Rea Jala Veggies & Dee-Y Farming
Nozipho Soka, 35, is a farmer and entrepreneur, who is passionate about contributing towards food security, poverty alleviation and building healthy communities. She is the founder and managing director of Rea Jala Veggies and director of Dee-Y Farming.
Rea Jala Veggies produces quality vegetables using modern farming methods such as drip irrigation and shade nets. Nozipho and her family also run the dairy farm started by her mother, which supplies Ayrshire milk to Woolworths. She has a foundation that teaches children at orphanages and schools how to plant trees.
She has plans to host schoolchildren on day trips to their family farm, where they will get first-hand exposure to a mixed farm, to encourage more children to pursue agriculture as a career. Nozipho, who has an MBA from Wits University, completed the Africa Agriculture Qualification with GIBS and AGCO, as a Top Achiever. She was selected as one of five South African finalists in the Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton competition by Access Bank.
“I am passionate about contributing to food security. The statistics around food security are very concerning, 20.4% (approximately 7.8 million) South Africans are said to be food insecure, with this number expected to grow exponentially over the coming years. Any contribution I can make towards mitigating this drives me on a daily basis,” Nozipho says.
- Master in Business Administration, Wits Business School
- Africa Agriculture Qualification, Gibs Business School
- Postgraduate Diploma in Agribusiness, London Academy of Professional Training
- Postgraduate Diploma in Management and Business Administration, Wits Business School
- Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences, Wits University
- Receiving the Top Achiever award with an aggregate of 93% for the Africa Agriculture Qualification.
- USADF Grant Recipient. Recognised and awarded $10 000 in catalytic seed funding as a promising African woman graduate from the African Women Entrepreneurship program.
- Being selected as a South African finalist in the Women-preneur Pitch-a-Ton Access Bank Competition. Receiving best Group Action Learning Project presentation. (The project focused on addressing challenges faced by emerging farmers.)
- Being selected to participate in the Academy of Women Entrepreneurship by the US Embassy and AWIEF.
- Selected as 1 of 20 students to complete a fully-funded Agricultural programme with GIBS and Harper University aimed at preparing African youth for agricultural transformation.
- Selected as 1 of 88 female agribusiness entrepreneurs out of 1 400 applicants in Africa to partake in the Ignite Guzakuza Agribusiness programme.
- Graduating from Wits Business School with an MBA. (Research paper on the effectiveness of government funding initiatives towards emerging farmers in South Africa.)
- Growing the business to a point of being able to empower youth and women by employing local youth and women community members and equipping them with farming skills.
A childhood memory that drives me is the memory of my mother, an unstoppable, resilient woman. She decided to leave her teaching job to pursue entrepreneurship at a time when entrepreneurship was largely frowned upon, especially among females. I have memories of her working tirelessly, travelling in the early hours of the morning and coming home very late. She worked for years, facing many challenges but she persevered. She left the comfort of a salary to build something from scratch. Her courage and determination, despite many challenges, motivate me.
I would advise my younger self to be patient with myself, to know that everything will work out as it should, and to try to be less anxious about the future. I would tell myself to take the time to live in the moment, and really be present, instead of constantly worrying about what the future holds. Finding a healthy balance between enjoying the present and working toward the future I envision for myself. I would also advise myself to take the time to celebrate my milestones, no matter how small.
I would like to see a South Africa that prioritises agriculture. Agriculture is not only essential to the economic development of a country but is central to eradicating unemployment, poverty and hunger. I would like to see a more inclusive and equitable agriculture sector that looks to empower emerging farmers. I hope to see a considerable increase in commercial farmers in five years. I hope to see targeted support initiatives that speak to the needs of farmers. I would like to see more collaboration between farmers, including collaboration between commercial and emerging farmers.
I would also like to see agriculture being reintroduced in schools at primary and high school level. I would like to see more youths considering a career in agriculture.