Meet Buyiswa Ndyenga ("Steri")
Steri grew up as the child of the domestic worker who worked for the farm manager. As a little girl she always wished that one day she could be the farm manager but had serious misconceptions about the job – thinking it basically entailed driving around in your bakkie! Although she later realised that there are many responsibilities linked to this job, she still aspired to become a farm manager.
Her success story is one of an individual who persistently worked hard and saw an opportunity to excel where others would have just accepted their situation.
She started working on the farm in 1994 as a casual worker, picking fruit, with a grade 10 qualification to her name. She was the only lady on her team and later moved on to lead the team.
In 2002 she was appointed in a permanent position. In 2007 the Government bought the farm that she worked on and SRFT was established. She became one of the beneficiaries of this Trust. In 2009 she became the Assistant Farm Manager, which prompted her to complete a management course. In 2013 she was appointed as General Manager of SRFT.
What is her secret?
Steri says that she has had to work very hard every day. Because she came through the ranks she knew everything about the farming process – from planting to irrigation and picking. She knows that this kind of success is not possible for a woman without the support of a husband, children and extended family.
She says that the farm workers' sense of ownership as beneficiaries contributes to their commitment levels and motivation.
She is a mother of three and hopes that her children will one day return to the farm after their university studies to contribute to the business. She has had the privilege to pay for her eldest’s studies with her own savings and will also do that for her other two children.
Steri dreams of the day when SRFT will be able to successfully manage the project on its own. This she believes will be possible once her children and the children of the other beneficiaries have had the opportunity to study and can return to the farm as the next generation of farmers.
And her relationship with SRCC? She acknowledges that they have bumped their heads every now and then but that there is an honest, open relationship in which issues can always be sorted out. SRCC has always respected SRFT to make its own decisions and has only provided constructive criticism and support.