When Zwelinzima Mkhuzangwe started his MegaRoss Project, a livestock farming business in 2015, he had one goal in mind: to provide job opportunities and to see his community thrive. He now employs three permanent employees on his 3.5-hectare farm in Ventersdorp in North West, and has a vision to grow even further.
Mkhuzangwe founded MegaRoss Projects after he was expelled in his third year of nursing school for behavioural misconduct. “I was receiving a stipend, so instead of being miserable at home, I spent my remaining stipend money to purchase twenty broiler chickens as a start-up for my business.”
But this misfortune set him on a path that would change his life forever. It all started with a dream to grow 20 broiler chickens to 500 000 chicks, but has now culminated into a mixed farming enterprise farming with goats, sheep, poultry, and pigs.
‘Couldn’t shake the farm bug’
Mkhuzangwe studied chemical engineering at the Vaal University of Technology in 2011, but soon dropped out due to financial challenges.
“In 2012, I joined the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) but I was dissatisfied just after the six months of training,” he says. “Following that, I received a bursary from the department of health in the province of North West to study nursing.”
His nursing career at the Excelsius Nursing College was cut short when he forged his superior’s signature on a form during his in-service training. This was a mistake he still regrets today.
“It is not something I take pride [in],” he says. “I credit my own experiences – good and bad – for moulding the person I am today. It taught me a valuable lesson, and experience is the finest teacher. In other words, I’m glad I went through the trauma of being kicked out of school as it’s taught me to embrace failure and strive again.”
He looked to agriculture for his salvation and founded MegaRoss Projects in 2015 with just 20 broilers.
“I focused on my business full time. I then pushed the company forward, learning about the illnesses to which the chicks are most likely to be exposed, as well as their ventilation and shading systems. I appreciate Google and the support of other farmers on social media for the shared content, it has been very useful for my business.”
Mkhuzangwe tells Food For Mzansi that his journey has been one of great success. When he started, he sold live and processed chicks to locals and surrounding markets. The market expanded each day to the point where he could purchase two sheep in 2017, and soon other livestock followed.
“I purchased four goats in 2018 and 12 piglets in 2021.”
Building a booming business
Mkhuzangwe sells his livestock for African rituals, and as processed meat products to locals and shops in Ventersdorp.
December holidays are especially profitable, he explains, as there is a big demand for animals to slaughter at family gatherings.
With the growing demand for chicks every weekend, he hired three workers at the beginning of March this year.
“I haven’t arrived at my ultimate goal just yet, but I’m making progress. In 2021, I bought 3.5 hectares of land for my business. So, at least my company is now operating on its land after operating at my home’s backyard for five years.”
Being a farmer is Mkhuzangwe’s passion. He says that he had been uncertain for years as to whether he would be able to begin, but as soon as an opportunity presented itself, he began farming and everything fell into place.
“I would want to advise aspiring agripreneurs to keep in mind that this industry is in high demand. Food is a need; therefore, you must choose what your environment needs most and get started.”
Mkhuzangwe says that learning on the go is doable, but cautions that overthinking might lead to procrastination.
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