Africa should set its sights on feeding the world – Sola David-Borha, CEO Standard Bank Group (Africa)

Sola David-Borha is the Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank. In this article, she shares her insights on opportunities in the Agriculture industry.

Motherland Moguls, you don’t want to miss out on this one.

Africa needs to make more food

With the world population expected to swell by 2 billion people over the next three decades, Africa has an opportunity to step up and become a major global food production hub.

For the time being, Africa remains a net importer of food, despite its vast tracts of underutilized land and other enviable natural resources. Its reliance on food imports weighs on the continent’s current account and spells a missed economic opportunity.

Source: Unctad, Rabobank
With the right policies, technologies, and infrastructure in place, Africa has the potential to first meet its own food requirements, and then exceed them – Sola David-Borha, CEO Standard Bank Group (Africa) Click To Tweet

The agricultural sector is possibly the continent’s biggest growth lever, with a sizeable potential for much-needed job creation. This is especially poignant considering that Africa is estimated to hold about 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Of the land that is cultivated, yields remain extremely low and irrigation techniques dated.

Agribusiness is the next big hustle

The adoption of modern and innovative farming practices could spur a step-change in the output of existing and new farmlands. The Netherlands, a country that is roughly 3.4% the size of South Africa by land area, provides a good example – being the world’s second-largest exporter of food by value, despite its size, thanks to high yields.

Meanwhile, Brazil shows that it is possible for an emerging market to shift from a net importer of food to a net exporter. The South American country did so through trade liberalization and investments in agricultural research, among other initiatives.

Africa is still only scratching the surface of its potential in the agribusiness game – Sola David-Borha, CEO Standard Bank Group (Africa) Click To Tweet

To shift the industry onto a new trajectory, a combined effort between policymakers, financial services firms and the industry itself will be needed.

What you should be thinking about

Financial services should consider how they can facilitate the sector’s growth by providing sustainable finance solutions across the agriculture value chain.

Investments in areas such as logistics, renewable energy, warehousing, and other storage facilities, agro-processing plants, and irrigation technologies will be crucial, as will public investments in road and rail infrastructure as well as ports.

Access to markets is also an important focus area, and measures to tackle this issue will boost the entire agricultural value chain.

Policymakers can play their part by creating an enabling investment environment, as countries such as Kenya have done.

To align policies across the continent, governments should consider existing frameworks. Regulations should be aimed at striking a balance between economic growth and safeguarding Africa’s natural environment.

Encouragingly, the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will lower tariffs and promote intra-African trade in agriculture, making the continent less reliant on food imports from other regions. And through cross-border initiatives, Africa could strengthen its food export prospects.

Standard Bank is funding African Agribusinesses

African states and farming groups would also do well to adopt ‘smart farming’ concepts. Standard Bank, for instance, in partnership with technology companies, has piloted projects that use drones to monitor the health of crops, and digital technologies to monitor and regulate soil moisture in order to save water by avoiding unnecessary irrigation.

Standard Bank is also working with development finance institutions and export agencies to develop sustainable finance solutions specifically for the sector. We are funding projects that allow small-scale farmers to transform themselves into contractors that supply commercial farmers.

An opportunity for African Women

Climate change poses a serious risk to Africa’s food security – and the world’s. The effects are already being felt – Tropical Cyclone Idai caused unprecedented damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi less than a year ago, while catastrophic droughts and flooding have affected South Africa and East Africa, among other regions. Currently, the devastating locust invasion in East Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia specifically – is threatening food security in the region.

Considering that agriculture already accounts for a large portion of Africa’s GDP, the impact of climate change on the economy can be severe.

Another risk is that the expansion of Africa’s agricultural sector will place more strain on the continent’s water resources, which need to be carefully managed. The adoption of advanced irrigation techniques is a good start.

Standard Bank recently partnered with the United Nations (UN) Women on a project aimed at developing climate-smart farming techniques amongst rural women. The initiative is being rolled out in Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, and Nigeria.

While the sector’s future is not without its risks, it may well be Africa’s biggest opportunity in the coming decades. Being a major contributor to GDP and employment, the agribusiness sector is the continent’s most effective lever for achieving inclusive growth.

About Standard Bank Group

Standard Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets with a unique footprint across 20 African countries. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, we are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with share code SBK, and the Namibian Stock Exchange, share code SNB.  

Standard Bank has a 156-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise outside southern Africa in the early 1990s. 

Our strategic position, which enables us to connect Africa to other select emerging markets as well as pools of capital in developed markets, and our balanced portfolio of businesses, provide significant opportunities for growth.  

The group has over 53 000 employees, approximately 1 200 branches and over 9 000 ATMs on the African continent, which enable it to deliver a complete range of services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management.  

Headline earnings for 2018 were R27.9 billion (about USD2.1 billion) and total assets were R2.1 trillion (about USD148 billion). Standard Bank’s market capitalisation at 31 December 2018 was R289 billion (USD20 billion). 

The group’s largest shareholder is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank, with a 20,1% shareholding. In addition, Standard Bank Group and ICBC share a strategic partnership that facilitates trade and deal flow between Africa, China and select emerging markets. 

For further information, go to  


JOY PHALA: On switching careers and starting afresh

“One gets to a point where you feel as though the work you do is not fulfilling. When one dreads getting out of bed to go to work, you pretty much know something needs to change!”

