The animal feed industry is very difficult to break into as it is largely monopolised, according to farmer Ayanda Nzuza. The fact that she is a woman operating in the animal feed business, which is largely run by men, makes it even more grueling her, but Nzuza, who owns and operates AmaShazi Animal Feed Suppliers in Bulwer, which is just outside of Pietermaritzburg, is proud that she is successfully competing in this space.
Besides animal feed, the company also supplies animal medication and various accessories. Nzuza told Vutivi News that the business cost about R250,000 to get up and running. The funds were a mixture of her savings and a start-up loan provided to her by her aunt.
But she still works at another company as well. “I work for Smith Animal Feeds which manufactures animal feed and is also one of my suppliers and I have two employees,” she said. “I have been working for the company since 2018 in production and being exposed to the environment and learning about factors like animal nutrition and the kind of feed animals need to nurture the love for the industry.
“My aunt saw how passionate I was about opening an animal feed business, as there was no such feed-in Bulwer which needed it, and she decided to give me a start-up loan as an investment,” she explained. Nzuza said that the challenges she faced while starting her business paled in comparison to what she had to deal with now. “The industry I operate in is largely dominated by white men, and I faced a lot of stigmas because not only was I the first owner of an animal feed company in Bulwer, but I was also a woman,” she said.
Nzuza said a large animal feed company opened a branch in the area immediately after hers and made their prices cheaper. “I approached my suppliers and asked for a discount, and thankfully they were able to do that, allowing me to adjust my prices so they can be competitive as well,” she said.
“I was able to overcome that challenge because I am confident in the success of my business,” Nzuza said that by far her greatest achievement has to be able to enter the animal feeds industry, despite its monopolisation by large corporations.
“By overcoming these stigmas, I was able to prove that even women are capable of operating successfully in the animal feed sector, and my tenacity has inspired other people to overcome the challenges that they face.”