Soshanguve entrepreneur benefits from a sustainable local project focusing on the poultry business. Her story is one of perseverance and dedication, with the purpose of creating a better life for her family and her community. She does this using chickens!
Zenzile Mabitsela, the founder of The Masana Generation Project, sells live and slaughtered chickens to communities, addressing widespread food security challenges in Soshanguve and neighbouring townships Mabopane, Winterveldt and Tembisa.
Having grown up in the area, Zenzile is aware that a large part of the community is underprivileged and thus requires food to be more accessible due to the costs of travelling to supermarkets. There is also the issue of elderly people who are unable to move around as freely.
Having grown up in the area, Zenzile is aware that a large part of the community is underprivileged and thus requires food to be more accessible due to the costs of travelling to supermarkets. There is also the issue of elderly people who are unable to move around freely.
Eggs symbolize new life, but for Zenzile Mabitsela, the owner of a Soshanguve-based poultry business, it is chickens that have given her a fresh start in life. Through her business, the Masana Generation Project, she ensures her community has access to high-quality chickens while also building a lasting legacy for her family.
Being aware of these issues motivated Zinzile to start her business. She has since created three jobs while playing a pivotal role in ensuring her community has affordable and top-quality chicken products. To her, this poultry business operating from Pretoria is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact.
Zenzile attributes her mother as the inspiration behind her business journey. She recalls how her mother supplemented her income by selling sweets and chickens to her neighbours on weekends.
“I was working for a non-government organisation NGO when I started thinking about what I could do to support myself and leave a legacy for my family,” Zenzile says.
Taking inspiration from her mother, she enrolled in a chicken farming course at the Animal Research Council in Irene, Pretoria. After nine short months, she was ready to sell her first batch of chickens.
That was in 2014, and since then, Zenzile has worked hard to transform the Masana Generation Project into a food security vehicle that creates jobs in her community and equip local unemployed women and youth with the skills and knowledge relating to the poultry business. “Although our primary goal is to supply top quality chickens, our bigger objective is to create a business that can empower women and provide upskilling opportunities for the youth,” she says.
Masana Generation Project started small and the focus in the early years was to keep the business alive. Over the years, Zenzile has worked hard to earn a good reputation that has enabled her to grow the business. “By listening to feedback that I received from customers, I was able to understand exactly what they are looking for – and that’s healthy, fresh chickens of a certain size. By delivering this product consistently, I’ve gained a loyal customer base,” she says.
Zenzile added that although there are a few female counterparts in the poultry industry in her community, she does not feel this is a drawback. “My male peers respect me because I am capable and professional, and I’ve proved that I can work alongside them productively,” she says. The notion that farmers should be men is no longer valid as more women are running successful farming businesses.
Far more challenging than making her way through a male dominated field is trying to navigate the rules and regulations governing the industry. Zenzile admits that it can be hard to balance the requirements of industry stakeholders with those of suppliers and, of course, customers.
This resilient entrepreneur does not allow herself to become daunted by such obstacles. “I’ve learned that when I experience a setback, I need to persist, work harder, and find a way to come back stronger.”
Zenzile is excited about what the future holds for Masana Generation Project. “We are still growing,” she says. “There are so many more opportunities for us. I would like to reach a point where we become commercial farmers, and perhaps move into waste management. That would allow us to expand our impact – in addition to creating more jobs, we’d also be contributing to the circular economy,” she concludes.