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Jack Molomo and Hosea Phala – Bathokwa High School, Limpopo

Jack Molomo (18) and Hosea Phala (19) are in Grade 12 at Bathokwa High in the Waterberg District of Limpopo. Their village is about 150 kilometres west of Mokopane. Jack recalls how his mother was growing vegetables in the back garden when he was growing up and she always encouraged him to help out in the garden. This encouragement would later inspire him to turn a self-sustaining garden into a business opportunity. Jack and Hosea had been talking about starting a small business for a while, but did not quite know what to do or where to start.

What motivated them to want to start a business? Regular exposure to the business studies programme at school and a good teacher who stood behind them all the way made the difference.

The young men discovered that many families did not cultivate vegetables or only grew veggies on a meagre scale to provide for themselves. Their self-taught skills and a passion for planting gave them the idea to cultivate vegetables and run a fresh vegetable business to supply the local community as well as other businesses in the area.

What motivated them
to want to start a
business?
Regular exposure to
the business studies
programme at school
and a good teacher
who stood behind
them all the way made
the difference.

They did their mind-work and leg-work and discovered that many families wanted a regular supply of fresh vegetables. In their conversations they discovered the locals particularly wanted fresh beetroot and spinach every week.

One of the challenges they encountered was finding a piece of ground large enough to start off their project. Fortunately, Hosea’s parents were very supportive: they saw the potential in these young men and made the family backyard available. According to Jack, the ground is approximately 15 metres in length: “Not very big,” he says, “but big enough to get started.” Meanwhile, they have recently approached local community leaders to apply for vacant ground in the area to cultivate their crops on a larger scale.

Jack and Hosea realised that the community as their only market would be too small and so they approached two tourism institutions in the area, the Nature Conservation Board and the Cultural Village Centre. These two institutions have been very helpful in supporting these young business start-ups. The duo agreed to supply them regularly with fresh spinach, onions, tomatoes and beetroot.

According to Jack, they have been able to supply 200 bunches of spinach (R10/bunch) and beetroot (R15/bunch) every month. Their goal is to supply the local community with all their fresh produce on a daily basis, as well as supplying well known retailers and traders in the not-too-distant future.

The two want to further their studies without abandoning the veggie project. Next year Jack wants to study Internal Auditing and Hosea, Agricultural Science. The learners acknowledge the contribution and support from their teacher who always advised them on business ideas and opportunities in the area.