After years of being a Management Consultant with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Joy Phala left the security of her job to venture into what captivated and excited her, in a whole new industry.

She switched careers from management consultancy to landscape design and growing fresh produce. She is now a landscape designer and founder of Organic Kitchen Gardens.

We got into her psyche and asked her for some pointers on starting afresh.

 Tell us about Organic Kitchen Gardens and what you do for your clients.

Organic Kitchen Gardens is an edible landscape design company for chefs, restaurants, and private residents through a design, installation and maintenance process. We create organic edible exterior spaces that reflect our client’s style and personal aesthetic.

The concept came about as a result of wanting to create edible gardens that would fit into the urban and suburban environment without the typical farm look associated with fruit and vegetable gardening. Gardens that would reflect sustainable food production while demonstrating good landscape design.


How did you know it was the right time to switch careers and how can one be sure of when to take such a bold step?

For me, it was more a case of circumstances forcing me to take a particular direction in life more than it was timing.  But if I was to generalize, I believe one gets to a point where you feel as though the work you do is not fulfilling. When one dreads getting out of bed to go to work, you pretty much know something needs to change.

There’s no surety when it comes to making a change. The biggest risk is that it might not work, and that’s ok because it leaves room for one to gain a deeper understanding of who they are and where their creative genius lies.

It’s ok to be completely terrified because so is everyone else who starts out on the road less traveled. Click To Tweet

What advice do you have for those who want to switch careers, perhaps to a completely different industry too, but are too intimidated? 

It’s ok to be completely terrified because so is everyone else who starts out on the road less traveled. The realization that doing work that matters to me is more important than the fear that I’ll fail is what keeps me going.

The only way to know that your venture will work is how the market responds to it. So I literally just started... Click To Tweet


What steps did you take to prepare for entering a new industry and being successful in your new venture?

It’s a great idea to understand the legal framework that governs the industry one is embarking on. It’s also a good idea to understand the existing market, the possible competition, and how the industry works, as long as we don’t use this preparation as a reason to hide from doing the work we know we are capable of doing.

The nice thing about being an entrepreneur is that you just start. No one other than the marketplace has to qualify or validate your venture.  I was one of those that did not get their ducks in a row before introducing my service to the market.

The only way to know that your venture will work is how the market responds to it. So I literally just started.  I did not learn about the industry while sitting on the sidelines preparing to get in, I learned while on the job and discovered there’s so much more to learn still. Also, I took informal courses and studied Landscape Design.

I want to remind Africans that we were practising organics before pre-colonialism days and way before Organic became a trend... Click To Tweet


What is your vision for Organic Kitchen Gardens? Do you see yourself changing the landscape of agriculture in the rest of Africa in the years to come?

I want to create exterior outdoor spaces that people love to eat from, but also enjoy living in, outdoor spaces influenced by design and the lifestyles my clients lead

I want to also remind Africans that we were practicing organics before pre-colonialism days and way before Organic became a trend and we need to pick up where our ancestors left off and take center stage when it comes to issues of sustainability, biodiversity, and organic land care.

There’s no surety when it comes to making a change. The biggest risk is that it might not work, and that’s ok... Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about ‘Grow Organic’, your organic gardening course. What does it offer students?

Grow Organic is a three-part course consisting of a fundamentals level, an Intermediary level, and an Advance level course.

The aim is to educate delegates on how they can create their own edible oasis with organically grown vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs in an urban setting while supporting the development and success of the ecological environment around them. For now, the classes are conducted through a face-to-face interaction.

You have two lovely boys; what is your fondest, and perhaps funniest memory to date of you, them and getting your hands dirty in your home garden?

My boys are always experimenting with tasting leaves of herbs and edible flowers. My fondest memory is when I had asked them to pick and taste the flowers of Pineapple Sage Herb. It was the first time they had these edible flowers and they exclaimed, “Mommy, it tastes like sweeties!”

I remember thinking how honored I am to be sharing this part of my life with them. Hopefully, they’ll pass it on to their children and children’s children.

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Mavis Zaina: Slaying From accounting to agriculture

Mavis Zaina is a chartered accountant with over 8 years’ experience in strategic management, accounting and finance.

But beyond her accountancy, Mavis is passionate about the agricultural value chain and its potentially high impact reach for poverty alleviation and development. Driven by this passion, Mavis founded Kanjadza Acres.

Kanjadza Acres is an agricultural enterprise that grows fruits and vegetables together with employing 10 locals. Mavis’ overall aim is to become a world-class entity participating in the end to end agricultural value chain. Through this, she hopes to create jobs and wealth for her community and eventually Africa.

What made you desire to start a business in agriculture?

I have always been fascinated by the agricultural value and the impact and change it has on an economy and its people. Specifically, I decided to focus on horticulture because of its high productivity and value.

With this passion, I launched my agribusiness journey. It has been quite exciting as the margins made are good and the products are often demanded and used daily in my community.

How friendly is the Malawian business environment to young female horticulturists? 

I think the business environment is challenging. The value chain is highly informal so the hustle is real to find market information that drives production and this results in unpredictability.

You have to be as strategic as possible and also very resilient and tough. Males dominate marketing and supply and many assume that as a young female, you are naive and vulnerable.

