsakane in Ekurhuleni.
It came into existence in 2012 after her father used his retirement package from a life-long career in the mining sector to start the business. Even though it started in 2012, the business had to stop operating on two occasions. But Mnisi said that the family’s drive to build generational wealth kept them going. “The farm started off by providing vegetables and supplying local stores and supermarkets,” she said. “However, water was very expensive, so we decided to turn to poultry farming.”
But shortly after the business started poultry farming, it had to shut down due to financial illiteracy. “One of the biggest mistakes we committed was surviving off of the profit and not saving it or keeping financial records,” the farmer said. “This affected us severely because we could not grow.” After learning many lessons, Mnisi said that they picked themselves up and restarted the business. But Covid-19 then struck, and like many businesses, they were forced to shut down.
However, as the lockdown was eased, the family started operations again. “At this time, my parents decided to hand the business over to me, and I decided to be hands-on because prior to that I had worked in the NGO sector for almost two decades,” she said. “The Department of Agriculture, Land and Rural Development assisted us by giving us 500 chickens and feeds.” The farm currently produces eggs and chickens and has a team of five employees. The business also has seven resellers, who purchase the eggs and resell them at their own prices. They supply their eggs to some Engen garages in Ekurhuleni, a local butchery called Plus Butcher, and spaza shops.
Mnisi believes that her daughter’s involvement in the business is the family’s biggest achievement because it means that they are on the path to achieving their intended goal. “Our aim is to commercialise our farm in the next 10 years, and it really warmed my heart when my daughter, Unathi, started becoming actively involved in the business by pitching in ideas and helping out with some of the manual tasks,” she said. “Although she is young, she already understands the concept of business and we have sworn to nurture that.”