Nonopa Tenza

Kevinot Farming( Pty) Ltd

What does your company do?

Kevinot Farming is a mixed farming business operating in deep rural Eastern Cape. The business farms in cattle, sheep, maize and sugar beans. It is 100% black female owned and led and farms out of a 406ha farm. It started as a side hustle in 2018 and in 2021 the founder and leader of the business Nonopa Tenza a trained accountant and ex Corporate and Investment Banker swapped suits and stilettos to revive a family farm that was lying fallow. Her focus is not only to run a profitable commercial farming enterprise but to uplift the community around her by supporting and mentoring other farmers through providing mechanisation services (i.e using her own tractors to plant for those who do not have) as well as enabling market access and sharing best practices. She also uplifts the community by creating much needed jobs in the area in the form of permanent and seasonal jobs. The business is also behind the creation of micro enterprises in the area as some seasonal workers prefer to be paid in either beans or maize instead of cash so they can onsell to their communities. Nonopa has leveraged her corporate knowledge and networks to secure lucrative offtake agreements with huge multinationals with better terms and pricing. These offtake contracts also benefit other surrounding farmers as they all aggregate their produce and sell together.

What is your biggest success?

My biggest success is turning a family farm that was previously unproductive into a successful enterprise resulting in not only continuing a family legacy but also contributing to food security in the country and the globe. This work has also contributed to stimulating agricultural activity in a farming area where agriculture was dying, and farms had been lying fallow for some time. Thus, contributing to the reduction of the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality for this community. The successes have been recognised through various accolades as follows: - Recipient of the Inaugural Presidential Award for Rural Based SMME of the Year for 2022, - Top 3 Female Commercial farmer in the Eastern Cape 2023 - Top Commercial Female Farmer in the Alfred Nzo district 2023 - AWIEF (Pan African) Female Agripreneur of the year for 2023 awarded in Kigali, Rwanda - and in December 2023 the business won the MTN Business Jumpstarter competition. I was part of a delegation invited to the Union Buildings to meet with President Ramaphosa to discuss challenges faced by small businesses in South Africa in May 2023. I have been sponsored to participate in various trade and investment missions to Italy in May 2023 and May 2024 and Mauritius in February 2024.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

The biggest hurdles have been infrastructure conducive to run a successful business. Being in a remote area of the Eastern Cape, the business struggles with bad roads, the farm is 30 kilometres from the nearest town on a gravel road, with no running water or electricity and bad network connectivity. The other hurdle has been to raise capital to improve infrastructure within the previously underdeveloped farm which meant using own funds and resources to improve the farm infrastructure and equipment. Lastly, the challenge has been to make a mark and have a voice as a black, educated, woman in a male dominated industry where the average farmer is white, male and 60 years of age.