I once harvested a lot of cassava, and cassava must be sold or processed the very day it’s harvested or it changes colour and customers shun it. I went to the market once I was done the harvesting. Knowing it was my first time, buyers undermined me and started changing the agreed prices.

Refusing to bow down, I took a chance and went to offload at a new market. My risk paid off as I was able to sell all the cassavas. Although, since I stayed much later, I had to hire security as thieving gangs often disrupt women-led businesses. This is price men don’t have to pay.

My biggest mistake was doing too much too soon. I tried to build Rome in a day and lost money and time Click To Tweet


How can the business environment be improved for young entrepreneurs?

For the business environment to improve, we need clear and functioning value chains and infrastructure.  I also believe in mentorship and so having agribusiness incubators and accelerators is key.

These two accompanied by financing options would really do wonders for the environment.

Has collaborating worked for you? And why do you think it’s important for women?

I love collaborating because synergies created through collaboration can be very transformative. But just like any worthwhile relationship, it requires a good amount of work to find good collaborative partners, not just because we are in the same field, or because we are friends.

Collaboration should be done objectively and soberly. Otherwise, most end up in turmoil and discord.


Are they any women that have helped you in your journey?

I look up to many women in my life. My mother, for example, has provided me with the drive, determination and support system to be able to pursue my dreams. Another woman who supported me is Ngaba Chatata.

As a fellow farmer, Ngaba has advised me on horticultural production. It was after I visited her farm that I realized she was living the life I wanted. This challenged me to go an start my own business.

Overall, the women in my life have motivated me and provided me with a support system that has kept me going. They keep reminding me that with diligence and focus I will be successful.

What mistakes did you make in business and how can other women avoid that?

I made and still make lots of mistakes. They make me grow and redirect me. So first, realise that mistakes can be lessons.

My biggest mistake was doing too much too soon. I tried to build Rome in a day and lost money and time. So learning to be patient and work one step at a time is one great lesson to learn.

Secondly, it is important to draw up a plan, do research and map your journey. Although plans change, having one will grant you focus and purpose. With this, you will also be able to track progress.

Lastly, stay in your lane. Do not compare yourself to others. Journeys differ and comparison has a way of killing off your motivation and making you ungrateful.

Work on your hustle and keep your eyes ahead. - Mavis-Zaina Kanjadza Click To Tweet


Any final words to our Motherland moguls?

Find out what you want to do and do it. Know your purpose and pursue it militantly. You can do anything but only with clarity of purpose and hard work.

Investment Opportunities in Nigeria: The Top 4 sectors

The past year has been one of economic progress for Nigeria, with Africa’s largest economy managing to crawl back into growth territory in the second quarter of 2017.

The Nigerian government has realized that they need to make the country as attractive and lucrative as possible for offshore investors to bring their capital, skills and business trade into the country.

The need to develop the Nigerian economy offers lucrative potential returns Click To Tweet

One way is to provide tax holidays to “pioneer companies,” who are engaged in the production of export goods, establishing new industries, or expanding production in vital sectors of the economy.

Pioneer companies that are eligible under the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act can enjoy an income “tax holiday” for a period of up to five years. In addition, pioneer companies enjoy other benefits such as the exemption from withholding tax on dividends paid out of pioneer profits.

Here’s a look at investment opportunities to consider:



Nigeria’s population is an estimated 186 million people. This population suggests a massive potential workforce as well as a consumer base. For a manufacturer this is an ideal scenario, not only do you have potential customers, but you also have potential employees.

The Nigerian government is eager to expand the manufacturing capability in the country, and to that end, they are offering incentives for manufacturers that are able to locally source their raw materials, for example, agro-allied manufacturers processing foodstuffs such as fruit juices and vegetable oils.

Any manufacturing industry that provides multiplier effect solutions for the economy is also looked upon favorably. An example of this would be machine tools, flat sheet metal, and spare parts manufacturing.

Finally, any investment in research institutes, especially those that focus on adaptive research and commercialization of local inventions, is looked upon favorably by the Nigerian government.

An organization that has seen the potential in Nigeria is US-based software trainer @Andela Click To Tweet



Nigeria is one of the fastest growing internet users in the world. According to Statista, a global statistics company, there are approximately 76.2 million Nigerian internet users as of 2017. This is an increase of nearly 50 percent from the 2013 figure of 51.8 million.

There are millions of Nigerians who are interested in involving themselves in Information Communications and Technology Services (ICTS).

This new economy does not require someone to be in a specific location to provide the service needed, rather they can be located anywhere in the world.


An organization that has seen the potential in Nigeria is US-based software trainer – Andela. The company offers learning programmes for young adults who are wanting to become computer programmers.

Nigeria is one of the fastest growing internet users in the world Click To Tweet

The learning programme is a 2-year practical course where the learner interacts with companies around the world and assists them in building programmes, websites, and mobile applications.

After the conclusion of the programme, the learner is able to provide remote programming support to companies that they have built a relationship with.

By tapping into the underdeveloped skills of the Nigerian youth, there are countless opportunities for new economy companies to develop technology leaders of the future in Nigeria and in the rest of Africa.

The Nigerian government has set up incentives to help modernize and mechanize their agricultural industry Click To Tweet



Nearly one-third of all employed Nigerians find themselves working in the agricultural sector, which is one of the country’s main foreign exchange earners.

