Lynette Ntuli - PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa

“We can overcome and succeed as long as we keep our standards as high as our heels.”

Last week’s PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa, enjoyed the participation of Lynette Ntuli, founding director and executive lead consultant at the property asset and infrastructure development solutions firm Innate Investment Solutions. Lynette spoke at the Woman's Fresh Perspective Breakfast, held in honour of Woman's Week.

Lynette was the first South African woman to become GM of a super-regional shopping centre; she is CEO of the Durban Business Enhancement Initiative and founding director and chairman of Lynette is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Founding Curator of a South African hub.

“We appreciate being able to come together and discuss an industry that is so critical to the growth of economies, not just in this country, but globally. It is important for us to connect, which is why we are all here at this Fresh Summit,” affirms Lynette.

Lynette assures that the event takes place at an important time for South Africa, not only because “it falls within woman’s month, but also because South Africa’s debate on land reform is firmly back on the table and agriculture and the future of food security are very much in the mind of political leaders around the world.”

She explains that the conflict on the ownership of land in South Africa is very much historically linked to what comes out of that land. “South Africa’s wealth has been built on gold and minerals, but today, food security has risen to the top of our national agendas, meaning that land continues to be important.”

South Africa’s president stated that agriculture has become a key economic driver for employment and prosperity, and that the target is to create one million jobs in the sector by 2030. According to Lynette, “20 years ago, we had about 120,000 commercial farmers in South Africa; in 2014, this figure has dropped to 57,000. Additionally, in the last few years nearly half a million people have lost their jobs.”
It has been estimated that 73% of the land in South Africa is not used correctly by the agricultural sector, “and there in itself lies a significant opportunity for the acceleration of our economy and for that of the communities around that land,” says Lynette.

“Our real opportunity as entrepreneurs lies in the areas where nobody has been before; in the areas where people are waiting for change. As a company, we looked at how we could combine property, ethics, infrastructure, retail and many competing marketing forces and factors to create turn-key solutions that would make a difference and have an impact in our country.”

Regarding the participation of women in the sector, Lynette explains that “incidentally, we have bumped into the agricultural industry quite a lot; we have come across women who have started cooperatives, but have no market access and no knowledge about value chain in this specific sector. Supply management and retail are thus areas we’ve had to be concerned about.”

“I also believe that the opportunity exists for the creation of equal systems that will not only empower and enrich, but also sustain brand new markets and communities in our country. At the core of our business is the unwavering belief that if people know what property, land and infrastructure mean and what they can provide for them, they can tap into economically and socially transformative tools.”

“How then can we cultivate a better value chain? It is up to us, those who are already in service and delivering products, to begin to provide supportive structures and solutions to change lives and ensure that we support the areas of need, not just economically, but within our sector in itself.”

“We, women, who are often responsible for the food security of our families on a daily basis, who often approach agriculture as a way to feed and support a family in a country like South Africa, we are perhaps the most poised to begin to play a very active role in this particular sector.”

“Let us use our pool of resources to start working towards some of the small stuff that we know will turn into big things in the future, because nothing is set in stone and certainly nothing is fixed on the ground. Business needs our prowess and insights, and we can perhaps respond the fastest to most of society’s needs. We can overcome and succeed as long as we keep our standards as high as our heels.”

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