From a herdboy in the fields near Heilbron in the Free State to an entrepreneur focusing on farm infrastructure maintenance and provision in the greater Kroonstad area. This is the story of Lengau Mothiane – a story of a boy who moved from the fields to the classroom, and later established his very own business supplying essential services to farmers in South Africa.
Currently, Mothiane’s company, Horizon Southern Group, employs 20 people from the community where he grew up.
He says, “We are helping other farmers and our community. It is a privilege to help people from my own community and the Kroonstad area. I can provide good honest employment to the young people. It keeps them from the streets and helps them to also provide for their families.”
Mothiane not only provides them with a job, but also with a learning opportunity. He considers the transfer of skills as important as getting a job.
The Horizon Southern Group is currently responsible for many of the infrastructure projects on the Edenville farm of Nick Serfontein, chairman of the Sernick Group and former member of pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s panel on land reform and agriculture.
Mothiane and his team also operate in the greater Kroonstad and Heilbron areas, but it was on Serfontein’s farm that Mothiane’s life took an upward turn.
He has herded his family’s cattle since he was a boy and always wanted to be a farmer like his mother, Mmamoliehi Mothiane. In 2016, she attended a farmers’ course on the Sernick farm which gave birth to many new opportunities.
Inspired by his mother’s farming journey
Mothiane was inspired by what his mother learned and the difference the course made on their own farm. He desperately wanted to have the same opportunity. Patrick Sekwatlakwatla, a representative of the Sernick Emerging Farmers’ programme, then invited Mothiane to also attend the programme.
Mothiane says, “It was a comprehensive course looking at the planting of crops, general animal health, vaccination, dehorning and breeding, but also at the technical support services that farmers need. It opened an entire new world for me – a gap for a sustainable business in the agricultural sector. The training gave me valuable exposure on every level of farming.”
“From a farm–dweller, I grew into a business owner and entrepreneur.” – Lengau Mothiane
The Sernick Emerging Farmers’ programme is hosted in partnership with the Jobs Fund and divided into three categories. Up-and-coming black farmers are recruited, trained, set up and provided with supply opportunities through integration into Sernick’s value chain.
The farmers are formally admitted into the programme, starting out in tier one, from which they move onto tiers two and three. All the participants are given AgriSETA accredited training and an opportunity to exchange their old stock with good quality cattle that fetch higher prices at the market.
During the course the attendees are equipped with technical skills to enable them to develop their own herds, while maintaining a healthy cash flow to meet their working capital requirements. As the farmers progress in the course, they are not only taught practical animal husbandry skills, but also how to practically establish and grow a commercial entity with their own reproductive herd capacity.
With this initiative, the aim is to not only empower emerging farmers, but also to create sustainable jobs within communities. Therefore, the tier three farmer will not only have to create a sustainable employment opportunity for him or herself, but also for three assistants.
Volunteering in community
Mothiane was top of his class, but during the course identified a gap in the market for support services. He started off by volunteering in his community, helping with vaccinations, dehorning and general animal health care. He also started fixing windmills, fences and building animal pens.
While doing this, Mothiane realised there is a great opportunity in the provision of support services to farmers.
He established and registered Horizon Southern Group to focus on aspects such as the erection and fixing of fences, building animal pens and other holding facilities, and fixing windmills. He recently also expanded into the world of solar panels to pump water.
“For me it was a special journey,” Mothiane says.
“From a farm–dweller, I grew into a business owner and entrepreneur who now manages my finances as well as people. I want to thank oom Nick from the Sernick Group for this opportunity. Because of him and his team, I can support my family and contribute in the community.
“Not only did I learn many new things about farming, but they helped me to open my own business and assisted me with to learn all the necessary skills to operate a business such as mine.”
Lengau is married with two children, Rethabile (10) and Mmatsimo (7). His hard work is done with an eye on their future. “Although I still farm, my children will one day be part of this family business. This is my legacy to them,” he proudly says.