In a recent drive to up-skill and empower his farmworkers, regenerative livestock farmer, Angus McIntosh, of Farmer Angus on the Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, sold 85% of his egg business to some of his former employees. This has made them instant business managers and shareholders in this 51% black women-owned business.
As one of South Africa’s largest retailers, Checkers offers the new owners the opportunity to expand their model nationally.
Shoppers looking for nutritious, outdoor eggs that are beyond free-range and contain no GMO or Glyphosate will be able to buy Farmer Angus eggs at the following two stores in the Western Cape: Constantia Emporium in Constantia and the Checkers in Mill Street in Stellenbosch.
McIntosh has vendor financed the deal which keeps him focused on making the business a success as he only gets his payout from the profits of the business. The shareholders are McIntosh, Neliswa Mbengana, Zanele Hlabisa, Mbhekiseni Khoza, Menzi Khoza and Phello Ntlati. The directors are Thobelani Mngomezulu, Mawethu Xamle, Mbhekiseni Khoza, Thabani Lamula, Angus McIntosh and Menzi Khoza, all of whom McIntosh has known since birth as they grew up on the same farm in KZN. Based on current profits the business will be paid off in less than 4 years.
“96% of all eating eggs come from the caged hens,” says Thobelani Mngomezulu, one of the directors at Farmer Angus Eggs. “Our chickens are housed in Eggmobiles, which are moved daily to help fertilize our soil at the farm. We get our chickens to graze on the pastures, which are free of any chemicals, so they can lay the most nutritious eggs. They roam our pastures all day and are only locked up in the Eggmobiles at night for their own protection. We also feed the chickens with non-GMO food that is specially made for us. Not only are we producing the healthiest eggs, but we’re also practicing regenerative agriculture which reverses climate change and is good for the soil. As someone who has a deep love for nature, I believe that regenerative agriculture is how we can heal the land.”
Mawethu Xamle and his wife, Neliswa Mbengana, who is a shareholder says that being able to own a business is such a good thing for their family as it’s given them a chance to grow. Zanele Hlabisa, confesses that the most important thing for her is that she can be a part of the business even when she is not on the farm. “Being a shareholder is really a once in a lifetime experience,” she says.
McIntosh started farming at Spier in 2009. He practices regenerative agriculture through the rotational grazing of animals such as pigs, cattle and chickens across the land. “The goal of regenerative agriculture is to produce nutrient-dense food, heal the earth and create employment opportunities,” says McIntosh.
A few years ago Farmer Angus achieved a world first when he was paid carbon credits for increasing the carbon content of the soil in the pastures where the cattle graze. Now Checkers shoppers can experience another world first by picking their eggs out of Eggmobiles stationed in store, that McIntosh designed and built in collaboration with 3 Thirds.
McIntosh goes on to say, “with the way most farming is done in South Africa, people are not eating the best food they can possibly buy. This is due to the many pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed onto crops and fed to animals. Having a major retailer like Checkers coming on board means that consumers will finally get to eat animal protein that is locally produced and free of harmful substances that can cause damage to our bodies.”
One of the major benefits of the shareholding structure is that Farmer Angus Eggs can access government funding, which is the only way the business is able to grow nationwide. Being able to scale this business is the ultimate goal for the new owners.
The Eggmobile has been gaining popularity with other small-scale operations popping up in parts of the country. More recently it received a lot of interest from the Department of Agriculture. In a bid to fund and expand the model to other parts of the country, they recently invited Farmer Angus Eggs to design an Eggmobile-based mobile poultry operation that produces 12,000 eggs per day and is fully off-grid. The funding for this is still under review but all meetings with the Department indicate that they are supportive of this initiative.
With unemployment being one of South Africa’s biggest challenges, the outdoor regenerative farming method is an ideal way to address this issue due to it being so labour intensive.
Mbhekiseni Khoza says, “Being a shareholder in a business has meant I am now able to grow as a person and I’m proud of my new role. I’d like to see more of my friends around the country being empowered in this way and through Checkers, we believe this is going to be possible.”
“Our deal with Checkers wouldn’t have been possible without the enthusiasm and support we got from Arno Abeln (Head of Fresh Food at Shoprite), Renaldo Phillips (Head of Private Buying at Shoprite) and Shaun Kerr and Cobus Crafford (Buyers for Shoprite). Thank you.” concludes McIntosh.
Cape Town, 28 October 2020