When Bheki Mdelwa and Lucky Sithole of Kweli Meats decided to take their chances at the third and final leg of the Agro-processing Pitching Programme, they did not think they would walk away with the biggest investment amount of the day.
“We never thought of winning, but we also never thought of not winning. We thought, let’s just focus on doing our best and then the rest will take care of itself,” said Mdelwa. “We just knew that we had to participate, and we thought we are going to learn from the people who are participating, but those guys are now coming to us for tips,” added Sithole.
“We serve humanity, and at this point in time our main focus is on positive black business. We make sure that whoever we come across, does not stay the same person, at the same time focusing on meat,” said Mdelwa.
Seven small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) competed for R1 million’s worth of funding. The programme is an incentive scheme established by the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) to support SMMEs in agro-processing with the intention to broaden participation in this sector by awarding productive equipment to entrepreneurs who are or who want to venture into agro-processing. The programme started in June 2018 and has already awarded 7 winners, who collectively received prizes to the value of R2 million.
Kweli Meats received R450 000 as the first prize winner. In second place was Atlehang Merino, who received R350 000. Third was Mimmie Projects and Trading, who received R200 000.
Third place winner, Molebogeng Semela from Mimmie Projects and Trading, said that the funding was going to help them receive accreditation from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). “This will be unlocking our business because we cannot sell our products in big retail stores yet and this funding will be going towards making sure we have the right certification for that. We will also invest it in purchasing the equipment we need for manufacturing,” said Semela.
FS Destea chief director: Integrated Economic Planning, Dr Thabo Mokoena, encouraged those who did not win anything on the day to take part in more opportunities to come, and to consider various available platforms to help grow their agro-processing businesses. – Seithati Semenokane