Alizwa Ngqukumba, 28, believes in uplifting those around her. She began her farming business by saving up money while she worked as a waitress.
She faced many difficulties as a start-up securing funding but managed to use the little she had to build some capital. By growing carrots, beetroot and impepho in one small garden, and selling her produce to hawkers, friends and family, she soon progressed to supplying local supermarkets.
Alizwa now has more land, and two permanent and 10 seasonal employees, and produces and sells her own organic body butters. She has inspired many young black women farmers in her community.
Alizwa helps other farmers gain access to markets and funding opportunities, hosts educational talks and assists unemployed youth to get access to internet facilities so they can start their own businesses.
She is the director of the Iyanimvula Group and began the Alizwa Ngqukumba Foundation, which works with the youth and combats poverty. In addition, she works with the local youth organisations and municipal structures in the OR Tambo district.
She is also the deputy chairperson of Youth in Agriculture and Rural Development and is an executive member of the South African Youth Council in the King Sabata Dalindyebo local municipality.
Alizwa says the best advice she ever received was to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly things seem to be going. She holds a diploma in management from Walter Sisulu University and is pursuing her tertiary education.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Keep moving forward. No matter what the challenge, never stop moving forward, no matter how slow it may be.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
I empower myself by helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Helping people always inspires you to do more for yourself and the community. I hold seminars that empower and inspire women to start their own businesses.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
Change the rapid growth of poverty in our country, especially in rural areas and townships.