I grew up in a rural area of Limpopo. After completing school, I studied for a BSc in Agriculture and then decided to pursue an MBA (for which I am still doing research). I have always had a passion for agriculture, and a strong wish to make a difference and have a big impact. After finishing my studies, I worked for the Department of Agriculture for about four months but didn’t feel as though I was having the impact I desired. I decided this wasn’t for me and started my own business.
I have always been a business-minded person. While in primary school, I took photos of my classmates which I offered to them for sale. During high school, I loaned fellow students money and also sold them sweets. I’ve also always wanted to help make the world a better place and, because I grew up in a very agricultural-oriented household, I knew this was an area where I could make a difference.
My business, Brucol Global Development, is an agricultural consulting company that endeavours to create innovative agricultural solutions that can help develop rural communities across Africa. We have multiple ways of doing this: we offer a farmer support service (sourcing funds to empower people through training, mentorship and the smooth running of operations); a food security service (we have developed a tower garden which we sell to governments and other institutions); and infrastructure development for farmers (mainly irrigation systems).
Apart from the fact that Brucol is youth run, I believe what makes us different is our innovation. We try to innovate in everything we do. Our systems and products are innovative and so is the infrastructure we have designed. In fact, our slogan is “Innovating agriculture”.
A big challenge is always finance. I’ve continually tried to learn as much as possible about business and one of my biggest lessons has been that often financial challenges are caused by a lack of compliance with processes and not having the right systems in place in order to get funding. I found that once I had the right systems and people, the finances fell into place.
I first found out about ENGEN Pitch & Polish through Google.
I read up about it and applied to take part. I learned so much from the programme! Before this experience, I thought I knew how to pitch my business but now I feel like I’ve really mastered the skill of being able to sell my business and products within a limited timeframe. Since winning the 2017 ENGEN Pitch & Polish, I have pitched my business seven or eight times … and the company has made millions! We have taken our innovations to different parts of the country and particularly into rural communities. What was especially valuable to me were the workshops during the semi-final section and learning how to speak about the business. For me, the experience has been quantifiable – where I was before and where I am now.
I am still applying what I learned during ENGEN Pitch & Polish today and still have my pitch perfect in my head. I have used the same pitch to government ministers and to mayors and it works all the time. The programme has also taught me a lot about handling finances which has given us stability. Of late, when I say that my business is doing well, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the business is making lots of money. It means that the business has the right people and the right systems. It has grown. Everyone in the business knows what they are doing and my turnover has tripled.
I would definitely recommend ENGEN Pitch & Polish to other aspiring entrepreneurs. I know that many entrepreneurs think that the competition is aimed only at extraverts who enjoy public speaking. But if you run a business, you always have to pitch it. Even if you don’t win the competition, by entering you will learn so many valuable things.
If an entrepreneur asked for my advice, I’d tell them to stop focusing on financial growth. Rather focus on business stability. Make sure you have the right systems in place. Having everything in order means your business will run more smoothly and that will attract more clients. The finances will follow.
To Engen Petroleum and Nedbank, I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart! The competition has really changed my life and how I view business. It has made me a much better and stronger entrepreneur. I am very grateful for the experience and the opportunity. I am going to make you proud!