Nanloy oRGANIC FARM
From Trial to Triumph
The H-Accelerator'21 Spotlight
Nanloy Organic Farm is combining innovation with indigenous African knowledge to produce high value fresh organic produce.
Mkwanazi is striving to alleviate poverty and enhance food security by reintroducing native African crops which are highly nutritious, better adapted to thrive in local environments, and result in higher yields.
Born and raised in Johannesburg, Mkwanazi comes from a South African farming family. With a background in project management and political science, Mkwanazi started off her career in communication and entrepreneurship through big firms and a local incubator.
However, she eventually found herself drawn back to her roots, especially her grandmother’s heirloom seeds which had been passed down in her family for generations. Mkwanazi began farming, quickly producing a surplus of organic spinach which she started selling to local preschools and homes for at-risk women.
Confronted with a lack of knowledge about organic farming from her community and having identified a viable market for her organic crops, Mkwanazi launched Nanloy Organic Farm.
Mkwanazi’s path to spearheading a viable venture took resilience and courage. After losing access to her first plots of land, resulting in the loss of over 200 spinach plants, Mkwanazi was then forced to abandon her second plots when a dishonest landowner prohibited her from using organic fertilizer.
This difficult setback resulted in the loss of over five hectares of supplies and nearly all her savings. Nonetheless, she refused to give up, canvassing 40 neighboring farms, leaving a note at each with her request. By this time, Nandi’s family had dipped into their own savings, liquidating assets to support her venture.
Out of the 40 requests Nandi made, she was finally rewarded with one success: a local college agreed to lease her a plot of land which was covered with invasive trees. With her brother’s help, Mkwanazi cleared the entire plot, a process which took months, until she was able to begin planting a combination of spinach, amadumbe, cowpeas, red, green and multicolored amaranth, indigenous African pumpkins, and Mozambican sweet potato.
As they worked to clear the plot of land, Mkwanazi planted spinach in her family members’ gardens in an effort to preserve her existing contracts. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mkwanazi lost these clients as preschools closed – leaving her on the brink of bankruptcy. It was at this juncture in her journey that she was accepted into the H-Accelerator.
The Nanloy Organic Farm Team
Reflecting on her team, Nandi Mkwanazi notes that the students “have completely immersed themselves in the development of the company.”
The students “are doing an incredible job in achieving the KPIs… [and] have helped my company gain a lot of traction and growth.”
"I feel as if the students were tailor made for me."
– Nandi Mkwanazi
Neoma Business School - MBA (France)
Public Relations & Marketing
UC, San Diego - Undergrad (USA)
Amaury De Castelnau
Concordia University - Undergrad (Canada) Emylon Business School - MBA (France)
Insights into The H-Accelerator
"I can breathe again [...] Not to mention getting to
take my first day off in over five years."
– Nandi Mkwanazi
Through the H-Accelerator, Mkwanazi set out to improve her marketing strategy, social media presence, and website. Within the first two months, the team more than doubled the number of followers on Instagram and Facebook, creating a cohesive brand that showcases the venture’s powerful development.
Mkwanazi shares that her strong new social media presence has made it possible for her to gain traction thanks to her venture’s increased visibility.
Since joining the program, Mkwanazi has been offered a host of opportunities: the chance to be developed through the SEDA Export Development Programme, a grant through the National Youth Development Agency, and grants from Gauteng Enterprise Propeller. Last month, Mkwanazi was selected for the Ecological Organic Agriculture Pollinator program, taking her place as the youngest South African woman.
Thanks to Minvielle, Karbassi and De Castelnau’s impactful work, Mkwanazi is free to consider the long term goals of her venture. Most notably, Mkwanazi aspires to use organic farming as a means to mitigate violence against women. Learning how to farm can break the cycle of food as an agent of control, giving women the tools for self-subsistence and independence.
"The program has superseded my expectations."
– Nandi Mkwanazi
Through the team’s combined efforts, Nanloy Organic Farm has come a long way since Mkwanazi began working in her grandmother’s garden. Mkwanazi remains confident in her venture’s continued success even after the program’s conclusion, owing to all the team has taught one another. “I can breathe again,” beams Mkwanazi “because I can look at my business from a global perspective – not to mention getting to take my first day off in over five years.”