27-year-old B Com graduate, Uzair Essack has been named Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year® at the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS at an awards ceremony held on 4 September 2019 in Johannesburg.
Essack is the founder of Cape Crops, a fruit and vegetable export company based in Cape Town that sources produce from South Africa and exports it to over 23 countries.
“I started Cape Crops in 2015 out of desperation to sustain myself and my family financially. My grandfather and father were both self-starting businessmen, so entrepreneurship has always been in my blood and I did what came naturally to me,” says Essack on his journey.
Essack started his entrepreneurial journey by importing rice from Pakistan and India. He was later introduced to a businessperson from Saudi Arabia who was interested in purchasing pineapples from South Africa. Following the successful and profitable pineapple-exporting venture, Essack decided to expand his offering and revisit his business model.
“In just over three years, we’ve built a global export business that has gone from nothing to a revenue of R34 million. I believe that the reason for our success is our business model, which makes us stand out in a highly competitive and traditional industry.”
The company’s unique business model has successfully turned the industry on its head. All his farmers are paid in full at fixed price, upfront in cash before the produce leaves the farm gate. “I want the farmer to focus on producing the freshest and highest quality produce and not have to worry about when he’ll get paid, which is traditionally 60-90 days later. I get a cash discount, which immediately makes me more competitive and I get first choice of the produce.”
Today, Cape Crops has two full-time employees and over 10 procurement and sales agents who earn on a commission basis. “Indirectly, we contribute to the employment of thousands of individuals, such as farm workers, packers, cold-room employees, logistics agents who all form part of our value chain,” says Essack.
Cape Crops’ use of technology as a marketing strategy has also given the business an advantage of its competitors. In addition to this, their marketing matrix is tailor-made to accommodate the different regions in which they operate.
“We use my social media pages; Whatsapp broadcast lists and email-newsletters to offer clients the produce we will be shipping for the week. To attract new clients, we use Facebook paid marketing and also send out brochures.”
Essack understands the value of building relationships. By employing a sales agent who focuses solely on building the businesses global network, Cape Crops has built a name for itself in the Middle East, Europe and more recently tapping into other African markets.
“Our key sales agent is a Lebanese gentleman, fluent in both Arabic and English, who helps us to overcome the language barrier with my Middle Eastern customers. His fee is always built into our costs meaning that our margin will never be reduced due to the use of his services.”
On being recognised as this year’s Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, Essack says he is proud to be contributing to the local economy and showcasing South African produce on a global stage.
“I started this company as a student, with limited knowledge and experience, and have established myself as a young person of colour in an industry traditionally dominated by seasoned Afrikaans men. I plan on taking the global industry by storm and giving the world a taste of Africa.”
Visit http www.capecrops.com for more information.