In a recent drive to upskill and empower his farmworkers, regenerative livestock farmer Angus McIntosh of the Farmer Angus brand, sold 85% of his egg business to some of his former employees.
This has made them instant business managers and shareholders in the inspirational venture that is now 51% black women-owned.
The Stellenbosch-based McIntosh has vendor-financed the deal which keeps him focused on making the business a success as he only gets his pay out from the profits of the business. The shareholders are McIntosh, Neliswa Mbengana, Zanele Hlabisa, Mbhekiseni Khoza, Menzi Khoza and Phello Ntlati. The directors are Thobelani Mngomezulu, Mawethu Xamle, Mbhekiseni Khoza, Thabani Lamula, Angus McIntosh and Menzi Khoza, all of whom McIntosh has known since birth as they grew up on the same farm in KwaZulu-Natal.
Based on current profits the business will be paid off in less than four years.
“96% of all eating eggs come from the caged hens,” says Thobelani Mngomezulu, one of the directors at Farmer Angus EGGS. “Our chickens are housed in Eggmobiles, which are moved daily to help fertilize our soil at the farm. We get our chickens to graze on the pastures, which are free of any chemicals, so they can lay the most nutritious eggs. They roam our pastures all day and are only locked up in the Eggmobiles at night for their own protection.”
Furthermore, the chickens are fed with non-GMO food that is especially made for them, says Mngomezulu. “Not only are we producing the healthiest eggs, but we’re also practicing regenerative agriculture which reverses climate change and is good for the soil. As someone who has a deep love for nature I believe that regenerative agriculture is how we can heal the land.”
The Eggmobile has been gaining popularity with other small-scale operations popping up in parts of the country.
Xamle and his wife, Neliswa Mbengana, who is a shareholder, says that being able to own a business is such a good thing for their family as it’s given them a chance to grow. Hlabisa confesses that the most important thing for her is that she can be a part of the business even when she is not on the farm. “Being a shareholder is really a once in a lifetime experience,” she says.
McIntosh started farming at the Spier estate in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape in 2009. He practices regenerative agriculture through the rotational grazing of animals such as pigs, cattle and chickens across the land. “The goal of regenerative agriculture is to produce nutrient dense food, heal the earth and create employment opportunities,” says McIntosh.
A few years ago, Farmer Angus achieved a world first when he was paid carbon credits for increasing the carbon content of the soil in the pastures where the cattle graze.
McIntosh goes on to say, “with the way most farming is done in South Africa, people are not eating the best food they can possibly buy. This is due to the many pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed onto crops and fed to animals.”
One of the major benefits of the shareholding structure is that Farmer Angus EGGS can access government funding, which is currently the only way the business is able to grow nationwide. Being able to scale this business is the ultimate the goal for the new owners.
The Eggmobile has been gaining popularity with other small-scale operations popping up in parts of the country. More recently it received a lot of interest from the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development In a bid to fund and expand the model to other parts of the country, they recently invited Farmer Angus EGGS to design an Eggmobile-based mobile poultry operation that produces 12 000 eggs per day and is fully off grid. The funding for this is still under review, but according to McIntosh all meetings with the department indicate that they are supportive of this initiative.
With unemployment being one of South Africa’s biggest challenges, the outdoor regenerative farming method is an ideal way to address this issue due to it being so labour intensive.
Khoza says, “Being a shareholder in a business has meant I am now able to grow as a person and I’m proud of my new role. I’d like to see more of my friends around the country being empowered in this way and through Checkers we believe this is going to be possible.”
Egg business boosted by Checkers
Leading retailer Checkers is now offering the new owners the opportunity to expand their model nationally. Shoppers looking for “nutritious, outdoor eggs that are beyond free-range and contain no GMO or Glyphosate” will be able to buy Farmer Angus eggs at the following stores in the Western Cape: Constantia Emporium in Constantia and the Checkers in Mill Street in Stellenbosch.
Checkers shoppers can experience a world-first by picking their eggs out of Eggmobiles stationed in store, that McIntosh designed and built in collaboration with 3 Thirds. McIntosh says, “Having a major retailer like Checkers coming on board means that consumers will finally get to eat animal protein that is locally produced and free of harmful substances that can cause damage to our bodies.”