Share Their Story

Stephen Mantsho, 33

Transformation coordinator
South African Subtropical Growers’ Association

Stephen Mantsho is a transformation manager at the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop), which helps emerging farmers become commercially viable in the fruit industry.

The 33-year-old works with emerging black growers to access financing to expand and improve their farming operations. He also coordinates Subtrop’s training of provincial extension officers to ensure that study groups for emerging growers are effective.

The minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza, has worked with Mantsho on numerous transformation projects in the fruit farming industry.

Mantsho wants to bridge the scale, race and market attraction gaps between farmers because “all farmers produce food, and the same food is eaten by all people”, so all farmers should be considered equal. His proudest moment to date was seeing the produce of one of the farmers he represents being sold in Woolworths.

“Food does not have colour, so the impact I want to see is when all farmers are considered equal.”

Author - Lineo Leteba
Thubelihle Zooma, 31

Thubelihle Zooma, 31

Founder and director
Sahiba Foundation Charity Organisation

In 2019, as gender-based violence reached new, brutal heights in South Africa and the #MenAreTrash outcry dominated conversations, Thubelihle Zooma decided to get involved in changing the circumstances of the survivors.
He founded Johannesburg-based NPO Sahiba Foundation Charity Organisation, which focuses on uplifting and supporting vulnerable, abused women and children through soup kitchens, and food and clothing drives. Sahiba Foundation supplies survivors with essential food and household items, builds their skills and gives them the tools to stand on their own. The aim is to give them their power back.
Zooma has been recognised for his work by Young Leaders of Africa and the department of social development. Companies such as KPMG, Albany and Tiger Brands have regularly donated to his cause. Sahiba Foundation also hosts events that encourage networking, contributing to Zooma’s vision of creating a “large network of community leaders and building bridges of hope”.

“Being kind costs you nothing.”

Shereen Goosen | mg.co.za
Tebogo Ratsoma, 24

Tebogo Ratsoma, 24

Student and founder
Loving Little Feet foundation

The aphorism “it takes a village to raise a child” is the backbone of Tebogo Ratsoma’s foundation, Loving Little Feet (LLF). Ratsoma started the foundation in 2021 after witnessing the effects of Covid-19 on impoverished families. LLF collects donations of old and new children’s clothing, and then distributes these across South Africa.

Ratsoma is currently studying medicine at the University of Cape Town. As a medical student, she is constantly learning about the struggles that communities of low socioeconomic status face, and the importance of treating her patients with maximum care.

She explains that the various leadership positions she took up at university taught her to care deeply for others. “It taught me servitude — I live to serve others,” she says. “If it wasn’t for this experience, I don’t think I would have thought of the Loving Little Feet foundation.”

“I want other caregivers to love other children by donating clothes their children outgrow. I want a South Africa where we all are united and raise our children together.”

Georgia Satchwell | mg.co.za
Oxolo Mofokeng, 35

Oxolo Mofokeng, 35

Executive director
Siyavuna Abalimi Development Centre

Oxolo Mofokeng is the executive director of the Siyavuna Abalimi Development Centre. Siyavuna empowers rural farmers by providing skills and enterprise development through sustainable and climate change-resilient farming methods.
Siyavuna has trained more than 2 000 elderly farmers – 86% of whom were women – and is in the process of initiating 1 000 young people into the agricultural space. Through this work, they hope to improve food sustainability, address the high levels of youth unemployment, connect young people to the agricultural value chains and facilitate the transfer of indigenous agricultural knowledge from one generation to the next.
Mofokeng’s involvement in Siyavuna has been a seven-year journey of progress and growth starting as a personal assistant and rising to the position of executive director. Through hardships and successes, she introspected, evaluated and focused on her goal of helping rural communities attain stable and sustainable livelihoods.

Be true to yourself, encourage yourself, and love yourself the most.

Anita Makgetla | mg.co.za
Nokwanda Mathenjwa, 35

Nokwanda Mathenjwa, 35

Industrial development researcher
University of Johannesburg

Nokwanda Mathenjwa is an industrial development researcher at the University of Johannesburg, busy completing her master’s in industrial policy. Her passion lies with grassroots rural community development projects. She believes that South Africa could revolutionise its economic growth and youth unemployment rates by using an improved industrial policy that reforms disparities of the past and makes resources available.

Mathenjwa aims for her projects to have positive and sustainable impacts on communities, particularly in terms of job opportunities for women and youth. She fosters economic independence for the communities she works with.

She was recently selected to participate in the 2022 Mandela Washington Fellowship, an academic fellowship opportunity in the United States. Mathenjwa firmly believes that everyone has a divine life purpose; she encourages young people to embrace their uniqueness and follow their paths to success.

“Mistakes make us wise and are propellants to an unknown, yet adventurous, future.”

Laura du Toit | mg.co.za
Mokgadi Morapi, 30

Mokgadi Morapi, 30

Systems analyst and chairperson
FNB and WeCan Foundation

Mokgadi Morapi is the founder of the WeCan Foundation, an NPO with a vision of educating and empowering young people to make informed decisions about their careers.
Morapi began working as a systems analyst at FNB after achieving a BSc in information technology from the University of Johannesburg. She saw the need to give back to the community by identifying and bridging gaps in the transition from school to university.
As the chairperson of WeCan, Morapi leads the executive team, with each executive member mentoring a share of the 80 mentees. Since 2014, the foundation has launched several community development programmes to promote prosperity through education. Her efforts with WeCan have seen reduced dropout rates and year-on-year improvements in the matric pass rates at nine schools in Limpopo.

“You should constantly search for new solutions and more effective approaches to doing things; be open to learning new things.”

