We’re told that start-ups need to skyrocket to success or risk becoming obsolete, but Uzair Essack has proven that starting small and building up gradually can lead to a bright future.
The Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 and Entrepreneur of the Year is the founder of CapeCrops, a company that exports fresh fruit and vegetables to more than 32 countries. It hasn’t been smooth sailing to the top — a deal that went wrong plunged him into R1-million debt at the age of 24 – but he has learned from every failure, coming out the other side a savvy entrepreneur.
Essack has always been an entrepreneur — while still at the University of Cape Town doing a Bcom in management studies, he imported rice from India and Pakistan, but the oversaturated market meant he wasn’t getting the margins he had hoped for. He pivoted to exports, which meant he could also earn in foreign currency, and his business was born.
There have been stumbling blocks along the way, but he has learned by doing, and believes that failure goes with success:
“It’s not about how many times you fail or how big the failures are, but rather, how many times you overcome those failures and how much you learn from them.”
He is the first to sing the praises of a career in agriculture: “I want to see more of the youth get involved in agriculture as it is an extremely lucrative and fulfilling profession. Growth in agriculture will create more jobs and boost the economy.”