by Mukondeleli Makhwathane

The Sasekisani Primary Co-operative

Something to crow about

The Sasekisani Primary Co-operative's hens produce 16 000 eggs daily
eggs.jpg

With the concept of co-operatives becoming a government priority in the early 2000s, the Department of Local Economic Development embarked on a campaign to encourage communities to form co-operatives, and the Mahonisi community was one of them.

A group of Mahonisi community members, most of whom had teaching diplomas, decided to take their futures into their own hands, and so the Sasekisani Primary Co-operative was born.

Violet Mabasa, one of the founding members and Chairperson of Sasekisani, says that starting a business can be very difficult but, with the help of others, anything is possible.

The business started small in 2003, thanks to a donation of a few chickens by the Department of Agriculture, while the co-operative members personally financed 116 chicken layers. The local chief was kind enough to provide Sasekisani with 18 hectares of land to operate from.

The business was then registered as a co-operative in 2004 with the help of the National Co-operative Association of South Africa.

Thanks to a grant from the Limpopo Business Support Agency, the cooperative was able to pay for chicken coops, electricity, fencing and a borehole. Thereafter, the Department of Trade and Industry gave the cooperative a grant that was used to buy a computer, fridge and cabinets. The Thulamela Local Municipality even helped the cooperative to build a much-needed storeroom.

While the business was steadily growing, it was still battling to make ends meet. An injection from the National Development Agency (NDA) in 2010 helped Sasekisani to grow even faster and achieve more than it could ever have imagined.

The NDA granted the cooperative just over R1.7-million to increase the number of chickens and expand its infrastructure. With the money, Sasekisani paid salaries, bought vital equipment like a 10-ton delivery truck and office equipment, and built an office and ablution block.

Today, Sasekisani has 23 staff members and nearly 20 000 chickens that produce 16 000 eggs daily. The quality of the co-operative’s systems and produce has enabled it to get the stamp of approval from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Quality Management Systems. SAS Eggs, as the co-operative is now marketing itself, is on a mission to supply its customers with healthy, high-quality, free-range eggs and vegetable products at affordable rates on a daily basis.

According to Joseph Khosa, General Manager of the co-operative, business has been booming as it has business agreements in place with all the supermarkets in and around Malamulela, and with major supermarkets as far afield as Thohoyandou, including Pick n Pay and Friendly Supermarket.

“None of this was going to be possible without the NDA funding,” he says. However, the NDA did more than just provide funding; it also offered training to the cooperative members to help them manage their books, develop a proper filing system and market their products.

Thanks to this funding and training, the cooperative’s continued sustainability came to the attention of Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund, which recently granted Sasekisani a loan of R1.7-million to help the enterprising cooperative expand its business even further to satisfy an ever-growing market. With this money, it was able to erect a chicken house for another 12 000 chicks and buy another 12 000 hens.

This is just another increasingly sustainable business that is resulting in the improvement of the lives of many community members touched by the project, thanks to the foresight of the NDA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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