South Africa’s agriculture sector has no less been adversely affected by the prevailing international economic downturn, creating a ripple effect and impacting on the financial wellbeing of farming communities throughout the South African countryside.
The continuous economic onslaught, coupled with a number of socio-political pressures, export bans and unfavourable weather conditions, have forced many agribusinesses to implement severe cost saving strategies, or leaving the industry all together. This has resulted in a large number of job losses in the already strapped farming communities in South Africa.
“Despite the number of adverse conditions facing the agribusiness in South Africa today – or perhaps owing to – we have seen a new breed of female entrepreneurs coming to the fore who are actively striving to contribute to the socio-economic wellbeing of their communities,” says Jannie Rossouw, head of Sanlam Business Market.
Diversity and resilience
“Women in the South African agriculture sector are demonstrating great diversity and resilience through their successful business ventures,” Rossouw says. This was again confirmed by the quality of entries in the prestigious Landbouweekblad/Sanlam Woman Entrepreneur in Agriculture.
Ronel Swart, owner of Africa Silks in Hazyview Mpumalanga, has been announced Landbouweekblad/ Sanlam Woman Entrepreneur in Agriculture for 2011. She was selected from a shortlist of six finalists.
Now in its sixth year, this annual competition rewards innovation among women in the agricultural and rural sector who are not only stimulating the local economy by running successful businesses, but also for the important role they play in job creation and contributing to the welfare of their local communities.
Local efforts rewarded
“We are very pleased with the quality of entries for 2011,” Rossouw says. “Year after year we are inspired by these dedicated women who have managed to overcome economic, infrastructural and social barriers in their efforts to develop opportunities into successful business ventures.
“These are not only financial success stories, but testimonies of faith, determination and an unyielding creative spirit – unique attributes borne by only the most successful entrepreneurs,” he says. “We are proud to be able to recognise their efforts and contributions to the local economy through these awards.”