The tedious process of acquiring a 2000 hectare government farm led Zolani Ngcingwana to a small private farm he wished to purchase. He knew exactly which doors to knock on for funding to purchase the farm, livestock and equipment.

Ithala Development Finance Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial development agency, helped him to achieve his dream and he is now an accomplished farmer.

Before he began his career as a farmer, Ngcingwana was in the retail industry. He said moving from retail to the farming industry was an easy transition as farming had always been a passion.

He grew up in a family with retail and farming expertise, not far from Kokstad.

“Back then when blacks could not legally own or lease land, my father had unofficially leased land from a white farmer friend. This reinforced the passion and desire to own a farm once circumstances permitted,” said Ngcingwana.

“I just got tired of retail and wanted to fulfil my dream of commercial farming.”

Even at 65, Ngcingwana prides himself on hard work. “When you are an entrepreneur you have to be open to learning and expanding your knowledge,” he said.

Ngcingwana, who has been married for 40 years and has six children, said his family is his most prized possession. Hence, he has worked tirelessly to make certain that his wife and children are happy and well taken care of.

He attributes his passion for entrepreneurship to his parents and fondly recalls his childhood when his parents had several rural shops around Ntabankulu and Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape and a rural peasant farming homestead. This paved the way for him to enter the world of business.

Prior to owning Yellow Star Farm in 2011, Ngcingwana owned shops in Mount Frere and Port St Johns and a pole manufacturing business in Mthatha. He later decided to follow his passion and acquired a maize and cattle farm which boasts an impressive 800 hectares.

Yellow Star Farm currently affords 10 permanent employees and roughly 20 casual staff a living. Ngcingwana is hopeful that his children will soon take a firm interest in agriculture so that he can groom them to take over the reins and develop a leading agricultural enterprise after his retirement.

As an experienced business owner, he emphasised the need to be flexible to adapt in a world that is constantly changing in order for your business to succeed.

Ngcingwana has no plans of slowing down anytime soon and has identified another farm which specialises in sheep farming that he plans to acquire.

He said he appreciated Ithala’s developmental philosophy and the promotion of sustainable growth for previously disadvantaged people in the business sector.

As a traditional African he has made his mark in community development by putting several disadvantaged children from his community through school and created job opportunities.

“When you are in a position to lend a helping hand to someone in need, do it without hesitation,” said Ngcingwana.

He recalls how pain-free the Ithala loan application process was and that contrary to his expectation that there would be unnecessary red tape, this was not the case.

Ngcingwana encourages current and aspirant business owners in need of financial assistance to visit the provincial bank, especially young people.

“I wish more could be done to assist the youth who are looking to either start or grow their businesses as I don’t feel enough is currently being done to give them a proper foundation and push towards business and agriculture in particular.

“We don’t hear a lot about African farmers and that is what prompted me to make my business a success. I want my children to have a role model they can look up to.”

Ithala’s precept “Real People, Real Progress” is visible in the continued support, empowerment and development of ordinary citizens. The agency’s Business Finance and Properties portfolio have tailor-made offerings to support the growth journey of current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

For more information on Ithala visit or or call 031 907 8911.

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