HandPicked grads think big

From left: HandPicked facilitator Thandeka Zulu celebrates with HandPicked graduates Mandisa Mathenjwa, Nonstikelelo Ntuli and Lungelo Mthembu. © Pierre Tostee / Mr Price Foundation


  • Five aspiring entrepreneurs graduated from our 12-month HandPicked programme in April.
  • Agriculture presents exciting opportunities for South Africa’s young workforce.
  • We celebrate entrepreneurs who are working today to solve tomorrow’s problems.


After a deep-dive into the business of hydroponic crop production, five aspiring entrepreneurs recently graduated from our 12-month HandPicked agriskills incubation programme in KwaZulu-Natal.


These young agripreneurs will be moving to the next phase of their journey, with three already providing agricultural advisory services to our new HandPicked intake.


This opportunity to earn an income from agriculture is the biggest motivation for agripreneurs to take their learnings seriously and to embrace an agricultural future.


South Africa’s youth are extremely vulnerable in the labour market, with 4.7 million unemployed youth (aged 15 to 34 years)*. With unemployment comes hunger – which makes the work of HandPicked in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and emerging farmer support even more significant.


In FY2023, HandPicked established six agrihubs, harvested over 1 ton of fresh produce, developed 27 entrepreneurs and established three agribusinesses. Our five new HandPicked graduates – Nonstikelelo Ntuli, Lungelo Mthembu, Thabile Mthembu,  Xolisa Mthethwa and Nkanyezi Khaba – will build on the socio-economic development impact of our budding HandPicked programme.


“Handpicked sharpened my farming and business skills. I can safely say I can run my own small farm with the experience and knowledge I got from HandPicked. My plans are to start a small farm producing seedlings, growing vegetables and processing vegetables,” said Thabile, a 24-year-old from Empangeni with a BSc Agriculture.


The HandPicked programme develops youth on both a personal level and as upcoming entrepreneurs. The skills that they learn make them better problem solvers and business owners.


“I can now run my own business! HandPicked has shown me the practical side of what I’ve been studying all along. I have learnt that a business is as much about making a profit as it is about meeting market demands,” said 23-year-old Nonstikelelo from Umlazi.


In driving this entrepreneurial mindset change, HandPicked can shift consumers to producers; stimulate small businesses, create local employment and boost food security in urban and rural areas.


“The training shaped my mind to think as a farmer who soon will enter the agripreneurial industry. Having this opportunity made me realise and straighten my goals, specifically what I want to focus on as I progress forward to new opportunities,” said Nkanyezi.


Lungelo, a 24-year-old from Pietermaritzburg with a BSc Agriculture, said HandPicked provided new tertiary graduates with the opportunity to gain experience in modern farming.


“It helps them to understand farming in a more practical way. I plan to further my agricultural knowledge while gaining more experience,” said Lungelo.


We celebrate all our HandPicked agripreneurs who are working today to solve tomorrow’s problems. Agriculture presents exciting opportunities – and we look forward to a year of healthy growth ahead!


We also thank our HandPicked partners – Mr Price Group, Fresh Life Produce, African Grower, CHEP, Redefine, Vukile and Veldskoen – for coming together for catalytic effect!


Connect with us if you’d like to explore partnership opportunities or make a donation to HandPicked. Thank you!


* Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey Q4: 2023.

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