The Nigerian government has set up incentives to help modernize and mechanize their agricultural industry. Not only will locally grown foodstuffs be promoted on behalf of the investor, business and enabling companies may receive the pioneer company status and qualify for tax incentives.

Subsidies on fertilizer and zero import duties on raw materials needed to manufacture livestock feed are some of the other incentives to attract investors to this sector.

Another is the release of grants from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council for research and development that leads to the greater domestic use of Nigeria’s raw materials.



The need for skilled tradespersons, computer programmers, and agricultural workers will only increase in demand as Nigeria transforms its economy and becomes an international economic power.

At present, there is an opportunity for private education to offer specific programmes that are in demand in the country. Nigeria is a country with vast underemployment and by offering distance learning or night schools, there is potential for strong investment returns in for-profit education.

As an example, one can look at the success of Curro in South Africa, which began as a private for-profit primary and secondary schools but now even has a post-secondary offering. If a Nigerian model were created that focused on skills development, the potential returns could be very lucrative.

Nigeria is in the fortunate position to offer investment opportunities to both local and international persons and companies. The need to develop the Nigerian economy offers lucrative potential returns for those looking to invest in the above sectors, including manufacturing and private education.

These areas are in some ways interconnected, and by increasing the investment and development in one area, there is tremendous potential for spillover into the other, sectors.



Food security: How Cassava is Positively Impacting Smallholder Farmers in Mozambique

Judging by its brown bottle packaging, Mozambique’s Impala beer looks just like any other beer on the market. Not until you have smelt it, will you realize it has an unmistakably mysterious taste to it.

Although it is brewed like a typical beer, Impala is made from cassava, a root vegetable that grows in tropical areas.

DADTCO has partnered with one of the world’s largest breweries, to create cassava beer Click To Tweet

There’s a quiet cassava revolution in Africa. Organizations and government are realizing the plant’s impact on empowering smallholder farmers in Mozambique and developing rural communities.

Mozambique is among the key players at the forefront of the growing buzz around cassava, having found a way to farm and process the plant on a large scale.

At the heart of this development is the Dutch Agriculture Development and Trading Company (DADTCO). The company has developed a mobile processing factory that is able to process the crop into cake and starch flour.

DADTCO’s invention has changed the perception around cassava and the way the crop is grown and processed.  It has also helped empower smallholder farmers in Mozambique, whom the company buys cassava from.

This breakthrough technology, they say, “bridges the gap between smallholder farmers and large food companies.”

The market for cassava is on the rise, as more uses for the crop are being discovered Click To Tweet

With the company sourcing the starchy root from more than 7,000 smallholder farmers, DADTCO’s innovation is enhancing food security in Mozambique, while also creating far-reaching job opportunities for rural farmers.

Better revenue streams are created and tens of thousands of dollars per month are injected into the local economy.

At the beginning of the initiative, farmers in Mozambique used to sell an average of 1.5 tonnes of cassava roots per year, but now the number has more than tripled.

This indicates the benefits of a steady market for those who grow the tropical plant. Before the initiative, cassava was nothing more than a subsistence crop for many smallholder farmers.

But now, with rising profits, it has turned into a cash crop.

With rising profits, cassava has turned into a cash crop. Click To Tweet

With cassava being the second-most consumed source of carbohydrates after maize in sub-Saharan Africa, it was the time the crop was commercialized.

Due to it being a highly perishable product, commercializing it has always been tricky – until now.

The root vegetable has a high water content and needs to be processed within 48 hours after harvesting.

To solve this problem, DADTCO’s mobile factories process fresh cassava on the farm or nearby in the village, eliminating the costly need to transport it over long distances.

Now, farmers only have to harvest their cassava when the Autonomous Mobile Processing Unit arrives. Once fully processed, the cassava starchy meal can last up to six months.

The market for cassava is on the rise as more uses for the crop are being discovered. In Mozambique and Ghana, DADTCO has partnered with one of the world’s largest breweries, to create cassava beer.

This has replaced the popular ingredient, malted barley with cassava cake. The plant can also be processed into ethanol biofuel, syrup as well as flour for bread.

“Substituting expensive imports with local cassava products like wheat flour has the potential to create a stable income for millions of farmers in SSA,” says DADTCO.



Nkwah Azinwi Ngum: Our food choices are very important for a healthier life

Nkwah Azinwi Ngum has an MSc in Rural Economics and Agri-Food from the University of Yaoundé II Soa, Cameroon. She is a Cameroon Human Rights Fellow and a Cameroon Women’s Scholarship fellow. She was trained by the Israel’s Agency for International Development Corporation – MASHAV- under a course ‘Agribusiness, a tool for the empowerment of rural women’ in Israel.

Currently she serves as the Coordinator of the Cameroon Women’s Scholarship Alumni Association. She is also one of the World Council of Churches youth ambassadors in Africa; and has completed an Eco-school course on Water, Food and Climate Justice in Malawi. 

 She recently founded an organisation “Save The Future”, which aims to empower communities and young people to overcome development challenges. The organisations primary focus  is to equip young people with the necessary sustainable agriculture skills, as a means to curb  poverty and food insecurity.


People should be able to economically afford the food necessary to maintain their well-being Click To Tweet

Nkwah Azinwi Ngum


Nkwah, to what extent is food security guaranteed, if one is growing their own crops?

