In the space of a year, Phathutshedzo Madula started a farm and an agro-processing business in Limpopo that produces vegetables and chilli that is known across the country. And the intrepid entrepreneur has no intention of stopping there. He believes that his latest business, Marvel Chilli Sauce, is not his most successful yet.
The sauce is produced by vegetables from his farm and processed by his agro-processing company. Madula told Vutivi News he was proud that he had developed his products on his own after obtaining the knowledge while he was unemployed.
“By profession, I am an electrical engineer, but I struggled to get an internship. For four years I was unemployed, and at that time my grandmother used to farm in her backyard during the rainy seasons, so I learned the basics from her,” he said.
“I then decided to go to other farms in the area to learn more about farming. I started by planting tomatoes, bell peppers and cabbages,” he said. Due Madula’s initial lack of knowledge, he had trouble accessing the market. But through perseverance and learning the game, his business has expanded.
He also overcame the expenses of marketing through social media and other platforms. “I learned to persevere. I learned that in life there are no shortcuts. We must go through the difficulties with our heads held high.” He first started with vegetable atchaar. When he began producing sun-dried cabbage, that was when Madula said he “fell in love” with agro-processing.
Not only does he produce chilli sauce and vegetable atchaar, but he also provides fruit jam, tomato jam and sun-dried products such as cabbage and bell peppers. “With the sun-dried cabbage, they are cooked and dried by the sun and then cooked with some ingredients for the unique taste,” the entrepreneur explained.
Madula said going into agro-processing was an easy decision as there was a gap in the market. “Our company sustains the products even in the absence of a market. For example, if a farmer produces tomatoes and some of them get spoiled, I buy them from the farmer because I believe no product has to be thrown away.
“The same applies for cabbages and the fruit, which I then use for my fruit jams,” he said. His products are sold in Limpopo and are couriered across the country. On being an entrepreneur, Madula told Vutivi News that like many, he needed to be creative.
He also called on South Africans to buy local.
“People are innovative and when we believe in them and see their products on shelves, we can as black entrepreneurs achieve what we aim to achieve,” he said. “There are people making juice, cosmetics and cleaning products, but we do not believe in them or in their products”.