Members of the Lambasi Tribal Council
“It gave us the opportunity as women to contribute to running our homes and working our land – and showing men that we could.”
Like other traditional communities, the Lambasi have lived on collectively owned land since long before Europeans came to South Africa. Although their land is rich, they have been unable to access commercial loans, largely because South African law prohibits using traditional land as collateral. This makes it difficult for them to grow to the scale required to enter mainstream markets. For such communities, guarantees are useful for unlocking credit to modernize farming practices and increase the land that can be cultivated
A South African fruit farm is changing lives and markets.
“Five years ago I came to this farm as a seasonal worker to learn,” recalls 27-year-old Zanele Mkokeli. “And I have learned a lot.” Today Zanele supervises 20 women pruning grape vines and cultivating orange trees at Rietkloof Farm in the Western Cape’s lush Piketberg Valley. She is also a member of the cooperative that now owns the farm. A generation ago this would have been unthinkable, as nearly all the Western Cape’s fruit farms were owned by whites. Most still are. But in recent years the South African government has purchased properties as they came on the market, and then leased them to new black owners.
Member of AfricaWorks Mozambique
“When I see my sister plant, I plant with her,” she said. “When she weeds, I weed with her. And when it is time for the harvest, we all help. We never leave anyone alone.”
While most of Shared Interest’s 22-year history has focused on unlocking credit and boosting capacity in South Africa’s low-income communities of color, the organization has moved strategically with its South African partner, Thembani, to expand their work into Swaziland and Mozambique. At year’s end Shared Interest‘s guarantee to AfricaWorks Mozambique provided access to credit for micro-entrepreneurs in Maputo, Inhambane and Gaza Provinces. It also made loans available to smallholder farmers working one hectare of land each, along with the opportunity to share labor, tools, technical assistance and markets.
Martha Nkhoma and Mary Banda
"Over the years, I have learned persistence. And
persistence has become a way of life..."
Martha Nkhoma is a founding member of African Women in Agribusiness, an association of women seed company entrepreneurs who have joined together to form a single, more competitive entity that can produce and sell affordable, high-protein, drought-resilient local seed. These entrepreneurs need funds to purchase their growers’ harvest, including the seed produced by Mary Banda, a farmer from Chiphamba Village, Kasungu District, Malawi. From lenders’ perspective, however, AWAB has three strikes against it: it is a new business, it is owned and run by women of color, and it relies on smallholder farmers as suppliers as well as customers. Shared Interest is working with AWAB to overcome banks’ risk aversion and bias, and obtain the capital it needs to scale its seed business and serve tens of thousands of Malawian farmers.