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Exxaro’s ESD programme creates opportunities for South African communities.

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Local entrepreneur Sandile Feni. Image credit: Exxaro Resources

14 April 2021 – South African mining company Exxaro’s Enterprise Supplier Development (ESD) Programme creates a range of opportunities for South African communities. In December 2020, 11 candidates completed the two-year ESD programme hosted by Exxaro’s Leeuwpan Coal Mine in partnership with Excellence Business Consulting. Twenty-six-year-old business owner Sandile Feni was one of them.

Born and bred in Delmas, Mpumalanga, Sandile attended Sizuzile Primary School and completed his matric at Phaphamani Secondary School in 2012. He started his higher education journey at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Human Resource Management, but after a year, his entrepreneurial spirit led him back to Delmas to start his own business.

A lifelong learner, he completed a livestock production course, a course in basic livestock medical applications and vaccines for animals, as well as a business management course.

In 2014, Sandile held his first event, called the “Delmas Sneaker Festival”, where he organised a fun-filled day with entertainment while collecting sneakers which were then donated to less fortunate children in the surrounding community. “I always knew that one day I would become a businessperson. I was born an entrepreneur and from a young age, I loved doing my own thing,” says Sandile.

Sandile joined the business world in 2015 when he founded Prestige Resources in the Delmas community. He combined forces with two of his friends, Mduduzi Mabena and Bongani Mahlangu, and they started their first operational farm by planting spinach.

This business venture, in collaboration with the Exxaro ESD programme, assisted Sandile in securing a spinach supply contract with the local Pick ‘n Pay in Delmas in 2017. Fast forward two years later to March 2019, and Sandile won first prize at the 67CEOs Foundation event sponsored by Exxaro, which hosted approximately 100 of the local communities’ small and mid-size enterprises taking part in a development programme in Witbank, Mpumalanga.

Ensuring the growth of his business

The income generated from his partnership with Pick ‘n Pay was reinvested, and the team started a small piggery with just three sows. They borrowed a boar and grew the piggery into a 36-pig farm in just one year. The business was very successful, and in 2019 they all agreed that they had built enough knowledge to pursue their own aspirations and dreams.

Sandile continued with his business, Prestige Farming, and turned his focus to spinach farming. He is currently planting four tunnels and is still supplying Pick ‘n Pay weekly. He employs a small team of people and is also developing other entrepreneurs by providing them with guidance and mentorship on how to produce quality products for various vegetable markets in South Africa.

Sandile’s built Prestige Resources to expand the range of services he provides, and his ambition is to make it onto the Forbes Under 30 list before he turns 30. No doubt the business skills and guidance he has received through Exxaro’s ESD programme will help him reach this goal.

“I pride myself on my hard work, and I am grateful for programmes like the Exxaro Leeuwpan ESD incubation programme that taught me how to position my brand. It also taught me the importance of managing my finances and how to market my business to appeal to the broader business world,” says Sandile.

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