Welile Gumede sheds tears as she is handed half a million rand to restart her business. PHOTO: Department of Social Development

SASSA beneficiary used child grant to start a farm

The single mother had to think out of the box and started a farm which employs 32 people. The farm was however swept by the KZN floods.


Welile Gumede sheds tears as she is handed half a million rand to restart her business. PHOTO: Department of Social Development

A South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiary turned her daughter’s child support grant to start a farming business.


Welile Gumede, 32, was an unemployed single mother who depended on the SASSA child grant to support her child.

While heavily pregnant and with no income, she was desperate for a change to support herself and her child.

“I needed to think outside the box. There were these tunnels outside my home village. They weren’t used. I kept asking myself, what are these things for? I started doing research and learned everything on YouTube,” Gumede had told the media about her farm.

Instead, she used the child support money to grow her income by starting the Azowel Farming Projects in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu Natal.

The young woman started a farm in 2017 which quickly grew. PHOTO: Department of Social Development

Her business flourished and had 40 tunnels producing tomatoes and green peppers. She managed to employ 32 people and made an annual turnover of R1.6 million.

But during the floods which swept across the province earlier this year, Gumede was one of the families and businesses who helplessly watched their properties being washed away.

These devastating floods led the government to declare a state of national disaster in April this year.

ALSO READ: KZN floods: Province given R87m so far – damage totals around R25 billion


During visits to the flood victims in sought of providing relief, Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu was told of the challenges that arose due to the natural disaster, said department spokesperson Lumka Oliphant.

As August marked women’s month, this year is commemorated under the theme ‘Women’s Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment – building back better for women’s resilience’.

ALSO READ: SASSA to help R350 grant recipients ‘gain access to employment’

To aid the self-starting former SASSA beneficiary, the Deputy Minister partnered with MTN SA Foundation to save the young farmer’s business. Gumede could not hold back tears as she was handed a cheque to the value of R500 000 to Azowel Farming Projects on Wednesday.

Social Development and MTN SA Foundation handed the farm owner R500 000 to save her business which was swept by the KZN floods. PHOTO: Department of Social Development

MTN SA Foundation general manager Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi says she has been inspired by Gumede’s hard journey after visiting the farm in February this year.

“In February this year, we were at a project with Welile [Gumede] and it was amazing to see a bright spark, a young bright woman, doing what very few women are capable of doing. On reflection, I was asking myself that if a tenth of South African young women were doing this, the country would be a changed world,” she said.

ALSO READ: SASSA in KZN suspends over 38 000 grants – here’s why…