We chat to Mmakgobane Fortune Manyathela, a female poultry and piggery Farmer from Lephalale in the Limpopo Province. Mmakgobane wishes she could have explored entrepreneurship at a younger age as she has realised the endless opportunities available out there. Read her inspiring story below.
I grew up in the small town of Ellisras, now known as Lephalale in the Limpopo Province. I’m the 6th child of the eight (8) children of my parents. I started school at Bosveld Primary School and continued to Ellisras Hoerskool. While growing up, I realised that I loved being around people and I wanted to work with them. So After completing my Matric, I went to further my studies at the Tshwane University of Technology where I obtained my National Diploma and B-Tech in Public Relations Management.
Growing up was great! I was a reserved girl from a very strict family, who contributed a lot to my upbringing and was fortunate enough not to succumb to the pressures that we as young girls experience as we transition into young adults. My parents did their all best to give me a better future. The only time in my life where life was difficult was when my father passed away and life had to change drastically and as my mother’s only eldest daughter I had to step up and assist with my siblings and other responsibilities in the family.
Upon my graduation, things were generally not that difficult as I was fortunate to secure an internship but after my internship contract lapsed, I got a job as a client liaison. This role assisted me a lot in exploring how I worked well with people and it taught me a lot of interpersonal skills and being empathetic.
My path changed when I fell pregnant and I then decided to start a backyard poultry farming project, Naledi eggs & chicken farm to sustain my income while I was on maternity. It opened a whole new adventure and that's where I took the decision to resign from my full-time job and pursue this new business venture not knowing it would even open bigger opportunities.
I now work as Community Relations Officer for Anglo American Platinum Mine, which even exposed me to working with people daily. This harnessed my people’s skills and put me in a position to want to serve the people. Realising how people entrust you to make their lives better or inspire them adds on a whole level of completeness and happiness.
The biggest challenges I have ever faced is, juggling between a full-time job (Back-to-back meetings), running a backyard poultry and piggery farming project and being a breast-feeding mother. At times the pressure at work would be so intense, dealing with protesting demanding community members, going home to breast-feed and ensuring that all operational needs are met for the poultry and piggery project. During all those pressures, I could perform my professional role and still have satisfied clients. Drive, love, and commitment to get things done are what kept me going.
Best highlights are being a mother, having come this far in my career and having explored the possibility of being a female poultry and piggery farmer. I am proud I took risks and resigned from a full-time job, as it allowed me to realise and unleash my full potential and face the unknown and knowing that I am woman enough to be a strong force that I am today. I am also in the process of transitioning into a new frontier that sees me growing more into my career.
What, in your opinion, are the most important factors to keep in mind to make it in your career or life in general?
One needs to know what he/she wants in life and to also understand that in this journey of your life you need to do things that fulfill you first. Hard work is the only way to get things achieved, and always know that if you don’t take risks, you will never unleash your full potential. Don’t live by the rules and succumb to peer pressure. Run your own race.
In the next three years, I would like to see myself having persuaded a Masters qualification and having gained enough experience to move to a managerial position. My next plan is to put the right business structures in place and move my poultry and piggery project to bigger heights.
This means I need to put more hard-work and save funds that will get me all the structures in place including piggery houses and more.
If there was anything you could do differently, what would it be?
To have explored entrepreneurship after my internship contract ended, I think the potential has always been there but then I was young and afraid to take risks. Now I know the world is full of endless opportunities, nothing can stop me or deter me from achieving what I set my mind to.
Are there any specific people or organisations that you look up to and draw inspiration from and why?
Yes, my mother, she has been a great motivator and someone who has inspired me a lot. Considering all that she went through, becoming a widow with seven (7) children, juggling between her full-time job as an educator and being a full-time livestock farmer. The way she has it all under control has inspired me to know that there are no limits in life, you just have to give it your best.
Are there any inspiring projects which you’re involved in?
Currently, on a professional note working as Community Relations Officer for Mogalakwena Platinum Mine exposes me to community projects, ploughing back to the community through community development initiatives where I am actively involved.
Lastly, what advice would you give to others out there looking to follow in your footsteps?
Things fall into place and you must never give up in life. You can take your career/life to bigger heights if you believe you can. Never let anyone tell you that you can never achieve what you set or believe you can achieve. Take more calculated risks and face the unknown. Believe you are a force!
How can the public contact you?
Facebook: Mmakgobane Manyathela
Business Facebook page: Naledi eggs & chicken farm
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story with our community, Mmakgobane. What a force you are! All the best in your life and business. God bless!
If you would also like to see your inspirational story published in our publication, email: firstname.lastname@example.org