We need to know the basic definition of food security before we can clearly understand this question.

Food security in its most basic definition means: ensuring that everyone can access the amount of healthy, nutritious foods they need to live. However it also indicates that people should be able to economically afford the food necessary to maintain their well-being.

Growing your own food is one way you can make sure your family always has an ample supply of fruits and vegetables and other food crops. We should note that growing your own food does not necessarily mean you are food secure. But, it reduces the resources you would spend on say, vegetables, and these resources could be channeled to other food crops that cannot be grown in the garden, hence contributing to food security.


You have been raising awareness of food security on social media, how has this been received by your target audience?

Using social media to raise awareness on the dangers of food insecurity and how we can cope or avoid the situation has been a little challenging. People still do not see this a challenge, but it is a situation whose consequences have triple effects – individual, family and economy.

Notwithstanding challenges, from the reactions I have received, attitudes are changing; many people are beginning to gain interest in the subject and are trying to curb the situation by growing their own food.

I will also like to note that, aside from social media, I am educating children in orphanages and schools on sustainable food. For the past four months, I, together with my friend, Ndeby Jarreth Therese (Co-Founder of Save The Future),  have been able to reach about 200, 9-17 year old young people.

From time to time, we call back to check the progress they are making in maintaining the gardens and also whether their feeding habits are changing. We are also hoping to increase the beneficiaries of this project to 2000 by the end of this year.


Children who grow their own food may have increased preference for vegetables. Click To Tweet


Nkwah Azinwi Ngum


What’s your advice on how we can actually convince our kids to have healthy eating habits?

Kids are more open to learning new cultures and attitudes than adults. One trick is introducing these veggies in their diet, whether frozen or dried, and  being diverse in the colors (use different colors so that they can find the food attractive).

Alternatively, we can get kids to eat healthily by letting them assist in growing the food they eat. Create a home garden (no matter the size) and let your kids help out in the garden. Let them grow their favorite vegetables. During which time, you can teach them the benefits of veggies and fruits. Research has shown that children who grow their own food may have increased preference for vegetables.

Aside from home, pre-schools and primary schools can also contribute in grooming kids in healthy nutrition by using school gardens. Kids interact and learn from their peers. Therefore, school is one of the main social contexts where agricultural and food related practices, attitudes and other skills can be developed and shaped.

What are some of the healthiest foods that you recommend us to take daily?

Our food choices are very important for a healthy life. For a balanced diet we need to eat fruits and vegetables, protein, grain products and dairy foods. However, we need to know which food is vital on a daily basis and which are not.

I would recommend fruits and veggies as the healthiest food for our daily consumption. We have to encourage and inculcate the habit of eating fruits and vegetables daily. One way of doing this is by growing our own veggies like okra, lettuce, amaranth, cucumber etc.


You are also encouraging entrepreneurial skills so that people can produce more and sell excess. When one has taken farming to the business level is there anything they have to do differently?

Many people see farming as a way of life, but today the concept is changing, especially among young people.

If we want to consider our farming as a business; we need to treat it like another business venture. We need to carry out feasibility studies on the different stakeholders already involved in this line of business and create a business plan.

However, for the young people I am working with, the basic idea is to introduce them into the world of entrepreneurship and the methods of how they can develop interest in agriculture.


Using fertilizers is not a bad idea, but the problem is how we use them; quantity and quality - Nkwah Azinwi Ngum Click To Tweet


What do you think about using fertilizers and other chemicals on our crops?  Does that have any effects on our systems?

Using fertilizers is not a bad idea, but the problem is how we use them; quantity and quality. Most fertilizers contain the same basic materials: nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sometimes other nutrients, like zinc, needed for healthy plant growth.

Fertilisers that are designed to kill or prevent weeds are most damaging to our health, as they are known to be the leading cause of cancer. In addition to that, fertilisers can cause water and soil pollution which can lead to other diseases.

We therefore need to use fertilisers mindfully, in order to mitigate the negative effects. It is for these reasons that I strongly advise the use of organic fertilizers. I encourage people to make their own organic fertilizer by simply recycling their organic waste at home. This does not only increase our crop yields but also ensures healthier veggies and saves money.

 Have you ever created your own vegetable garden for business purposes?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Adebimpe Akinbuja: Producing safe chickens for consumption

Adebimpe Akinbuja

I made up my mind to create employment for myself & grow it so that others will have jobs too Click To Tweet

To ace our hustles, we need to be alive and in good health otherwise, we won’t be able to make the impact we desire. This is why we need to eat good food, quality food that will not impede our health in any way.

This young woman, Adebimpe Oladunjoye Akinbuja is doing something about the quality of chicken available for consumption. She studied animal production and health at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology ( LAUTECH) and is putting this into her hustle. It’s no wonder that when she saw the challenges in the sector, Adebimpe decided to change the narrative in her own way.

How did you find yourself in the poultry business?

At first, it was simply because I saw the alarming rate of unemployment in the country. My senior colleagues were graduating but were not having something tangible to do for over a year. I made up my mind to create employment for myself and grow it so that people around me will have a job out of it too.

After creation, I discovered there was more to do. My landlord in school then operated a cold room. One day he told us about how we are gradually dying from the things we eat. He told us that the frozen foods we eat are being preserved using an embalming chemical, formalin. He spoke as if we didn’t have a choice but to keep consuming this ‘dead-body fluid’ (in pidgin accent) and continue to die gradually.

