Local news

From corporate to self-made entrepreneur

A young farmer's business generously receives funding from an NPO to empower and impact the youth and community.

In celebration of Youth Month, a young farmer’s successful journey proves the importance of being passionate about your work, which will not only bring exceptional results but also help you achieve your goals.

John-Keith du Val is a 29-year-old farmer and owner of Ukunemba Farming, a feedlot business that specialises in livestock farming, running both an extensive farming venture (breeding) and an intensive feedlot operation.

As a former chartered accountant, John took the risk of leaving his career to follow his passion of being a farmer and owning his own business. His entrepreneurial drive led to the acquisition of 800 cattle and seven farms, showcasing the potential of risk-taking and passion for success.

“It was always a dream of mine to have my own business and create my own product. It was not easy to take such a risk, leaving a job I studied seven years for and a job that is seen as highly paid.

John shows the grass he feeds his cattle. Photo: Tshegofatso Thobedi.

“I know many people thought I was making a mistake, but I knew that one day the sacrifice I made would pay off. The vision was not only to own a business but to increase job creation, especially for the youth who find it difficult to find employment,” John said.

John had the amazing opportunity to be profiled and funded by the Masisizane Fund, which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing enterprise development to small, medium, and micro enterprises in South Africa with a focus on majority black-owned businesses in rural and developing urban areas.

The Masisizane Fund was created with the belief that economic empowerment through sustainable development would be critical to SA’s commercial success. It is a crucial asset for supporting small and midsize enterprises in SA by granting entrepreneurs access to funding and providing post-investment support.

According to the executive head of the fund, Thabo Hleza, there are certain requirements an enterprise needs to have to qualify for funding.

“Where some institutions may provide funding without any further support, the fund is committed to driving broader change through offering development support and close collaboration with the entrepreneurs we invest in to ensure their sustainability and growth.

“John is a young and ambitious man who really caught our attention with the vision he has for his business. Our comprehensive support enhances post-investment endeavours and drives successful turnaround initiatives. These efforts are dedicated to bolstering the capabilities of dynamic entrepreneurs such as John, fostering their sustainable growth, and ensuring their long-term success,” Thabo said.

John told the Roodepoort Northsider that being an animal lover taught him how to farm sustainably, by feeding their cows grass from their own farm and predominantly being organic.

John with the first cow he purchased. Photo: Tshegofatso Thobedi.

The company recently signed a 10-year lease for a 125-hectare farm in Welkom which consists of two hectares of feedlot that will balance the use for grazing and backgrounding.

Currently, he owns a total of 1 500 hectares and wishes to keep expanding and growing the business. With his in-depth knowledge and experience in finance and accounting, learning the business was easy and a great advantage for him.

“This is only the beginning of bigger and greater things to come,” John added.

The feedlot can house 1 000 cattle. However, due to legislative constraints, the company will only house 500 cattle. Once the company has sufficient cash reserves, it will apply for the Environmental Impact Assessment so that it can operate at full capacity.

Being a young entrepreneur who wishes to keep seeing growth in the younger generation, John hopes that his story could inspire the youth and encourage them to keep pursuing their goals.

Related Articles

Back to top button