S1 E4 GrowthShoot – inclusive agriculture

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GrowthShoot – growing tomorrow’s food today

When Nono’s father finally managed to convince her to leave the banking space in Johannesburg, and join him in running their family farm in Senekal in the Free State, she had no idea how she would end up falling in love with the space. She now actively works towards building an inclusive ecosystem that touches all aspects of the agriculture value chain in an effort to a) aid emerging farmers to become more sustainable, b) employ and upskill youth in the rural areas, and c) kickstart the rural economy. She has had all sorts of doors opened up to her, from travel to business courses and insight into international practices, and now she is paying it forward in an impactful way.


Growth Shoot      Growth Shoot

Show Notes

Nono tells us about how she got into the agricultural space [01:30]
Nono tells us how the courses that she attended helped her gain confidence to run a farm [04:40]
The importance of collaboration was first shown when Nono realised how fortunate she was to have access to large pieces of land [06:35]
Nono talks about the present drive to move people towards farming when there is already a large number of people in the rural areas who are interested and need support, and hence the inspiration for GrowthShoot.[07:25]
Support is so key to success [10:05]
Relationships and networking is so key, and Nono’s father has that in spades. [10:38]
Farming has opened up opportunities for Nono to travel around the world. [13:45]
Through African Farmer’s Association South Africa (AFASA), Nono is looking to use the little initiatives, such as planting potatoes, to create a comprehensive programme for encouraging agriculture amongst the youth in South Africa [14:37]
Having land isn’t enough, you need skills, finance, input and access to a market. You need all 5.[16:00]
Through GrowthShoot, Nono wants to build an ecosystem that allows farmers to just concentrate on farming. [16:49]
Nono doesn’t do this alone, she has a partner who works full-time – for now [17:40]
Breeding rabbits are surprisingly lucrative [18:50]
GrowthShoot’s incubation will help employ youth and give them new skills [22:00]
Finance has probably been their biggest challenge when you are a startup in the agricultural space. [25:11]
Having a larger constituency of small holder farmers in Africa may actually be more beneficial in terms of setting up structures for growth. [30:45]
Networking groups helped her get access to courses and fellowships. [34:00]
Understanding how other farmers around you are doing and what they are doing or essentially entering a co-op is probably the best way to enter the industry from scratch. [45:00]
Build a good foundation in your formative years so that you can go out and build your business. [49:50]
Nono wants to find a creative space in agriculture to disseminate information and brand it. [57:45]

Significant quotes:

“I was never going to be a farmer” 09:38
“Since I’ve been there, its easier to see the vast opportunities, its insane” 09:47
“As a farmer you can’t just say, ooh I’ve got land, I’m going to farm” 15:57
“Most businesses are scared to be losing money, because unfortunately in an experimental phase you are going to be losing money.” 31:37
“You have to earmark some of the money to learn how to do things.” 31:45
“For an ecosystem to work well enough, you have to have all of the partners participating, you have to have all of the support.” 32:40
Farming is capital intensive and so whilst land is important, you need access to finance to be sustainable. [38:00]
Nono explains the various ways that one can get access to land through the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. [39:00]
“If you want a sustainable business, you need to start climbing up the value chain. Or you need to scale primary agriculture, which means land.”43:30
“Its about creating that cycle.” 46:26

Links Mentioned:

Makolobane Farm’s website
GrowthShoot’s Facebook page
GrowthShoot’s website
GIBS / Goldman Sachs 10000 women
Business Women’s Associations

African Farmer’s Association South Africa
AFASA Youth National Facebook group

Coniglio Rabbit Farm

Department of Rural Development and Land Reform – land redistribution and development
Masisizane – Old Mutual Fund

SAB Foundation

UP scholarships for agricultural studies
BBC interview with Nono
TedX talk done by Nono
Senwes – agribusiness
John Deere South Africa

About the author, Charlotte

Charlotte, or Charlie as she likes her friends to call her, is what you would call a multipotentialite or a jack of all trades if you must. She been an auditor, an English teacher, a consultant, an executive assistant and product manager. She loves to read, watch shows, learn, tries to exercise, eats a lot, travels and tries out new things.

Entrepreneurship excites her not only because of its capability to bring joy (read freedom) to entrepreneurs, but also because it can vastly improve a country or continent for the better.

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