B.Ed graduate turned farmer creates jobs for disadvantaged schools

A graduate with a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) from Durban University of Technology, Mbali Bengu is creating more agricultural jobs for disadvantaged people in her village of Mfulamhle, Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal.

Bengu owns a vegetable farm, K’saselihle Fresh Vegetables in her hometown and since its inception in 2019 has managed to permanently employ six locals and occasionally offers short-term contracts to other unemployed locals.

As her business grows, she plans to employ more people as she feels there are many unemployed people in her village, facing poverty.

“The permanent six are people who came to see me and asked for a job. These are people, who come from very poor backgrounds, where you have a large family that depends on child welfare money. Some are people who used to do people’s laundry. When you hear their story, you realize that they really needed this job. My wish is to create more jobs for people as I understand their pain,” Bengu said.

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Last year in 2021, she spent the whole year supplying fresh vegetables, mainly spinach and cabbage to Umzimkhulu SuperSpar and also managed to supply a local supermarket, Macksons.

This year, she is focusing on growing sugar beans and butternut, and luckily for her, she already has a market for her business. It will provide schools with power systems.

“There’s this thing called crop rotation, I can’t plant the same vegetables in the same area over and over again. This year, I plant sugar beans and butternut, so that the soil regains its strength. My wish is to end up having my own branded vegetables and to be able to supply other supermarkets in towns near my home,” Bengu said.

Speaking briefly about her love for agriculture, Bengu said that when she was young, she worked on local farms during school vacations. This is where she developed her passion for growing vegetables.

“I come from a disadvantaged family, where we had to work from an early age. We would go to farms near our homes and look for temporary jobs in order to put food on the table. They sometimes paid us with a crate of tomatoes and it made me realize that if they can afford to give a crate of tomatoes to each worker, that means they earn a lot from farming,” Bengu said.

What she likes the most about this kind of business is the fact that it is a lifelong business, because people eat vegetables every day.

One of the challenges she currently faces is not having her own transportation as she has to rely on other people’s transportation.

This sometimes causes her to deliver her orders late and makes her seem unreliable to her customers. Currently, she cannot afford to buy her own van for deliveries, but hopes that as her business grows, she can come up with a plan.