A Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) alumna at the Durban University of Technology, Mbali Bengu is creating more farming jobs for the disadvantaged people from her village at Mfulamhle, Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal.
Bengu owns a vegetable farm, K’saselihle Fresh Vegetables in her hometown and since its establishment in 2019, she has managed to permanently employ six locals and from time to time she offers short term contracts to other unemployed locals.
As her business grows, she plans to employ more people as she feels there are many unemployed people in her village, facing poverty.
“The six permanent staff members are people who came to me and asked for a job. These are people who come from very poor backgrounds, where you get a large family depending on a child’s social grant money. Some are people who used to go around doing people’s washings. When you hear their story, you realize that they really needed this job. My wish is to create more jobs for people as I understand their pain,” said Bengu.
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Last year in 2021, she spent the whole year supplying fresh vegetables, mainly spinach and cabbage to Umzimkhulu SuperSpar and also managed to also supply a local supermarket, Macksons.
This year, her focus is on growing sugar beans and butternut and luckily for her, she already has a market for her business. She will be supplying schools with feeding schemes.
“There is this thing called crop rotation, I cannot be planting the same vegetables in the same area over and over. This year, I am planting sugar beans and butternut, in order for the soil to regain its strength. My wish is to end up having my own branded vegetables and to be able to supply other supermarkets in the towns near me,” noted Bengu.
Speaking briefly about her love for farming, Bengu said when she was young, she used to work at local farms during school holidays. This is where she developed her passion for growing vegetables.
“I come from a disadvantaged family, where we had to work from a young age. We would go to farms near our home and seek temporary jobs in order to put food on the table. They used to pay us sometimes with a case of tomatoes and this made me realize that if they can afford to give each worker a case of tomatoes it means they are making a lot with farming,” Bengu said.
The thing she loves the most about this kind of business is the fact that it is a lifetime business as people eat vegetables on a daily basis.
One of the challenges she is currently facing is not having her own transport as she has to rely on other people’s transports.
This sometimes makes her to deliver her orders late and make her seem unreliable to her clients. Currently, she cannot afford to buy her own van for deliveries but is hoping as her business grows, she will be able to make a plan.