SA: Funding project plays vital role in farmer’s success

Award-winning Mthatha farmer says funding from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) opened doors for Mthatha Airport Agricultural Services (MAAS). Fezeka Mkile says the R1, 6m funding MAAS got from ECDC was required to secure grant funding from European Union local economic development arm, Thina Sinako.

Mkile is project manager at MAAS which comprises of Ncise Community Trust and NSM Services, an agricultural service provider business she owns with her father Peter. The turnkey project, due to be launched in March, has created 21 jobs since March 2010, with 18 employees from the local community. An additional 30 people were employed during the 18 month construction phase.She won first prize for social innovation in the South African Breweries (SAB) entrepreneurship awards in October 2011. This is in addition to her first runner up female entrepreneur prize of R1, 6m worth of implements from Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform. Mkile says ECDC sowed the seeds that propelled the business to success. “We could not have been in a position to enter those competitions without the funding from ECDC. It helped us get all the equipment and facilities we needed to get the business off the ground,” says Mkile.ECDC secured Thina Sinako funding

The business was due to get 70% of its total budget requirement of R6,7m from Thina Sinako, subject to the entrepreneurs’ contribution of 30% towards the capital requirement. But the family’s dream was threatened when its contribution could not meet its end of the deal, which was just over R2m. “We managed to pay R470,000 of the 30%, which had to be strictly cash contribution with the help of AsgiSA Eastern Cape. The rest could be in kind, but when the equipment and material we had was assessed it was found inadequate,” Mkile says. “ECDC came to our rescue with funding, which helped us secure the Thina Sinako funding.”

ECDC project development coordinator Bowell Solwandle says the development finance institution provided financing to the tune of R1, 6 million. An amount of R80 000 has been approved to extent the existing business plan. “The financing was for two green houses, each with capacity to hold 8 200 seedlings. A board, two offices, a shed with a cold room, pack house, pump house, a reservoir that takes 65 000 litres were built,” says Solwandle.

The community reaps the benefits of the project, a factor which has earned Mkile an SAB social innovation prize worth R100 000. The project distributes at the Kei Fresh Produce and Spar outlets in the area and set to grow the demand for its produce exceeds the current supply. “We also supply the local Wimpy and Nando’s outlets. We still can’t meet demand because the market is big,” Mkile says.

Source: Biz Community.Com – 27 Feb 2012