CAPE TOWN -A young 25-year old Bcom graduate took the leap by becoming self-employed. He now runs a successful fruit supply company, Cape Crops which exports fruit to over 20 countries.
Cape Crops is run by Cape-Town born entrepreneur, Uzair Essack.
Essack founded his fruit supply company four years ago, while studying his B.Com Degree at the University of Cape Town.
On his reason for starting the company, Essack said that business had always been in his blood.
“My grandfather and father had been businessmen, they never worked in a corporate world”, said Essack.
His first venture began where he imported rice to Pakistan and India.
His collegaue then had a contact in Saudi Arabia who asked if they supply pineapples.
He then started out with supplying fruit and realised that it was a profitable industry as there is a high demand for South African fruit.
The 25-year-old says that he initially started his business independently but it eventually reached a level where he could not do all the work by himself.
He adds that he headed to Germany to attend the International Fruit Expo, Fruit Logistica which took place over 3 days.
He says that his main supply of fruit is citrus but adds that this is seasonal.
Essack says that at times, he delivers approximately 10 to 20 containers a week which is equivalent to 24 000 tons per container.
Taking into consideration the current water crisis in Cape Town, Essack says that this has been challenging and it is a great concern.
“What we as Cape Crops is doing is to bring in 24 000 litres of drinking water per week”, he said.
The water will be delivered from a bottling plant, sold at a cost and supplied to a charity foundation who will then be distributing it around Cape Town.
The business market is also quite challenging but he had been fortunate to use farmers as a reference and in turn, build up his contact base.
On the challenges he faces as a young entrepreneur, Essack says that capital is the first challenge.
“Capital is a big challenge in this business because we have to pay farmers a substantial amount upfront”, says Essack.
He recounts his first deal when things went sour. Essack borrowed money and did three deals to Pakistan.
“The first two deals went well but on the third deal, the customer disappeared with the money”, he said.
“This was disappointing as it put me 10 steps back”.
However, instead of quitting, he persevered and tried harder to make a success of his business.
Going forward, he ensures that he gets a credit guarantee which acts as an insurance liability.
The second challenge he says is that the industry remains largely white-dominated.
“As a person of colour, it is difficult as there are mainly 2 or 3 people in top-tier positions”, he says.
This needs to change.
Although the entrepreneur has a university qualification, he says that it did not one hundred percent help him in running a business.
It did however teach him things like decision making and how to strategise.
He advises other aspiring entrepreneurs who face challenges to keep trying.
“Never give up, always going to face challenges in any business”
“Dont stop at one thing, whenever you see opportunities, try and take them. Whenever you see new opportunities”, jump on the bandwagon
He adds that what is inspiring for him is the fact that his Grandfather started selling tomatos on the street in Sophia Town. Today, he sort of lived out his grandfathers footsteps and taken it further.
“Some weeks we doing thousands of boxes and its going all over the world”, said Essack.
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE