Aghmad Gamieldien grew up in Lansdowne in Cape Town and ventured into pesto making during lockdown. For someone one who did not study agriculture, he sure is doing a lot within the field to mitigate climate change and enhance his business for change.
“Ever since I could remember growing up, we had a garden. No matter where I was staying, somewhere I would always have a garden and growing food,” he says.
Eventually his surroundings brought about a business idea that would change his life in 2020, all while studying towards a master’s degree in transitional justice and human rights.
“I studied international relations at Stellenbosch University, and a master’s degree in transitional justice and human rights,” he says.
In 2020, he completed his master’s in Switzerland and returned home to look for an opportunity to make money. This is when he started using his hidden talents and love for plants.
Where it all began
Before Gamieldien started his pesto business, research was a key point of departure for him, he says. At that point, he was looking at who is doing organic farming in South Africa and how he could contribute to that.
“I started in October 2020 during lockdown in response to food security and climate action.”
With his qualifications, Gamieldien had a holistic human rights approach to starting his business, Mzanzi Organics.
He started with a small rented 5m x 7m-plot in an allotment garden in the Oude Molen Eco Village.
“In the first season [we] grew various crops including basil. [I] took vegetables to my first market in December 2020 including a few jars of homemade pesto. [I] had a positive response to the pesto, [so I] kept returning with pesto to markets. From there the pesto and plant based food range developed into what it is today.”
Some of his most popular products is the basil and cashew nut pesto, blended with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and coarse salt.
Products and services
Mzanzi Organics offers plant-based food and consultation services. Today, he has several loyal customers returning for his amazing pesto.
“I started approaching local delis and shops to stock my product such as the Back Area Gardens in Pinelands,” he says.
The booming effects of social media also played a role in the successful development of Mzanzi Organics. He used Instagram and TikTok to market the brand and he sold more pesto because of that.
“Social media allowed me to reach new customers. Business has grown through social media and currently supplying various food club hubs regularly in Cape Town,” he explains.
The best motivation for Gamieldien is to continue the work and build resilience, importantly he shares some of the principles that he took with him to create his business and bring about positive change.
Gamieldien shares five tips with aspiring agripreneurs:
- Start small with a clear vision.
- Always trust your gut feeling.
- Avoid negative people and people that will talk you out of what you are doing.
- Ask your customers for feedback.
- Document and share your journey.
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