Farm set to empower women

2008-08-25 00:00

A newly launched farm at Manderston near Thornville is set to provide training and business opportunities for black women who wish to pursue commercial farming.

ZimnandiZonke, owned by Gethwana Mahlase, recently opened and now boasts a host of interesting activities, including livestock and cycad farming.

Mahlase, a trained nurse who ran an NGO organisation in Pietermaritzburg for several years, told The Witness that Ithala Development Finance assisted her.

Independent business consultant Thabani Mpanza also provided Mahlase with advice and support.

She said her farm centres around two key themes: innovation and women’s empowerment.

“We have started small. We supply the abattoirs … and two butcheries. We also sell to the public … for example … for traditional functions and funerals. The demand is there and we have already started selling meat. Feed is the main cost-driver … and we are looking to bring costs down all the time. We are talking to nearby white and Indian farmers who are very eager to help us.

“We have a few pigs and we have partnered with two other women. My aim is to have 50 female pigs. We also have about 900 cycad plants.”

Mahlase’s aim is to rent out space at the farm to other budding farmers.

“They will get their own financing … and venture out once they have the skills. This farm must give birth to many other farms.”

It is understood that there are 10 women’s companies registered as ZimnandiZonke partners and Ithala is in the process of finalising their funding applications.

Mahlase also runs motivational speaking sessions for women under the theme “Women growing together through goal-setting”.

Finance and Economic Development MEC Dr Zweli Mkhize officially launched the farm, in partnership with The Witness, over the weekend.

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