“Don’t give up. I’ll never give up.”
These are the passionate words Ambrose Magomarele lives by.
It’s also this kind of passion that helped his business secure a R5-million investment from mining giant Anglo American Platinum.
Magomarele is one of seven members of the People’s First Piggery co-operative situated in Rustenburg in the North West.
Magomarele started his piggery in 2006 with Petrus Lepota. Following this the pair formed the co-operative, which includes their wives and three other women in the surrounding area.
“We bought 15 low-bred pigs from my brother-in-law and used the old municipality office as our premises,” says Magomarele.
However, the site was not ideal for breeding pigs and the seven struggled to get the co-operative to take off, despite growing from 15 pigs to 60 in just two months. “There was no money. We were selling the pigs one at a time and it took up to three months to sell one big (one),” he recalls.
On top of this the seven were selling the pigs for less than their market price.
As a result the co-operative was making a continued loss. They were also feeding the pigs leftover food and as the number of pigs grew Magomarele began to realise that they would need more feed for the pigs.
“I had no money so I approached the nearby Anglo American mining hostels and was given the go ahead to use their leftover feed,” he recalls.
Word soon reached Anglo American Platinum’s head office in North West and on referral from one of the managers at the hostel, Magomarele received a visit from staff at the mining giant’s head office.
“They (Anglo American Platinum) were so impressed with my passion, that I received funding and training,” he says.
Thanks to the training they received Magomarele was able to put structures in place to help the co-operative to grow.
Today the co-operative no longer breeds pigs, but instead operates as a growers’ unit where Magomarele buys piglets to fatten up before selling.
“I also get to lease land from Anglo American. I only pay R50 per year. That’s the best bargain in South Africa,” he says.
But, despite coming this far, Magomarele says the co-operative still has a long way to go. “We are not making a lot of money yet. We spend R67 000 on the feed alone and I’ve just bought 150 piglets for R107 000,” he says. He plans to expand the business by turning to breeding again. However, this time he plans to breed a better quality pigs and also build a facility where he can manufacture his own feed for the pigs.“We need about R6 million in funding based on the business plan that we’ve put together,” he says. He places emphasis on the word “yet” and remains confident that he will find funding soon.
In the meantime, he is investing every cent he can into the business he proudly calls “the best black-owned piggery in the North West”.