I took that information a little further and decided to produce chickens that will be safe and healthy for the consumption of humans.

That is amazing! What are the challenges in this business line?

I’ve had to face challenges from technical, to financial, to environmental, market, transportation and the major one has been power.

And I’m still facing some of them till date.

There is perception that the Poultry business is too risky, what is your opinion?

People say they hate poultry business because chickens die a lot. They believe it is a risky business. Yes, poultry business is highly risky and chickens die but every business has risks, what should be focused on is risk mitigation.

With a good business model, appropriate poultry house, good biosecurity practice, a learning mind and God’s blessings you will be a successful poultry farmer.

The poultry business is highly risky but every business has risks, rather focus on risk mitigation Click To Tweet

What other opportunities abound asides rearing the chickens?

Poultry business is filled with lots of opportunities. We have egg production, meat production, live chicken production, transportation, poultry housing and equipment, processing and marketing, training and consultancy.

Do you think the Nigerian system is favourable to this line of business?

I would say no because in Nigeria, we still struggle with the problem of power and this is eating into the profit of farmers. We also have issues of hatcheries not been transparent enough.

And importation of frozen chickens still affects the sales of fresh chicken in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, we still struggle with power cuts and this is eating into the profit of farmers Click To Tweet

What is your advice to young women interested in building a poultry business?


Find yourself a coach and a mentor and let them show you the way. Ask questions and network with other poultry “agripreneurs”.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Emefa Quashie: From beauty queen to farmer and social entrepreneur

emefa quashie

Mamagah Farms is an agricultural social project run by beauty queen Emefa Quashie Click To Tweet

It’s not every day that you hear the story of a beauty queen owning a farm. But the story gets bewildering when you notice that instead of just employing people to work on the farm (like some “modern” farmers do) she goes hands in and knee deep -getting her well-manicured nails in groveling dirt as she furiously uproots and plants, as she waters and nurtures and as she satisfyingly harvests and reaps.

Meet Emefa Quashie. A present farmer, social entrepreneur and an erstwhile beauty pageant winner. When she’s not furiously uprooting and planting on her farm (Mamagah Farms), she is lost in her studies for her MBA in Marketing or running Universal ChildCare Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports needy children.

SLA contributor Emma Kwenu Smith caught up with Emefa to get some insights on how to dominate in an unpopular agriculture career for modern young women and simultaneously use it to make a social impact.

Tell us about Mamagah Farms.

Mamagah Farms is a social project that mobilizes and empowers rural women farmers to adopt modern technologies in farming. We want to commercialize agriculture in rural communities in southern Ghana. Mamagah farms was established in 2015 with the main aim of empowering women economically through commercial farming and creating support schemes. These schemes create opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihood.

Currently, we work with female smallholder farmers in rural communities within the Southern part of Ghana. Simply put: We farm, we train and we support.

There are so many avenues for social entrepreneurship -why agriculture and what was the innovative idea behind Mamagah Farms?

I was born into a farming community, and my mother was a small holder farmer so I spent a lot of my days on the farm assisting her. Unfortunately, along the line I grew up with a warped misconception about agriculture. Growing up in a rural community, I always thought farming was for the poor and uneducated -after all, many folks there turn to farming to be able to feed their families and also make an economic living.

However, over time I came to appreciate the relevance of agriculture and numerous opportunities it presents to the youth. Mamagah Farms was born out of this realization. This is why I decided to take up farming –to send a message to the young women.


Do you plan to diversify what you produce and expand to include other parts of the country? How are you preparing for this?

With over 200 acres of land in the Volta Region of Ghana, we specialize in growing and harvesting in maize and pepper. Unfortunately, and as is the same with any start-up, not having enough funds can slow down plans of scaling up. We are pitching for investors and hopefully, we would be able to work at optimum capacity, making full use of the land.

This way, we will be able to diversify our produce and grow a variety of crops to suit both local and international demands. Funding is everything especially for an entrepreneur who wants to leverage on technology to make farming simple and easier. There are plans to expand to other parts of the country and even West Africa.

Funding is everything especially for an entrepreneur who wants to leverage on technology Click To Tweet

How does your business as a social venture empower local women farmers?

Mamagah Farms is just like social entrepreneurship project. We apply business principles to solve societal problems. What we noticed is that there is potential for rural women farmers to cultivate on a bigger scale and learn the best farming methods which would ultimately impact their economic livelihood. Realizing this, we use the profit from Mamagah Farms for investments.

Apart from financially supporting these farmers to purchase inputs and commercialize their farms, we also partner with local organizations to provide training and extension sessions for these women. Most of the women who work with us are single mothers and while we want to fight poverty and promote empowerment, we want these women to have enough to afford to educate their children. An empowered woman means an empowered family and ultimately, an empowered nation.


What challenges have you faced with Mamagah Farms and its related social projects?

My biggest challenge has been reorienting the minds of the local folks. As hardworking as they are, the tradition has created a certain mindset towards change. A typical example is technology. When you suggest the use of tractors, some believe that using tractors may disturb the peace of their ancestors. With such a mindset, how can we grow?

But it is not enough to recognize a challenge and leave it there. We take the women farmers through training programs, where we address these challenges. We show them concrete examples of how farming is done in first world countries and how we can get there. Culture and tradition can have a hold on people’s mindset, and it is important to give them the needed exposure in order to disabuse this mindset.


