Tue Jul 29 18:47:40 SAST 2014

Seed capital

Dec 10, 2012 | CHRIS MORE |

SMALL business owners always struggle to lay their hands on cash, and so a R182000 loan to Limpopo farmer Jennifer Nengwenani, was a windfall in every sense of the word.

KICK-START: Small enterprise loans help to develop local communities as well as small farms. Picture by KEVIN SUTHERLAND

What Nengwenani, owner of Muema Trading, proved is a tried and tested African adage that to support a woman is to grow a community, as she went out to acquire essential tools to make a business out of a small farm unit, purchasing equipment and other essentials such as chemicals, fertiliser and stock for her farming business.

Since then, the company, which services Musina and other areas in Limpopo, has produced a substantial quantity of quality fruit and vegetables for local communities and has acquired a contract to supply tomatoes to Tiger Brands South Africa.

In so doing Muema Trading is creating a real difference in the local community by increasing their access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.

Nengwenani says the loan from Anglo American's enterprise development arm, Anglo Zimele and their technical support has proved critical in helping her fulfil her business dreams and further community development.

"Zimele's funding and advice has assisted me extensively in my business development, as productivity has increased significantly, and I can now buy materials that I couldn't afford previously," Nengwenani says.

"Beyond this, Zimele's assistance has ultimately afforded me the opportunity to improve the lives of my community members by contributing to job creation and enhancing food production and food security," she says.

Muema Trading has gone from strength to strength during its two years of existence, and now owns 17 hectares of land, two tractors, and employs 16 dedicated workers who deliver its products to Pick 'n Pay, Spar and local spaza shops.

For over 22 years, Zimele's unique approach to enterprise development has realised great rewards. From 2008 to the end of last year its four funds provided R567m in funding, supported 1085 companies and completed 1481 loan transactions. Its funded businesses have employed 19575 people, and achieved a collective annual turnover of R2.4bn.

Dr Lia Vangelatos, acting head of Zimele, says Muema Trading's success is a prime example of the meaningful difference that Zimele is able to make.

"Zimele is committed to not only helping promising small and medium enterprises reach their full potential and stand on their own feet, but to assisting these companies to effect positive change in their communities.

"The impressive progress of Muema Trading, and the difference the company has made in providing the community with a diverse range of fresh, healthy and affordable foods, affirms that the Zimele model is achieving these goals," she says.

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