When Sekhoto completed her BCom in Financial Accounting, she went on to work in the finance sector for seven years before calling it a day.
She changed track when she joined her father in co-managing the family’s 2 100ha commercial farm. At the time, they had financial support from the government, but unfortunately they didn’t have a good mentor or a suitable business plan.
This influenced her to reach out to the agricultural industry. “I joined the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa), an association assisting black farmers. It was still a new organisation then, with no tangible assistance for members. I was an active member and eventually was invited to join the leadership as the national Afasa Youth Chairperson. This helped me realise that the challenges I faced on the farm were the same as those of other young farmers,” she said.
Sekhoto moved on to co-founded GrowthShoot, which aims to empower youth in agriculture and in 2017, following the liquidation of her family’s farming business, she began running it on a full-time basis.
“GrowthShoot aims to link young farmers with opportunities such as access to markets, finance and training, with the help of agri-business partners I forged relationships with through my position at Afasa, as well as via the Facebook group that I set up,” she said.
As part of her efforts, she established the Annual Afasa Young Farmers Summit (now in its third year), which enables young farmers to gather with stakeholders and discuss the issues they face.
She added that this year, they have embarked on a provincial roadshow to prove to stakeholders that many young people are interested in agriculture.
“I was able to gather proof dispelling the myth that youth don’t want to farm.”
Other highlights of her career thus far include being invited by organisations around the world to share her experiences and expertise in empowering youth in agriculture.
“It has been such a humbling experience to have people wanting to listen to me and get advice on the things I do on a daily basis. As I tell everyone, I’m making it up as I go along! I am thrilled to see and hear that so many people are inspired by my work.
“Who would’ve thought that all this would happen when I left my job in finance! People thought I was crazy.”
Sekhoto aspires to make GrowthShoot become a conglomerate in the agricultural industry, as it has created new markets and innovative ways of increasing youth participation in the industry.
She advises that in order to achieve African success, you need to first look around you and see what little things you can do to change or improve your situation or that of others.
“It has been astonishing to me to see how all the little things I have done have come together in such a big way. If each one of us could do the same in our own spaces, then in years to come, there will be so much success all around us, but it starts with each of us as individuals.”
Sekhoto is one of five South Africans being celebrated by Metropolitan for successes which have been propelled by the support of others.
Demonstrating how supportive gestures and helpful advice can enable African success, Metropolitan’s #WeSeeYou campaign celebrates the stories of ordinary people who have achieved success thanks to the encouragement and assistance they have received.
At the same time, the campaign empowers financial services consumers to attain similar successes in their own lives.