Daniël De Jager | mg.co.za
Keatlegile Mnguni, 26

Keatlegile Mnguni, 26

Chief executive officer, agri-entrepreneur
AgriNouri

Keatlegile Mnguni is an agri-entrepreneur working in agricultural processing and community development.
After working as a chef, Mnguni founded a fresh produce processing company named AgriNouri by merging her skills in food management with her experience in farming. By supplying the retail market with fresh vegetables, herbs and sauces through her company, Mnguni strives to be an example for young South African farmers working to alleviate hunger, poverty and unemployment.
In 2020, the African Farmers Association of South Africa elected Mnguni as its National Youth Chairperson to advocate for youth in agriculture across the value chain and to help young people overcome challenges through developing programmes to improve growth and production.
Mnguni’s efforts play an important role in socioeconomic development by creating employment and building a greener South Africa. She’s working to be a game-changer in the agricultural sector through skills development for locals as well as advocacy for youth and women transformation.

When you fail, fail forward. Just remember that it’s your journey.

Daniël De Jager | mg.co.za
Keletso Kgalema, 26

Keletso Kgalema, 26

Founder
SHEroine Leads

Working to increase the literacy rate in rural Limpopo is a key goal for SHEroine Leads.
The nonprofit organisation in the Sekhukhune district focuses on helping the youth and young women in particular gain essential skills to cross the digital divide. Founder Keletso Kgalema says her aim is to create a literate society that is ready for the digital world despite the social issues facing rural communities.
Kgalema is committed to changing the fact that your class and location often determine the quality of your education. The efforts of her organisation mean her community will be able to participate more equally with the whole world, she hopes.
“I believe that life is a relay and we ought to pass the baton — it is your choice as to what kind of baton you pass down and the future of the society you live in. That keeps me pushing more for a better world.”

If you truly believe in something, stay committed.

Lesley Stones | mg.co.za
Johnpheko Maphakela, 31

Johnpheko Maphakela, 31

Film and TV editor
Blouberg Cinema

Johnpheko Maphakela’s love for film and television is bundled up with a heartfelt desire to share it with others. Strong ties to his community underpin the work of Blouberg Cinema, an initiative Maphakela cofounded with friends in 2020. Through this mobile, open-air and drive-through cinema experience, he and his acolytes are making South African films available to audiences across Limpopo.
Maphakela wishes to create opportunities for local filmmakers and to promote film as an agent of development and change. Working his way up the industry ladder, Maphakela says he came to the realisation that he was no longer making films to make money, but rather trying to make money so that he could make more films. Previously, the University of Johannesburg graduate worked as a camera operator before progressing to editing various television shows for the SABC, e.tv, Mzansi Magic and Showmax.

Learn and never stop learning. Write and keep writing. Shoot and keep shooting, create and keep creating.

Zia Haffejee | mg.co.za
Faith Mokgalaka, 22

Faith Mokgalaka, 22

Founder and chief executive
Puno Greenery

Phalaborwa-born Faith Mokgalaka is the founder and chief executive of Puno Greenery. Along with her team, she works to aid the farming community.

Puno is a platform which allows farmers to crowdsource funds, sell their harvests in advance, or sell shares in their farms. “We spend every day thinking about how we can best be of service to them,” she says.

According to Mokgalaka, Puno exists for three main reasons: to motivate Africa’s 33-million small-scale farmers to commercialise; to decrease barriers to entry for emerging farmers into the agricultural space; and to make resources accessible to the farming community.

Mokgalaka wants to see the process of getting involved in farming become easier for young black people, without facing as many barriers to entry. “The stigma around agriculture is one of these barriers,” she says.

“My proudest moment is seeing a smile on a farmer’s face. It has always been, and will continue to be.”

Alexander Brand | mg.co.za
Ikarabele Legae, 27

Ikarabele Legae, 27

Junior trader
Lona Group

Ikarabele Legae is adding fresh zest to the fruit industry. As a junior trader with Lona Group, Legae creates farm-to-fork market strategies for accounts such as Woolworths, and advises on farm production practices, among other responsibilities. Less than a year after joining the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum, one of the fruit industry’s biggest global forums, Legae was selected as South Africa’s transformation representative.
Before joining Lona Group, Legae owned the only black-owned fruit export company in South Africa at the time. Legae hopes to leave a legacy of opportunity for future generations of South Africans, and to create a space for black exporters to grow their businesses. Lona Group enables him to pursue this dream: the company works with roughly 50% of the previously disadvantaged citrus growers in South Africa, investing and developing their potential for sustainable profits. Every day, he strives to offer something positive to the world. By working hard, he is pursuing his dreams.

Work at achieving excellence at all times and invest in the learning process.

Laura du Toit | mg.co.za
Bonginkosi Kalipa, 29

Bonginkosi Kalipa, 29

Trainee auditor & agricultural entrepreneur
Auditor-General South Africa

Growing up in poverty put Bonginkosi Kalipa on a mission to uplift his community and find practical solutions to hunger.

While studying accounting at the University of Johannesburg, he learned that business knowledge and strategic planning can contribute to better managed food sources. Kalipa started implementing these skills at home, with a small farming project that provided fresh vegetables to his mother and the surrounding community. Since then, the project has grown to a five-hectare space, with plans to expand to 100-hectares by 2030.

“This project has brought multiple solutions to the community — jobs for unemployed youth, rental income for land owners and dividends for investors,” Kalipa says. He believes that if managed correctly, agricultural projects like this one could uplift communities for centuries to come.

In 2019 Kalipa won the top spot at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Student Leadership Summit for his farming project.

“Community success will reach someone I will never see nor meet — that’s my target, every day.”

Luca Hart | mg.co.za

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