The Western Cape’s top female entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector have been crowned.

The winners of the Western Cape leg of the Female Entrepreneur Awards, were announced last night (19 August 2015).

The competition is a partnership between the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the provincial departments of Agriculture.

Now in its 16th year, it seeks to honour the sector’s leading women.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, congratulated the winners.

“It’s fitting that in Women’s Month, we are able celebrate the women who are making a significant impact in our agricultural sector. All of the entrants are making a valuable contribution to food security, job creation and economic growth. 

It’s particularly important to celebrate women in this sector, which is generally seen as male-dominated. I am so pleased to honour their achievements.

“The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is committed to developing women in the sector.  It is our goal to move more women from subsistence farming, to small holder farming to the point where they are able to export their produce.”

 Minister Winde said past winners were continuing to grow their enterprises.

 “Last year’s winner, Ilse Ruthford, who went on to win the national agri-processing award, heads up the financial management of a wine storage facility which services over 40 producers. I was delighted to hear she would be launching her own wine label later this month. These are the kinds of stories we need to showcase.”

 Since its launch in 1999, more than 300 women have entered the competition. Of these, seven have gone on to clinch the national award.

 The full list of winners:

 Best Female Worker – Maria Persens – De Fynne Nursery, Klapmuts

Maria has worked in a range of areas at the nursery for the past eight years. Her key role is working with the research plant material that De Fynne grows for research institutions. De Fynne Nursery is a wholesale plant growing nursery and plum production farm. 

 Best Subsistence Producer – Moyo We Khaya Community Garden, Khayelitsha

 Moyo We Khaya, led by Tenjiwe Kaba, is a community garden in Khayelitsha tended by women farming with vegetables. This group stood out for the excellent service they deliver to the community and for the inspiration they provide for other residents.

 Top Entrepreneur Smallholder – Eugene Simons, Algina Wholesale nursery, Firgrove

Eugene started a small business in 2009, producing seedlings for family and friends. Currently she produces nearly 7 million seedlings per year and has secured contracts with farmers.

Top Entrepreneur Processing – Jessica Bonin, Lady Bonin’s Tea, Cape Town

Jessica started the business in 2011 with a mobile tea caravan selling take-away tea.  Today Lady Bonin’s is an international brand. The teas are hand blended with organic ingredients, using in-house recipes developed by Jessica. She specialises in wild grown, biodynamic and organic Rooibos, Honeybush and Buchu tea.

Top Entrepreneur Commercial (Provincial Nominee) – Ingrid de Waal, Canette Vallei, Stellenbosch

Ingrid is the only female lavender producer in the Western Cape.  She produces lavender essential oil, lavender cut flowers, dried flowers and handmade soap. Ingrid is also the only person in South Africa to produce raw lavender honey. Ingrid also cooks and sells traditional “Kaapse Moskonfyt”.

 Ministerial Award (Youth) – Geraldine Theunissen – Wildekrans Wine Estate, Bot River Valley

Geraldine is one of a few female tractor drivers in the Western Cape.  She heads an all-male team on Wildekrans Wine Estate in the Bot River Valley.  The farm has various production activities such as vine, deciduous fruit, olives, pome fruit and sheep.

The national competition will be held on the 27 August in Durban.  Provincial winners from across South Africa will compete for the national awards, which includes the overall National Female Entrepreneur award.

CAPTION: Back: Eugene Simons (Smallholder), Jessica Bonin (Processing) and Ingrid de Waal (Commercial)
Front: Maria Persens (Best Worker), Tenjiwe Kaba (Subsistence) and Geraldine Theunissen (Ministerial Award)


For media queries, kindly contact:

Bronwynne Jooste
Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities
Western Cape Government

Tel: 021 483 3550
Cell: 060 970 4301
Twitter: bronwynnejooste