Shared farming project connects rural farmers with urban markets!
Photo Cred: Social Innovation Award

Social Innovation Award winner generates R12 million sales for rural cattle farmers!


South Africa (18 May 2020) – Two years ago, Ntuthuko Shezi won a pitch for R1,3 million funding after entering the Social Innovation Awards, run by the SAB Foundation, a beneficiary of SAB Zenzele.

His proposal was simple. By securing enough funding to purchase a truck, and put systems in place, he could bridge the geographic gap between small rural communal livestock farmers and urban markets. In doing so, the cattle farmers in historically disadvantaged areas could access the urban meat trade and monetise their subsistence farming.

The plan was not only to move cattle from A to B but also to increase their value along the way, before their retail destination. By creating Grass Beef by Livestock Wealth, Shezi set up a system that also raised the value of the livestock, using an innovative funding model so that rural farmers could ultimately earn more than they would have by selling the cattle directly.

It starts with the oxen in rural areas being collected by the company. This already crosses an initial barrier to entry, as these areas are typically underserviced by transport providers. The oxen are then brought to fully equipped farms where they are fed and nurtured to grow for six months, using collective funding. This shared farming service creates healthy livestock, which leads to healthy beef. This free-range, grass-fed, hormone-free beef is now stocked by major retailers including Woolworths.

“For rural farmers, this brings the market to their doorstep. There are no transport fees, or the uncertainties of auctions, which are often tipped against the farmer” explains Shezi.

The project has also created jobs for the herdsmen who work on these farms.

The farmers that have been part of the project have also gone on to expand their income bases.

“Some have bought tractors. Others have diversified their farms into other areas of production such as short term crops so that they can have cashflow throughout the course of the year. The money flowing from this project is enabling these farmers to educate their children and improve their standard of living” adds Shezi.

Attempting to assess the impact of the project to date, “I estimate approximately R 12 million has already been channelled to rural farmers, from whom we have bought cattle so far. This has benefitted almost 200 farmers and 42 partner farms” he added.

“Our next venture will be to expand this scheme beyond retail chains to direct home delivery for people who want premium healthy beef” concluded Shezi.

It seems the sky is the limit for this innovative entrepreneur, who benefited from the funding made available by the SAB Foundation. The SAB Foundation was a beneficiary of the ten year long SAB Zenzele share scheme, the biggest B-BBEE FMCG scheme in South Africa’s history. SAB Zenzele wound down in April 2020, paying out approximately R8,5 billion, having generated almost R14 billion wealth and ownership opportunities in the country.

Sources: Social Innovation Award 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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