The secret sauce of successful agri business partnerships

Thabo Dithakgwe, one of South Africa’s youngest commercial farmers.

Perhaps the secret sauce to developing a long-lasting business relationship lies in teamwork, says Juan Louw, a Northern Cape sheep farmer. He grew his business after partnering with a friend and former fellow club rugby player, Demetrius Sas.

Together they raise sheep in Carnarvon, a remote town in the Karoo. Louw is featured on the latest edition of Food For Mzansi’s weekly podcast called Farmer’s Inside Track. It can be heard on most of the world’s leading podcast platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

“We thought if we want to go bigger, we have to put something together. We sat together and made a plan. After a while, we decided to do it. We hired some land. One thing led to another. It’s a few years later and we’re still going strong,” says Louw (29).

Juan Louw, a Northern Cape sheep farmer.

The Carnarvon duo have since faced many trials together, including the Karoo’s worst drought in 100 years. Not only do they equally share the responsibilities, burdens and triumphs, they also share the challenge of getting financial assistance to grow their farming business.

Louw says their business would not have grown were it not for his partnership with Sas (32). “Before we partnered up, we had the same goals. We spoke about the same things. We had the same ambition and a shared love for sheep farming in the Karoo. I like listening to him, and he had good advice as someone who (previously) did everything on his own. Both of us were upcoming farmers with the same struggles, and we also have our own personal ambitions.”

The trick is to lay ground rules to stimulate a successful partnership, he adds. “If you partner has more ambition than you have, then you know you’re on the right path. When I think I work hard… then Demetrius just works harder. He has more ambition than I have – more love for the Karoo, sheep and our people too. That’s our glue, but if you have a partner that just wants to ride on your back then it’s not going to work. We are so driven to succeed.”

Also featured in the Farmer’s Inside Track podcast is North West farmer Thabo Dithakgwe who says Food For Mzansi’s earlier article about his agricultural journey even opened doors for him with pres. Cyril Ramaphosa. This week Farmer’s Inside Track club members have selected as Agbiz economist Wandile Sihlobo’s Finding Common Ground: Land, Equity and Agriculture as their book of the week.

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