Discover the inspiring tale of Mapula Kgosi, turning tree by-products into an empire, one fire starter at a time. She is among the women selected for a year-long blended development programme by Corteva Agriscience and the GIBS Entrepreneurship Academy.
Mapula Kgosi started a new business capitalising on her interest in trees after her ice-cube business failed, and she now supplies biomass fire starters and briquettes to various retail outlets, turning it into a thriving empire.
As one of the agripreneurs participating in the sought-after Corteva Agriscience Women Agripreneur Programme, she is on a mission, determined to elevate her business game as a #SoilSista.
Starting her own fire
Kgosi is a strategic thinker, always focused on her next brilliant move. After her unsuccessful ice-cube venture, she had to think outside the box.
“I started searching and came up with the idea of buying and reselling charcoal. Over time, I ventured into firewood,” she tells Food For Mzansi.
Soon after, Kgosi explored the business potential of fire starters. She explains that chopping firewood often resulted in a carpet of sawdust, and they didn’t know what to do with it. “That’s how we came up with the idea of fire starters.”
Sawdust is an excellent material for making fire starters because it is highly flammable and easily ignites. “We needed a product that is not health hazardous, so that’s the reason why we chose the waste (sawdust) from the trees.”
Branching out to success
Since her humble beginnings, Kgosi has evolved into a promising businesswoman. Today, her eco-friendly products make cooking and starting fires seem effortless, turning even the most daunting tasks into a breeze.
Participating in the Corteva Agriscience Programme has provided a nurturing environment where Kgosi can dream big and reach for the stars. She looks forward to planting her own trees on her farm in North West. She has already identified suitable land for this purpose.
“We’ve learned that trees are not just firewood. There are many more products that you can extract from trees. You can also obtain a product that can be used to clean leather. There’s also mulch for gardens.
“So, a tree is not just a tree; you can get a whole range of by-products from a tree,” she says.
Levelling up with Corteva Agriscience
Kgosi believes her #SoilSista journey has equipped her with the tools and support she needed to take control of her business destiny.
“I don’t want to let the year pass without taking actions that benefit me,” she says, emphasising her commitment to self-improvement on an annual basis.
“The programme is teaching me a lot about how to run my business, deal with employees, and delegate.”
As Kgosi forges her path in the forestry sector, discovering opportunities in every tree, she stands as proof that from the ashes of a failed business, a new chapter of personal growth and success can emerge.
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