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Entrepreneur Profile – Mmabatho Morudi, Bee charmer

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


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Mmabatho Morudi grew up in the Winterveld in the North West province of South Africa – an area that was demarcated as an agricultural settlement; today it is one of the poorest areas in the country, and still home to a group of small farmers struggling to make ends meet. Mmabatho thought she would study, move away eventually and settle in the city. But then, life happened and Mmabatho’s journey changed.

Where did it start?

Mmabatho’s grandfather – one of the Winterveld farmers, Dr Sam Motsuenyane – wanted to attend a course on bee farming and invited Mmabatho and her cousins to accompany him. Mmabatho was hooked – she later attended and completed an advanced course in bee keeping and started Iliju Bee Farms with ten hives – the first batch of many to come.

Giving back to the community

What initially appeared as a business opportunity proved that it could have a positive impact in rural communities. Bees are invaluable to crop farmers to pollinate crops and fruit. “We place Iliju hives on plots of farmers at no cost. Working with these mainly citrus farmers is my way of giving back by making sure that their produce is of good quality and have maximized yields. Currently there are at least 145 citrus farmers farming in an informal structure”, says Mmabatho.

Mmabatho does her own hive management on the farms, while training the farmers about bees.

It is also a business

Iliju Bee Farms provides Mmabatho the opportunity to harvest and sell the honey. “I wanted to sell proudly South African, good quality, unprocessed raw honey to the markets.” Mmabatho continues, “and with that make the story of honey and honey bees come alive.

“When you see a jar of honey on the shelves, it doesn’t tell the story of what goes on behind the scenes. I want to create a love of honey among consumers, and an understanding of the work bees does and the intelligence of these little creatures.”

Iliju

“Iliju” means honey in isiNdebele, and when one thinks of isiNdebele, it conjures up bright lively colours, love of life, passion, dancing – which is how Mmabatho feels about the country’s rural communities. “I want to bring life and give tribute to rural communities”.

All this is portrayed in Iliju’s branding.

What’s next?

As is typical with true entrepreneurs, the vision doesn’t stop with the bees. Mmabatho is also a partner of a manufacturing company called Chilladiddo which farms, bottles and sells chilli relishes. Mmabatho together with her partner Leeko Nkala will also soon be launching a new brand “Made with Rural”, which showcases all things beautiful Made with Rural hands, passion, love, soil…

The Winterveld is a poor area, yet there is so much land and so much potential. These farmers need an outlet to market their produce. “We want to create that market and attract tourist and locals alike.”

Mmabatho’s vision, with her energy, passion and compassion for the community, and most of all business sense are the ingredients of success.

Where to find Iliju honey and Chilli relishes

Contact Mmabatho directly to order:

Mmabatho Portia Morudi 072 991 1691, or e-mail portiamm5@gmail.com or info@Chilladiddo.co.za

 

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