By: Anna Majavu
Seven young black-owned SMMEs from the Kruger National Park area have won R180,000 to develop businesses ranging from water purification to organic skin products to solar panel installation enterprises. The SMMEs, from Sukumani Nkomazi, Lumbambiswano, Ntirhisano, and Mahlambandlompfu, within 200km of the Kruger National Park, won prizes at the South African National Parks (SANParks) “Pitch and Perfect” competition held recently.
Busisiwe Ngomane of Mangweni, who owns the crop farming business Gugu Mshika Enterprise, won the R50,000 first prize. Ngomane, 34, grows and sells cabbage, tomatoes, okra and carrots which she supplies to a public hospital and two boarding schools in the area via a government nutrition programme. Because she lacked funding, she has only ever been able to plant one of the three hectares of land that she has access to.
She told Vutivi News the prize came at just the right time. “I’m over the moon because I had trouble affording enough materials. I was also paying for borehole water to irrigate my crops which is very expensive,” Ngomane said, adding that right after she won the prize, she ordered two 10,000 litre water tanks and other equipment that would cut her farming costs down in the future.
Ngomane said the injection of funds would really help her business because there was a shortage of fresh vegetables in her area. Her vegetables sold well at informal markets and people in her community were also supportive. About 40 SMMEs qualified to enter the competition, which was open to young people aged between 21 and 34, who had been in business for two years or more and whose businesses had a turnover of at least R10,000 per month.
Each SMME pitched a business proposal to a potential funder who then advised them how to perfect the pitch. The other winners have SMMEs that purify and bottle water, farm poultry, install solar power, make organic skin care products, and two own a hair salon. Acting SANParks head of socio-economic transformation, Elizabeth Mhlongo, said the competition was part of its youth development programme. “We are mindful that we may not always have enough resources hence we collaborate with relevant partners such as the National Youth Development Agency and others to ensure that our youth benefit from the business opportunities; thereby creating the much-needed jobs”, she said. The Durban-based Hollywood Foundation supplied the prizes. The winners will also be invited to several business training workshops to help them grow their enterprises.