Impact SA

Evergrow Seedlings is set up to take the business to new heights in the midst of the pandemic and beyond

Evergrow Seedlings co-founder Phetole Raseropo.

As soon as South Africa was placed under lockdown in March 2020, most small business owners feared their companies would face a steep decline towards failure. While a larger number of businesses took a knock in their sales due to the small-scale of their operations, one company that refused to accept that reality was Evergrow Seedlings.

Determination to succeed

“I was determined to thrive even during one of the toughest economic climates the world has seen,” says co-owner Andile Gcaza. Evergrow Seedlings has managed to increase sales dramatically since March last year. The company has seen rapid growth, with demand for its offering doubling. The highest month-on-month revenue showed a staggering 1058% growth rate!

The business

Evergrow Seedlings is a small agri-business based in Soweto, Gauteng. It was co-founded in 2018 by Andile and Phetole Raseropo, both young bio-scientists. The business deals with seedling inventory management and provides training on modern farming practices. It aims to provide access to high-quality, primary production agricultural inputs, such as vegetable seedlings, seeds and primary consultation services to smallholder farmers in peri-urban areas around Gauteng.

Furthermore, Evergrow Seedlings is a DRDLR-verified, black-youth-owned agricultural supplier currently offering pro bono consultation services to beneficiaries of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Initiative (PESI) and the Solidarity Fund who are based in Gauteng and North West province.

The Khulisa iBiznis Funding Accelerator Programme

Evergrow Seedlings is a recent graduate of and award winner for highest turnover growth by the Khulisa iBiznis Funding Accelerator Programme supported by JP Morgan and implemented by The Hope factory NPC* and SAICA Enterprise Development.

The programme, which concluded in December 2020, covered Back office Accounting, Tax, Compliance, Secretarial and Payroll support from a dedicated accounting graduate who is overseen by a qualified CA(SA), monthly finance coaching and monthly finance boot camps.

Why Evergrow Seedlings joined the Khulisa iBiznis Programme

“In early 2020 we identified compliance as a core challenge. We needed a partnership that would allow our agricultural start-up provisions of financial literacy, funding readiness coaching, legal and business-related workshops so that we could understand the fundamentals of business accounting and finances. So we joined the Khulisa iBiznis Programme to help us attract funding and grow the business,” say Andile and Phetole.

“Through the Programme we have recently received our audited year-end financial management accounts. They helped us to understand how to track daily business operation with cash flow efficiency. This places us in a position to approach commercial funding institutions for growth funding,” they add.

Bryte Advisory collaborated with SAICA ED as an SMP (Small and Mediam Practice) for the Township SMME programme that assisted the SMMEs with their financial management paperwork.

Bryte Advisory member, Tandzile Nzalo says, “The growth journey with Andile and Evergrow Seedlings has been outstanding to say the least. The company is a true example of dedication, strategy and hard work withstanding even the toughest of economies. Partnering with them through this initiative has given us the space to guide and support their growth in a way that has been a genuine honour. SMMEs and corporates coming together in this way to improve the sustainability of our economy is exactly the kind of transformation that brings light and promise to our country’s future.”

Where to from here?

The company’s revenue has grown close to R300 000 on a monthly basis, and demand for their work has far exceeded the current production space being used to service clients. Moving forward, Evergrow Seedlings is in the process of securing additional space that would increase their capacity to produce whilst maintaining a minimal financial burden to the company. This will, in turn, result in additional employees being offered work opportunities.

Jameel Khan, Head of Projects at SAICA ED and Khulisa iBiznis Programme Head says, “It is stunning to see Andile’s passion for agriculture, translating into profits. We are proud to have had Evergrow Seedlings in our programme”

 “Thank you for this opportunity – the funding readiness coaching and business-related workshops have proven invaluable. Thank you again to all the partner’s involved in this programme as well as our farming community customers for allowing our business to grow and thrive”, comments Andile.

Evergrow Seedlings continues to grow from strength to strength while paying keen attention to having sound foundations and systems in place to house and sustain the company’s growth. With their determination and bio-science expertise, they are set to continue Evergrow Seedlings’ trajectory and cement the company’s profits and presence in the market.

* The Hope Factory NPC

The Hope Factory was founded in 2001 and formalised in 2004, powered by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), as part of the Nation Building division. They are a registered Non-Profit Company with a Level 1 B-BBEE rating and a registered Public Benefit Organisation, who can issue Section 18A certificates for tax deduction purposes.

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