Women in Agriculture: Nomonde Ncongwane - founder and MD, Mvila Meat

In 2019, Nomonde Ncongwane founded Mvila Meat as an agro-processing company out of her desire, curiosity and interest in agriculture. Even though this is Nomonde's first business to start and manage, she has been familiar with farming since childhood. She developed a passion for farming as a result of growing up in a farming environment surrounded by grandparents who were and still are farmers themselves.   

"As a young girl, I didn't spend much time thinking about what my dream job would be," she says. "I have always known I would be an entrepreneur. I never thought I would be a commercial farmer, but I knew that I would always be a farmer."

About Mvila Meat 

Like many young farmers, Nomonde had to find a way to make her dream a reality. Since she wanted to raise animals, she needed investors/shareholders.  

"I was fortunate enough to have shareholders eager to invest and take a risk on farming as an investment," she shares. (how did you find the shareholders?)

Nomonde breeds chickens, cattle, and pigs at Mvila Meat. She says she's more passionate about these three kinds of animals because they're interactive and profitable. At the farm, she uses organic methods, which means she doesn't inject hormones into any of the animals, and she feeds them soil-grown plants.

"I have changed my breeding cattle model temporarily; it was doing well just not profitable at the time. And all products are doing pretty well for the season," she says. 

As farm operations manager, she oversees her two full-time employees and ensures that everything runs smoothly.

"I am fully involved in everything, including injecting, feeding, cleaning the pens, disinfecting, washing the animals, buying feed, and selling," she says. "Simply put, I am employed by the company. 

Additionally, she manages animal records and handles social media advertising. 

"I record all the vaccine dates, when the animals are due to farrow, and when their calves are due, so I can keep track of any changes in their health," she says. In addition to word-of-mouth, our business has benefited from extensive social media exposure and networking. We mostly sell online, as well as on the farm. 

Lessons Learned

Nomonde has learned that starting a farm without funding requires experience, skills and a ready market. 

"While experience can be valuable, you cannot succeed without passion, she shares. "For this reason, experience and passion should go together. Passion without skill can be extremely costly, and passion without skill can result in a failed production."

Although she does not have a mentor in the farming community, Nomonde believes in continuous learning. According to Nomonde, even if you don't start out educated, you should find courses to empower yourself. Education is key and the more you know, the more money you will make.

"The importance of education for farmers cannot be overstated, she says. "Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more money you can make. To keep learning, I always do my own research and volunteer whenever possible in areas where I can contribute and benefit." 

Facing Challenges

One of her challenges has been finding the right funding and hiring the right people. Nomonde says she's learned to rely heavily on her faith in God.

"While things sometimes seem to make no sense, God's Grace and strength encourages me to go forward, knowing that His plans are always bigger than my challenges," she says. 

She is also motivated by the words of encouragement she receives from her family, her friends, and the members of her community. 

"The community me to keep up the good work and to keep doing the excellent job I'm doing, and they let me know they are proud of me, she says. "As a result of this advice, I want to continue to work hard and remain committed to producing the best I can in this generation."

Advice to Women Farmers

For those women interested in farming, she encourages them to learn the craft from a farmer or through education. 

"Don't learn on the job, she says. You might fail and become discouraged if you do, and you will lose money as a result. Save some money while you are learning to have some of your start up money."

When she faces difficulties, Nomonde says she does her best to resolve them. However, if she is still unable to do so, then she trusts in God and asks for wisdom. She tackles the problem again the next day with renewed energy and determination.

"It is important to seek God's guidance, and to be willing to try new ways of doing the same thing," she says. "Seek out professional advice or experienced expert advice from others in the same field. You shouldn't let farming completely control your life. It's okay to take a break. You are doing the best that you can with what you have. Stay resilient, it will pay off eventually."

Parting Words

When she's not working at the farm, Nomonde says she takes the time to relax. 

"I take a break as often as I need to and I make sure I do whatever brings me joy at the time," she says.

Her future plans include the expansion of all operations, increasing stock, learning more about meat processing, and opening an agricultural training center.

You can get in touch with Nomdonde via Instagram and Facebook or email: nomonde@mvilameat.co.za.