CAPE TOWN – Although KwaZulu-Natal-born entrepreneur Nokulunga Zondi has no background in agriculture, growing up in a rural village where everyone farms for a living ignited her passion to make a difference in the smallholder farming sector through her agri-tech business.
Zondi, is the managing director of Cape Town-based youth-owned business SLE (Spes Legacies) Farming, established in 2016. She hails from a village in KwaZulu-Natal called Tugela Ferry. “I grew up there and almost every family was involved in informal farming activities as a way to generate an income,” said Zondi.
She left her village in 2008 to study at UCT and would return home every year for the duration of her studies.
“The one year I went home, I was just struck by this scary realisation that many of the people that were farming were old gogos and that they had been farming since I was a baby but had nothing to show for their hard work,” she said.
The thought that the residents were as poor as when she had left the village bothered her, she said, and she started researching and reading up about informal farming activities in South Africa and the challenges that smallholder farmers are confronted with in the country.