Why should more women explore the prospects in agriculture in Ghana, and Africa?

In recent times, women are defying the odds and taking more risks in their careers. Why should agriculture and agribusinesses be any different? Can a woman not own a 10,000 acre farm and work on it herself, while managing others to work as well? Agriculture has never been and is not a reserve of men. Our natural disposition as women makes us more inclined to be the better farmers, we are nurturing and detail-oriented. This is an important quality.

There are several opportunities in agriculture we can take advantage of. From crop planting through to the distribution of produce, there are endless opportunities to explore. Food is a necessity. Africa has arable land and other resources, and there are always opportunities to meet the need for food produce.  If you get such an opportunity, why say no?

Agriculture has never been and is not a reserve of the man - Emefa Quashie founder of @MamagahFarms Click To Tweet

Aside farming, what are your other interests?

I study because I have to slay in my MBA.  Aside that, I love to visit the gym and play tennis. Having been a beauty queen myself, I enjoy beauty pageantry.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Brigite Faustin: The future for women agripreneurs is blossoming

@BrigiteF founder of OBRI is seeing an increase in ambitious agripreneurs across Africa Click To Tweet

When Brigite Faustin says the future for women agripreneurs is blossoming, we believe her. The Tanzanian #MotherlandMogul is Founder and Managing Director of OBRI (T) Company. Brigite’s company makes edible oil under the OBRI brand. From raw materials to manufacturing, everything is done in Tanzania.

Brigite is a self-taught entrepreneur who has made agribusiness and human development her business. She runs OBRI company as a co-operative social enterprise, ensuring that farmers and communities are supported. Brigite wants to see more women in her industry and has suggestions on how to make this happen.

Tell us about the concept of co-operative social enterprise your business is modelled after.

Our business model lies behind the concept of co-operative social enterprise. This model promotes economic opportunities for cooperatives organizations, farmers associations and communities through the innovative application of sound business practice. The model supports smallholder farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, improve land use, increase the quality and quantity of their crops, and promote safe and efficient working practices.

The model is a win-win to both farmers and the company, as it guarantees a sustainable market channel of agricultural produce to the local farmers while offering quality raw materials to the company without stressing on price fluctuation.

How many years have you been in the industry you currently work in? How do you believe your business model will improve this industry?

I researched this industry for three years and formalized our company October, last year. I believe our business model will improve this industry because most edible oils in Tanzania are imported and sold at high price.

Majority of local companies fail to meet the required quality. Our business model emphasises quality control and value for money. We only source our raw materials from co-operative unions who are dedicated to quality.

Brigite Faustin: I researched this industry for 3 years before formalizing my company Click To Tweet

Was there a point where you didn’t take your journey seriously? What happened to change that?

Yes. Running a business is like riding on a roller coaster. Although it is fun and exciting, there will be times when you’ll be scared and feel powerless.

The first three months after I started my company, I wasn’t 100% sure that my brand will stand out in the market and survive the competition. I had limited perception of what my business is capable of! I chose to shed my illusions, understood the core value proposition in my business model and demystified the workings of the business world. Finally, I found myself achieving more than what I have ever dreamed was possible.


What are your experiences as a woman in Tanzania’s agriculture and manufacturing sector?

My experience has been both challenging and exciting. Like in many parts of Africa, running a food manufacturing company in Tanzania is not easy. There are lots of challenges from the policy point of view to market acquisition.

The biggest challenge so far is brand awareness. Being that I am building a proudly African brand, it takes a lot of work to penetrate the market and get people in the know. I have a global plan for my brand.

Weak policy implementation and a lack of small business support is another challenge. The government and other key stakeholders have to work on this to encourage more women and young entrepreneurs to invest in the sector.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

Seeing my products competing with both local and international brands is the biggest highlight for me.

Some of these brands have over 10-20 years in the market!

Brigite Faustin: Our business model emphasises quality control and value for money. Click To Tweet

What keeps you going every day?

I always believe each new day brings an opportunity to get it right. I’m driven to become and remain successful.

My goal is to grow and sustain my company. As my business grows, so does my responsibilities. I see my company in the next three years growing across Eastern and Southern Africa, employing young minds and contributing to the society.

This keeps me going and pushes me to get it right every day.

Interest in agriculture is slowly growing across the continent, what do you think needs to be done to encourage more women to go into this sector?

I see an increase in ambitious, devoted and motivated agripreneurs daily across the continent. It is inspiring! Women are no longer waiting for someone to dish them riches on a platter of gold. They are ready to work for it and I am confident that the hard work will pay off soon.

Even with the success stories, a few has to be done to encourage more and more women into this sector.

Brigite Faustin: I always believe each new day brings an opportunity to get it right. Click To Tweet

1. Mentorship, coaching and role models.

I wish when I first began my business that I had a coach. Someone to learn to and take me through the journey. I would not have made so many careless and uninformed mistakes. This would have helped me save a lot of resources (time and money) and I could probably be one or two step ahead of where I am today.

Again, the more coaching and women role models there are, the more women will think, ‘maybe I could actually do this’. So hopefully, as we start to get more role models in the agriculture industry coming through, more women will think seriously about their ideas.

2. Support

As agriculture has become more commercially-orientated, the glass ceilings which held restrictions have been lifted. There are now far more opportunities within agriculture businesses for women to actively participate.

Governments have a key role to play in this relation. They should support access to land, provide financial opportunities and design friendly policies that will encourage more women to take agriculture seriously.

The future for women agripreneurs is blossoming. I think it’s high time now for women in Africa to feel confident and start to participate in agriculture for business.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Gabby Malope: I have a life toolbox for every challenge

gabby malope she leads africa

From regaining the ability to walk after an accident left her in a wheelchair to training subsistence farmers in agriculture, Gabby Malope has a lot of life and business experience under her belt.

When she spoke with SLA contributor Makalela, Gabby spared no details on how she found her way to becoming a facilitator, her foray into counselling and how she believes she’s walking the footsteps of her role model.

Tell us about yourself.

I am very bubbly by nature, I love traveling a lot and meeting new people. As a child, I never got opportunities to express myself so growing up, I couldn’t wait to experience life’s challenges and battles.

I was always protected by my twin brother. His passing away left me broken and very sensitive. In 2007, we were both involved in a car accident that took his life and left me disabled. My life took a downturn due to the accident. I was declared unfit to work or function in any corporate environment.

People always told me I should stay in faith and that I will be all right. I never took them serious until in 2010 when a huge miracle happened. One night, I was sleeping and woke up to go to the bathroom. When I stepped out of bed, I fell to the ground. I was so happy, I screamed with joy because I could walk again.

I shouted so loud, neighbours came running in thinking something terrible happened. That was the day I found my favour with God. Since then, I live my life like tomorrow will never come, each day is a gift for me.

How did you get into being a facilitator and what has been your experience running a business?

In 2006, I was working for an NGO called Siyaphila Youth Support Services. It was led by young people under the leadership of Mrs. Nondumiso Phaahla. The main focus was dealing with HIV and poverty alleviation projects. My strength was with peer education, I just loved talking to my peers because I knew the peer pressure we were facing at that time.

Even after the accident, I still went to work while on a wheelchair. That was until 2012 when I was invited to come do some motivational speaking in one of the City of Tshwane Events. Someone after speaking asked me if I had ever thought of being a facilitator because he saw that in me.

One day, I decided to register a company that will help me be eligible to offer my facilitation skills. Then I realized that I needed to get trained to be a better facilitator so I shopped around for companies that offer that.

I found one, then I enrolled. Shortly after finishing the training, a lady called me to ask if I could speak isiZulu. She was looking for people who can train 500 people in KwaZuluNatal in isiZulu languages.

The phone call changed my life for good. Ever since, I have been a training specialist in farming while managing the farm I produce crops from.

As for my experience, I had to get equipped to be able to deliver quality work. So I took agriculture courses to be prepared for any challenges. I currently run a training academy of agriculture in Vastfontein in pyramid Hammanskraal.

I always have to be on top of the production because if you take your eyes off, you lose a lot. The farm has to produce more and more every year and the training centre has to grow every year. So far, the journey has been quite exciting.

Why did you decide to go into counselling ?

It was after the ordeals that I went through. When people hear my testimony, they often ask me how I managed to pull through. Mostly, these people were ladies who were troubled by their daughters who were in my age group.

They needed answers and I would always counsel them before going to my peers. That grew even more when I joined the Hatfield Christian church to study at the Life Training School (LTS). A few of the courses that I did helped me to grow in the field of couselling. This was combined with the training I got from the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) and the Department of Health.


How do you determine which products to grow on your farm?

The market and consumer always guides us on what to produce more than anything. We produce cash crops because as a farm, we must produce what will be able to carry daily running costs of the farm. The farm workers also need to be able to earn a living.

We produce big crops such as green peppers, cabbages, onions, chillies, beetroot and potatoes, which takes more time that spinach.

The response to market makes it easy for us to farm a lot of produce. Other crops are seasonal and that makes it hard to produce them every season.
We also donate some of our products to the care homes and orphanages. That’s more like our corporate social responsibility within our area.

What is your greatest strength?

I have a toolbox of my life for every challenge. I have a tool that fixes any specific challenge.

Also, I grow from the challenges that I come across so I never run. When the beast is in my yard, I stand and carry my cross.

Who would you say is your role model?

My uncle Mula Peter Malope. He worked for few years then, he took his savings and bought a combie. Ever since, he has been running his business. He has even opened a shop. He never worked but made his dreams come true. To this day, he is still running the taxi business.

Most of us in the family no longer have mothers and fathers. Our parents were never there so he had to care for our livelihood. My uncle stood by his words when he said we will never be orphans. To this day, he still manages the family and ensures that every year we all meet for a family gathering.

I love him very much. He is so humble and kind and he is always encouraging us to advance. When he calls me, I know I will laugh a lot because he calls me ‘tshwena” which means “monkey” in Sepulana.

Also, my uncle always wants to help people and give them a job so they can have something to eat. I am very proud of him. I feel like I’m walking in his footsteps. There are times when I wish I could just tell him how much of an impact he has made in my life. He is he father I have never known.

If you could be any age for a day which age will you choose and why?

Definitely 25, just for the body shape I had.

I used to look fabulous, now I am a bit grown up even my body says so too.

Gabby can be reached via her mobile phone (076 722 4194) or email (,