The Motsepe Foundation, in collaboration with its implementing agent Agri-SA Enterprises, has joined forces with African Seeds Group (ASG) to launch the IlimaLethu project. This initiative forms part of the Inclusive Farming Partnership programme between the Motsepe Foundation and Agri SA and aims to empower developing farmers in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal provinces, enabling them to transition into small-scale commercial farming enterprises.

Named IlimaLethu, meaning “our crops” in isiZulu, the project is designed to provide participating farmers with access to essential resources and support services. This includes seed, fertiliser and agrochemical inputs, operational finance, agronomy support, as well as assistance in accessing offtake markets. Additionally, the project will fund the development and upgrade of infrastructure such as irrigation and fencing on selected farms.

HelloChoice, a trusted online marketing platform, has been selected as the partner of choice to facilitate the offtake and marketing of produce on behalf of the farmers. They will also provide valuable market insights related to pricing and crop selection. Grant Jacobs, CEO of HelloChoice, expressed excitement about partnering with the Motsepe Foundation on the Ilimalethu Project. This collaboration aims to boost rural farming economies, promoting empowerment and sustainable agricultural value chains. HelloChoice’s mission aligns with the project’s goals, focusing on financial inclusion and access to production inputs and markets. The HelloChoice Wallet will streamline
production funding and offtake marketing for smallholder farmers. Jacobs thanked the Motsepe Foundation for their support and anticipated positive outcomes from the collaboration, looking forward to the project’s transformative impact on farming communities.

Participating farmers will engage in the project for a period of three years, spanning six growing seasons. The initial phase aims to establish 76 hectares of crops across the two provinces, serving as a pilot for potential expansion into other regions. This initial pilot will include up to 20 participating farmers. ASG, established in 2018, shares the vision of the Motsepe Foundation in uplifting rural agricultural communities. Through innovative solutions tailored to small-scale farmers, ASG strives to enhance food security and reduce unemployment in South Africa. With a recent equity investment by black-owned Sakhumnotho Group Holdings, ASG is poised for further growth and impact in the agricultural sector.

Thato Mashao and Sipho Mseleku Jnr., joint CEOs at Sakhumnotho Group Holdings, endorsed the project “This initiative aligns with our mission to drive positive change and improve food security and empower the communities. We are excited and proud to be part of the IlimaLethu project,” Mihan Louw, Managing Director of African Seeds Group, expressed gratitude to the Motsepe Foundation for their
support. “Access to production inputs and capital equipment funding is crucial for the development of smallscale farmers,” said Louw.

“We believe this collaboration between ASG, the Motsepe Foundation, and HelloChoice is a game-changer in the way impact funding is deployed and will serve as a blueprint for similar initiatives in the future.” The IlimaLethu project marks a significant step towards sustainable agricultural development in South Africa, fostering economic empowerment and community resilience.