TechInAfrica – The idea of Livestock Wealth is engrossing; letting any individual profit from farming in South Africa. Started in one October in 2015, Ntuthuko Shezi, who was an electromechanical engineer in training, launch a platform that let clients invest in livestock or crops raised on a farm.
“The premise of all the products is very simple,” Shezi explains. “Each of them looks like and behaves like a bank fixed deposit that follows the life cycle of that product.”
“There are a lot of farmers who own assets but who can’t derive value out of it in terms of liquidity or profit. You have millions of people who are city dwellers who want to own these assets and make a profit when it goes to market or at harvest. Livestock Wealth makes the link,” Shezi says.
The offered products are the most popular being free-range ox, a pregnant cow, a connected garden, and a macadamia nut tree. This has brought the company an R100m ($6.1m) worth of assets.
For Shezi, who was raised in Ndwedwe in KwaZulu-Natal province, the first 26 pregnant cows were what started it all.
“That first day I kept looking at the website and nothing happened. Two days later, we got our first transaction and we were ecstatic, over the moon,” Shezi reminiscent of their first-ever transaction in the company history.
His business is currently registered under the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and the Agricultural Produce Agents Council, and these steps change the way his company does business, with layers of security for the investors.
“We engage with the farmer on a contractual basis as the agent but at the same time, we function as if we are loaning them your money by doing credit checks on the individual farmer and his company, making sure he can be trusted with your investment. This way there is extra protection for the investor.”
Livestock Wealth has added free-range beef into their selling list with the focus on end-customers.
“Food prices were going up. We saw a gap in the market to offer lower prices if we could get the consumer to commit to being a regular buyer of the beef. If you are part of the Farmer’s Club, you get the product at a better price,” Shezi said.
Shezi doesn’t want to compromise quantity over quality, so poor practices in farming are not in his sight. Instead, he is taking the development of a new technology solution to decrease livestock theft and improving security.
“We have developed excellent proprietary tech to track livestock. Just last week, we finished development on the tracking alarm system which every partner farmer who works with us will have to implement over time. It is a collar around the cow’s neck that enables live tracking,” Shezi says.
In all, Shezi is happy with how everything turns out.
“I am happy with the foundation we have laid. We have deep trust in the marketplace and depth of knowledge in our field.”
Now his company aims to manage R10b ($608.3m) of assets for the next 5 years.