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06/06/2017

Entrepreneur's Passion For Farming Breeds Success

Loyiso Pepeta, owner of Copperfield Farm in Kokstad, lives by these words, "Do what you love and love what you do,"

The dairy is the result of a dream Pepeta, 44, had and which was fulfilled by Ithala Development Finance
Corporation, KwaZulu-Natal's provincial development agency.

Pepeta, formerly the Chief Financial Officer of Ingquza Hill Local Municipality, fondly recalls the short turnaround time for his loan to be approved by Ithala - "four months to be exact and it was all systems go".

Copperfield Farm currently supplies supermarkets and wholesalers across KZN and the Eastern Cape with dairy milk, maas and yoghurt.

A factory is currently being built to include long-life products such as butter ghee and to sterilize milk for which there is demand.

The company, which Pepeta co-owns with his wife and uncle, has been in operation for five years and currently affords 40 people a living and boasts an impressive 810 hectares of land on which more than 200 cattle graze.

Pepeta is the son of a pastor and was born in Bizana in the Eastern Cape. It was when he joined Ntabankulu Junior Secondary School that he discovered his love for numbers, choosing commerce as a subject which proved to be instrumental in his later life.

He matriculated from Mthatha Technical College and studied accounting at Port Elizabeth Technikon. He later acquired his BTech in accounting from Durban University of Technology.

"I have always enjoyed farming and being out in the fields. Even though I went to university and got a qualification, I always wanted to be out in the open and not office-bound. "I love grazing and mechanisation, and enjoy the fact that I can still apply my accounting skills set to the business."

At some point in Pepeta's career, he decided to change his BMW for a Range Rover but gave careful consideration to the debt this would impose on him. He decided that a tractor would be a better option for
him.

While still employed fulltime, he put the tractor parked at his home in Bizana to work on land in rural communities for the benefit of trusts and cooperatives. The objective was to generate income and fast-track his loan instalments.

"After my office job from 6pm to midnight, I would work on the land to generate revenue and build capital towards buying my own farm." The father of four - two boys and two girls - guards his family time closely.

His daily wakeup call is at 4am and his task list for the day ranges from tackling delivery notes, verifying production, checking machines to overseeing the milking process, counting stock and signing off on delivery. "In my journey as an entrepreneur, I have learnt to not be influenced by peer pressure. I have also learnt to handle extreme amounts of pressure as everything depends on me."

He attests to being a man of integrity. "Whatever I promise to do I will surely do it and if, for whatever reason, I am not able to do it anymore I will let you know upfront."

His words of wisdom to the youth are: "Find what you love and are passionate about and work hard to make it a success".

Pepeta is one of four category award winners in Ithala's 2017 Business Achiever Awards. He scooped the "Agriculture Business of the Year" award.

For more information on Ithala visit www.ithala.co.za

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