By Bongiwe Zwane-Maseko
There is nothing as draining as slaving for hours over a stove at the end of a long day of work! Most people want to come home from work and prepare a quick, but nutritious meal in minutes.
Farm Girl has provided a solution by selling pre-cooked frozen beans, offering families a quick solution to their meal options. Besides the convenience, they have spared consumers the costs of cooking, which take up a lot of electricity units and time! People can get home after work and prepare quick soups, tasty stews, and a quick nutritious addition to good, old samp in a matter of minutes. The frozen 1kg beans are available at Buy ‘n Save Spar in Mbabane and The Saverite Ritz Supermarket for E25.
The brain behind the brand Nolwazi Manana-Dlamini is a self-made entrepreneur, who shares her journey with us;
When was Farm Girl established?
Farm Girl was formally registered in 2020 but the business idea itself was conceived in 2019 unfortunately when it was about to kick off, we were hit by Covid 19 and therefore I was forced to halt my plans.
Why did you decide to start this type of business – what were you responding to?
When a business is started it has to respond to the needs of the people by addressing a gap in the market, and Farm Girl’s Cooked Beans range is to serve convenience! Beans are a healthy source of protein but they come with the disadvantage of taking very long to cook thus Farm Girl Beans offers the consumer the convenience of already cooked beans; saving you time and money.
What was your first objective when you founded your business?
It is amazing how when people see the face behind the brand they are always surprised because unfortunately, society marginalises people based on gender and appearance. One of the business objectives, therefore, was to break that bias. Yes! I am a woman and I have a passion for agriculture and food processing. Also, we are currently in an eco-system where women are encouraged to dig deep within themselves, realize their potential, and act on it and this is what Farm Girl hopes to become; a reference point for encouragement for other women and women-led businesses, especially in the agricultural sector. The first objective, however, was to have a stable source of income for my family, especially after the Covid-19 wave.
How many people do you work with?
The business currently has three full-time hands, mine inclusive. I appreciate their input and it makes life easier for me as a person and the business as well. Once put together, our brains and strengths constantly pave a positive light for the business. Teamwork is the best and so is my team.
What methods do you use to promote your business?
Digital media is the go-to tool for marketing and product promotion. It is cost-effective and convenient and it reaches the masses in a very short period which directly translates to a quick turnover.
How did you choose the name for your business?
So, you know how generally a farm girl is a girl or woman who works on a farm! And generally the picture you see in your head when you hear the words “farm girl” is that of a young woman covered in mud or dirt. A sad and depressing picture! From this background, I felt “not all is doom and gloom about being a Farm Girl!” For as long as I am doing what I love, I’m ok with being covered in dirt.
What makes you different from others in your industry?
Well, not many people are into this kind of business and if I were to pick that one thing, it would be how I extend my charisma to the product; I don’t know if that makes sense! I have a very bubbly personality, and this extends to everything I do.
How did you manage to survive the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic?
The truth of the matter is that we will never be the same again after having been hit by this novelty virus and it hit us hard. When I was about to launch the business, Covid-19 hit, and I couldn’t see even a tiny glimpse of light as far as the business is concerned. Little did I know that it was creating a market for the Farm Girl Beans because most people were now leaning towards healthy living and healthy eating. So, for people looking for a healthier protein substitute, they turned to beans.
How many hours a day do you spend working on your business?
I live and breathe my business! I am Farm Girl 24/7! It is who I am, and it is who I choose to be every day when I wake up in the morning.
How would you characterise your business’s success thus far?
One thing that constantly humbles me is having gathered the courage to take the risk of starting the business although I didn’t have any practical reference points and I consider that the greatest success of all time. I am also grateful to the shops that believed in me as a person and by extension, the product offered. These are shops like Saverite Supermarket Ritz and Buy n’ Save Spar Mbabane. There is a vision I have for the business and with the right support financially, that vision will be accomplished.
What can your loyal customers look forward to in the future?
Only the best! Improved product! Improved distribution!