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Chilli Sauce

“Through the programme I learnt that I can even forget working for someone else, and work for myself. I can be a boss of my own”

Mpho, Participant

Written by: Rosie Dupont, Foundation Intern (2021)

Mpho lives with his family, and they have a separately build room beside his house which they use for a variety of things- including marinading chillies. When I visit him for an interview, he walks me through to the room and starts to explain how the chillies are nearly ready to be purified and bottled into chilli sauce, prepared to be sold locally. This is Mphos’ new small business, put simply in his words; “my business is that I’m doing a chilli sauce”. Although just how small is questionable as the estimated amount of bottles of sauce these chillies will make is around 100.

Mpho is working closely with Johann, the project manager for Farmers of the Future, who has created this sauce recipe and has buyers ready to take the bottles once they are ready. A week after our interview I return to Mpho’s place with Johann, to watch him walk Mpho through how to make and bottle the sauce, a simple yet effective process resulting in four ‘practice’ bottles- which look incredibly professional for being made in a small backroom. Mpho beams with pride at the final result, which is why I feel slightly guilty that all of the bottles are then promptly bought off him by me and the current volunteers at the project. This was quickly made up for though by his excitement at receiving the first profits from his hard work- a truly heartwarming moment to experience.

“In the future, I wish to have my own brand, and have my own big farm”.

Mpho started the FotF programme while studying financial management at school and managed to study both simultaneously. The drive and enthusiasm he holds is apparent, and after we chat it’s obvious there’s no doubt from either of us that he will make something out of this business- “through the programme I learnt that I can even forget working for someone else, and work for myself. I can be a boss of my own”. And he’s not holding back, “in the future, I wish to have my own brand, and have my own big farm”.

He’s already explaining to me how he’s going to perfect his own sauce recipe (with different kinds of chillies) and create a name for himself through local advertising in order to gain his own customers. But first, he plans to grow his own chillies. Due to the time of year he graduated the training, it wasn’t possible for this round of sauce so he had to find someone to buy them off, which proved quite difficult. He says this was his biggest challenge, but he already owns land he will plant the chillies in once the season is right, so he’s hopeful that challenge is behind him.

It’s a familiar story now how apprehensive family and friends can be when the participants start the program as there aren’t any stipends for attending. So, it’s no surprise that this situation played out with Mphos’ family, especially as he explains they didn’t have faith that he would finish the programme. He definitely proved them wrong, and he describes that now, “after finishing the programme they are proud and more supportive”, even helping him with his chilli sauce sometimes.

When I ask if he would recommend the program to other people, he excitedly states that he already has. Although there are no stipends, he says he is explaining to his friends that “when going to do the programme, you must not think about money, no. This about the experience and the benefit you will get to the programme”. We start talking about any advice Mpho has for people starting their own business, and he focuses on positive thinking, and working hard. “Base your business on what you want to do, and even if you fail, wake up and do it again. So until you achieve it”.

After watching him make his first bottles of sauce, it’s clear to me that Mpho is following his own advice and doing something that excites him. At the end of the interview, Mpho shows his gratitude for the program by wholesomely adding a thank you to “the people, the ones who thought of starting the great learnership like this one, it was a great idea”.

Find our more about our Farmers of the Future program, here

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