BBL PARTICIPANT: Bra J (Jabulani) Skosana, Bundu Village, Mpumalanga
In a Nutshell
Through his participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Jabulani Skosana from Bundu Village in Mpumalanga learnt gardening and business skills that he has used to grow his pre-existing entrepreneurial activities. He has a clear, comprehensive plan for future business growth.
Farming is a business. You plant and sell to buy other things. My wife works in Pretoria and comes home every two weeks. She used to come home to empty cupboards, but not anymore. Now, each time she comes home she finds the cupboards full of all the things we need – sugar, tea, it’s all here.
Growing and selling vegetables is a business for me but I also do it to help my community. I sell to make money but also because I want to improve the quality of life in Bundu. Through the food gardens in Bundu, the community has access to cheap, delicious vegetables and fruit. They don’t need to spend money on transport to go to town.
I think it was the healthy food that kept us strong during Covid. This community stayed quite healthy, very few people died. I think that is in part because we had easy access to fresh vegetables.
I have a garden at my house and another one at the clinic. The nurses encourage their patients to buy from me because they say my products promote good health. Especially the older people with high blood pressure. The older people like the Chinese style spinach with that nice bitter, peppery taste. Patients can come into the garden, point at what they want, and I can sell it to them. By the time they get it home it is still so fresh. I think fresh like that tastes better and has more vitamins.
I also sell to the ladies who run the school feeding schemes. In the MyFood training we learnt all about the food robot and the importance of different colours. I grow the whole Food Robot in my garden. I am sure that when the children eat all the colours, they get better marks at school. They are the next generation so we must make sure that they eat healthy food, not just chips and sweets.
"They don't let you fail."
My side hustle is selling traditional Ndebele skins for rituals and ceremonies. I process hides from goats and rooibok (impala) and springbok. Initiates and people going to weddings and funerals buy them. For an initiate to have the right skins costs about R200 – R350. It’s good business. People buy all year round.
I have been doing this business for many years, but through the BBL training I have become better at managing the money that comes in. I am saving for a JoJo tank for my garden at home. I have one for the house, but it is not enough for the needs of a home and a garden. We need a second one. Municipal water is sometimes here, and sometimes not, so it is important to have a plan for the times when the water doesn’t flow from the taps.
What I like about SocioTech is the consistency. They say start small and let us support you to grow over time. They mentor you. They don’t let you fail. If you have a problem, there is someone to talk to. You get more confident each time. Things go well and success breeds more success.
Other projects start big things and promise so much but then they go away and when you have a problem there is no one to turn to. People see failure and that discourages others. Especially young people. They don’t trust easily. They need to see those successes before they are willing to try. It’s that support that makes the difference – no good getting everyone excited and then crushing that when you don’t support.