#WIB – Q&A With Buyiswa Twala Founder Of Agrigreat Envirocare & Soiltech

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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

Our vision is to make healthy organic GMO Free food accessible to all people in Africa, closing the gap with the aim to decrease malnutrition in Africa through healthy Soil preparation. We as Agrigreat Envirocare & Soiltech specialise in manufacturing and producing organic scientifically formulated fertilisers and composts aimed at reversing the effects of soil degradation and desertification in Africa. Products are manufactured from food waste material, through recycling and processing them along with organic nutrients to benefit soil.

Our products also aim assist start up farmers with no prior farming education in places such as local communities and rural areas, by nutrient specification on all our products.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

In 2020 I was head of agricultural programmes for an NPO where we farmed to feed children and I had just began studying science at the time, and made so many mistakes in soil preparation which is fertilising the soil for planting and I realised this would be easier if these products were scientifically specified for start up farmers without agricultural background. In Tembisa where I worked with children from sensitive backgrounds parents made income from informal farming with no agricultural education. They needed easy organic recycling formulas for home gardens and start up farms and also just being passionate about making Gmo-free food available for all. We officially registered the business and started operating in 2021.

3. What is your role in the business?

My role in the business is that I formulate and create the formulas for the composts and fertilisers, do market research and farming consultations.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

I am currently studying Life and Environmental sciences at Unisa and plan on specialising into biochemistry.

5. How did you finance your business?

I saved up for the business using little allowances from my parents from the beginning and supplied small farmers in the Vaal and it was able to support itself.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

An average working day for me can really vary. Our day to day activities can be different but I’ve learnt as entrepreneur to be flexible and that business in its early stages is not just office work daily, but really varies and you have to be willing to step into all the roles. Some days we have back to back meetings with suppliers, sometimes on zoom meetings and sometimes face to face because I prefer to engage with people face to face. This would mean sometimes travelling out to different farms and engaging with people of different age groups.

Some days its attending agricultural and business trainings because I’ve come to learn you can never know enough. My team and I constantly attend as many trainings as possible no matter how much we grow & how many accolades we achieve. There is always space for more growth through learning and being a life-long learner. When we are not attending trainings and at farms, we are out collecting recyclable food waste from informal settlements, schools, local food establishments and bringing them back on site, fermenting and mixing them.

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life?

By improving my time management skills and really delegating my time and aligning my priorities. I had to understand that I would have to sacrifice certain short term pleasures for a long term benefits but still enjoy the fruits of life. Navigating that balance was hard at first but then I started practicing daily rituals such as meditation and relaxation. I dedicate certain weekends to going out, maintaining my personal relationships with my friends and family, catching up and seeing art galleries, creating art and attending art festivals.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

I’m a foodie, I love eating good food and I get hurt seeing so many children starving daily, suffering from malnutrition. I’m inspired by the idea that I can really change the world and how we see food production. I am inspired by the idea that the whole world should eat, everyone having access to food like in the olden days, a world without hunger and that doesn’t harm the planet is something that I wake up for every morning. . I am driven by humanity and how far we have come as a human race and how far we can go. The idea that we can change our current situations and norms through innovation.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

I have my best ideas when I’m walking, it really helps me generate ideas while I’m walking and doing activities.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

In terms of marketing, I use my networking skills and word of mouth, we are about to launch our website in the coming month to activate our social media.

11. What is next for your business?

We are launching our pit toilet project formula aimed at rural settlements and solving the indigenous sewer system to produce fertiliser.

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

I know it’s really hard at first with the many things the world has to say about us, but reach out to other female founders and create a powerful network of sisterhood. It helps you so much on the journey, to have that understanding of someone who has walked the journey you are about to walk, integrity is your best friend and collaboration over competition.

For more visit: www.soiltech.co.za