Thursday, 09 September 2021

Alumna makes her mark in agriculture sector

TALENTED: Keatlegile Mnguni TALENTED: Keatlegile Mnguni

Alumna Keatlegile Mnguni is making her mark in the male-dominated agriculture sector.

The young entrepreneur manages her family’s farming operation in Bronkhorstspruit and last year was elected as the African Farmers Association of South Africa’s (AFASA) youth chairperson.

She graduated in 2018 with a National Diploma in Hospitality Management: Food and Beverage and worked at a retirement home as a food and beverage assistant manager for a few months then as a chef at a lodge while spending her free days on the farm. She also baked cakes and cupcakes for extra income.

Mnguni eventually decided to leave the food and beverage industry and work on the farm full-time.

“In the beginning, it was quite frustrating because being the only woman on the farm doing technical work, my father was picky about what he involved me in. This frustrated and annoyed me. To him, I was his little girl. Then I knew I had to fight my way to earn my place for him to take me seriously and, with the help of my mother, with an understanding from a woman, she played a big role by constantly encouraging me and supporting me,” she says.

“As a young woman in the industry I used to feel intimidated by the male dominance of the industry and being looked down on by men in the industry. That would instil fear, touch on my confidence and self-esteem. I would underestimate my ability to be a good role player in the agribusiness. But being surrounded by other young female farmers and older female farmers, other female role players with industry experience, I derived my confidence from there.”

 In 2019 she was the youth representative of AFASA in Gauteng and was later nominated to take over the role as chairperson.

“I was honoured, I could not believe that an organisation such as AFASA would believe in me, find me capable of a leader and entrusted me to fulfil this role. I make my mistakes and l learn from them. I have a great supporting team from the organisation.

She said her role as AFASA youth chair is to understand the challenges that Young farmers are faced with nationally and provide a platform for them to engage with the relevant stakeholders to assist them to adhere to their needs

“This platform is then given by having roadshows, district workshops, nationally and our Annual Young Farmers Summit.” 

She has many fond memories of her time at CPUT.

This includes having a close relationship with lecturers Beverley Seager and Kate Lategan “who really understood my dream of merging food and beverage with agriculture”.

“They motivated, advised, encouraged and played an important role in shaping the person that I am today. They believed in me. “

Other highlights were leading and participating in organising the food and beverage part of the open day in her third year and getting a leadership award from her classmates on their last day before work-integrated learning started.

Written by Ilse Fredericks