‘Potatoe King’ bags R100k in the Firstwatch Entrepreneurs Challenge

THE 2022 annual Firstwatch Entrepreneurs Challenge winner is Siyabonga Ndlela.

The KwaZulu Natal born walked away with a cool R100 000 for his potatoes farming business of which he intends to grow and diversify.

Expressing enthusiasm after being grilled by esteemed judges, he said he’s going to invest and possibly diversify his business.

Catching his breath Siya told SLM during interview:” It’s a bit surreal. A lot of hardwork and time investment was put into winning this competition, so are my competitors who all deserve a win. It’s never easy on competitions,” he said.

The (31) says since he started the business some years’ ago after an encouragement from his late grandfather, he did not look back.

Although by profession he’s an engineer, the love bug of farming potatoes has bitten and there’s no turning back, because, according to him, both farming and engineering go hand in glove.

“For me its love more than anything. I love and respect farming because it gives one responsibility and sense of ownership. I and my community, we try by all means to curb the scourge of food scarcity in my area by producing more potatoes and this loot will help me to purchase more equipment’s, hire more staff and increase productivity,” says the bucket-sweating Siya, from Impendle, a cold area outside Drakensberg Mountains in KZN.

The ‘Potatoe King’ as he’d preferred to be called described how he entered the competition in November 2021, after a friend of his saw the competition on the Firstwatch bottle.       

“He did not enter but I did after searching the length and breadth of the province for a promotional Firstwatch Whisky 1litre bottle. I took that liberty and coming from a rural area were network is a major problem, but that one special day I received a call from the promoters telling me my application was considered. Yes, the angels were jostling for me thanks to my late grand-father.

Today, here I am with this cool prize,” says the ‘Potatoe King’ who also farm pigs and cattle’s with family of five- both parents and three brothers.

Fortunately, the farm was not impacted by the pandemic as ‘people need to eat’ as they came in droves from all corners of ‘my province’ to support him in the form of buying, he says.

 “I’m very proud of this initiative as I believe that entrepreneurs are a cornerstone of driving communities they operate in and without support for budding entrepreneurs, even the most resilient company can fail. This affects not only the entrepreneurs income but also the communities that rely on them financially and as a source of inspiration,” says Bongi Matsolo, senior brand manager-Edward Snell & Co. Brown & White Spirits.   

The reveal was made at the popular establishment Disoufeng, Meadowlands in Soweto on Sunday evening. Siyabonga (we thank him as the name suggests) outsmarted Phumzile Mthembu (Tembisa) and Zethu Nyali, respectively.

Image Mdu Mphahlele ( Emotional. Siyabonga Ndlela from Ndlela Agri Group with his R100k prize at the reveal in Soweto).

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