Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) Alumna, Mbali Bengu continues to excel in her business, K’saselihle Fresh Vegetables, which is one of the fastest growing companies in the agricultural farming space at Mfulamhle, Umzimkhulu.
Bengu recently harvested 50 (7kg) bags of butternut, 400 cabbages and 45 (10kg) bags of potatoes which she supplied to the local supermarkets. Last month (January 2021) she supplied Umzimkhulu SuperSpar with her healthy and freshly produced spinach.
Her farm which was established in 2019, specializes in growing sugar beans, cabbages, potatoes, green peppers, spinach and butternut. Even though it’s a newly established company they are already supplying three big retail supermarkets with their fresh produce. She currently has three permanent staff and eight part-time employees.
The agripreneur highlighted that she developed the love and passion for agricultural farming through an opportunity that was granted to her by a local farming company.
“I developed the love for farming at the age of 18 when I was working in one of the farms located near my home. It was a fun and educational experience. I observed that the farmer was making a lot of money. I then grew up having that passion of being a farmer, however, I was always wondering as to how am I going to start due to the resources required,” she said.
In 2020, the hardworking Bengu was a final year Bachelor of Education Student at DUT: Indumiso Campus. She used the year to enhance her craft and sharpen her agricultural skills through the assistance of the Midlands Entrepreneurship Centre & Student Desk (Centre).
“It has not been easy for me to juggle being a student, mother, wife and businesswoman. Through God and the support that I constantly receive from my husband who is also a businessman, I can endure. Amongst other challenges that I have encountered, the biggest one was having inadequate resources to start my business. It is also difficult as a young woman to be in the agricultural space, people hardly take you seriously when you market your business,” she added.
She highlighted that she was thrilled to find out that DUT offers entrepreneurial skills to students through their entrepreneurship support structures.
“The DUT Midlands Entrepreneurship Centre played a pivotal role in turning my business idea into reality, thus making my dream of being a farmer come true. They provided me with a variety of training sessions, seed fund and mentorship. They are always with me in every step of my business journey,” said Bengu.
Bengu is passionate about learning new things, coaching and mentoring others to become the best that they can be. She is also inspired by challenges because of the feeling that one gets when they have overcome the challenges.
“Consistence conquers the mind”, people should be mindful of their habits because that is what the mind adapts to. Normalise learning new things to grow yourself as an individual,” she said.
Bengu highlighted that she is elated to see her business doing so well and she believes that it is going far.
“I am so glad to see my business doing so well and I believe that it is going far. Even my confidence has been boosted. All these years, I have been doubting myself, thinking about the resources I will need for my business, not knowing that DUT will be the answer to my worries” she said.
Bengu encouraged young people to venture into agriculture and to test the soil from their gardens before ploughing. “There are so many opportunities within the agricultural sector. It is significant to know that success starts in the garden with the soil. When you have land or garden, it is very important to test the soil to ensure that you sow the right crops so they can thrive and grow well,” emphasised Bengu.
She further explained that she has never had a problem with finding the market for her produce. Her 1.2 hectors of land have become too small due to the demand for her produce.
Furthermore, she urged young people to not only focus on their careers, but venture into entrepreneurship as the high unemployment rate, cannot be ignored.
DUT’s Midlands Entreprenuership Centre & Student Desk is hosting a virtual launch of its Agri-Hub via Microsoft Teams, tomorrow on Wednesday, 24 February 2021 at 10h00. The hub has recruited 15 students with an interest in the agriculture field to use the space for practical learning and for growing their skills.
Pictured: K’saselihle fresh Vegetables produce
: Mbali Bengu
Sindisiwe Ndlovu and Simangele Zuma