Mhani Gingi’s Rose Geranium Farm proposal earned a place as a finalist in the University Startup World Cup 2015 in Copenhagen.

Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network was one of 50 top teams from around the world selected as finalists in the University Startup World Cup 2015 competition which took place in Copenhagen from September 14 to 18 2015. A Mhani Gingi team consisting of Lillian Masebenza, Founding Director, together with Ian Kosasa, a student from Michigan University in the United States of America who volunteered as an intern at Mhani Gingi in 2015, travelled to Copenhagen to take part in the competition. The teams gathered in Copenhagen to present their ideas, meet investors and other finalists, and compete to be voted the best student startup in the world. All the finalists gained access to a development programme offering knowledge and services to help them to move forward with their bright ideas. Read more at and .

Rose Geranium Farming Proposal

The Rose Geranium Farming proposal which earned Mhani Gingi Social Entrepreneurial Network a place as one of the 50 top teams – out of 250 000 students from 4 000 universities – in the University Startup World Cup 2015, is an extension of Mhani Gingi’s environmental work under its Flagship Programme. With this proposal, Mhani Gingi aims to employ disabled and handicapped workers by developing an organic Rose Geranium oil farm in one of the disadvantaged communities in the greater Cape Town area.

The Rose Geranium oil production farm to be developed will be used as an incubation model not only for Rose Geranium farming, but also for organic compost production and to create Rose Geranium products such as soap. One of the objectives of this project is to employ both abled and disabled workers and so stimulate the local economy in an area where unemployment and poverty levels are high.

The 30‐hectare Rose Geranium farm that Mhani Gingi aims to establish will incorporate a wheelchair ramp to enable wheelchair‐bound individuals, despite their disability, to work comfortably and efficiently on the hanging vertical gardens. The aim is to employ four wheelchair‐bound women for the first years, and to increase this representation as the Rose Geranium Farm expands.

South Africa offers conditions that are well suited to growing the Rose Geranium organically. Weather conditions are optimal for the highest quality produce while the country already has infrastructure for selling internationally. Good margins are offered on an already profitable industry. In addition, local buyers are willing to pledge to buy the inventory.

The Mhani Gingi team

Other members of the Mhani Gingi managerial team involved in this project include: Dr Earl Starr, Mhani Gingi Trustee with a Doctoral degree in Chemistry, who has knowledge of plants and spearheaded the Mhani Gingi Flagship Programme where the Geranium Farm concept originated and out of which it will operate; Educationist Joan Wright, Mhani Gingi Trustee, who heads the Social Responsibility arm of Mhani Gingi which supports vulnerable groups in society, including differently abled people; and Tabisa Mahlathi, Manager of the Flagship Programme. They all brought technical and business skills as well as their experience to support the Rose Geranium Farming project further.

The Rose Geranium farm will empower disabled women

The Rose Geranium Farm that Mhani Gingi plans to establish aims to make a significant impact on the empowerment of disabled people. The proposed Rose Geranium Farm will provide disabled workers with access to agriculture and farming; skills and livelihoods; income; and human wealth.

“There are almost three million disabled people in South Africa. Mhani Gingi will empower those who have been put into society at a disadvantage, in an environment that does not grant them equal opportunity,” said Ian Kosasa, student from Michigan University in the United States of America and volunteer at Mhani Gingi, when he presented the Rose Geranium Farm business plan at the finals of the University Startup World Cup in Copenhagen. “There is low labour market absorption of persons with disabilities, with 27,5% of the working age people unemployed. R

“Disabled females are more marginalised in terms of employment compared to disabled males. The World Health Survey showed employment rates of 52,2% for men with disabilities, but only 19,6% for women. Evidence (suggests) that women with disabilities seem to suffer from multiple discrimination in terms of working opportunities, and this is yet another proof that the Rose Geranium Farm will empower these women in more than one way,” Kosasa said.

Alleviating poverty

The Rose Geranium Farm proposal falls within Mhani Gingi’s mission to eradicate unemployment leading to chronic poverty. Mhani Gingi empowers people to become creators of wealth and shareholders in their own businesses by providing then with innovative and sustainable business solutions that contribute towards alleviating poverty in local communities. The Mhani Gingi mission aligns it with both the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the South African National Development Plan.

Millennium Development Goals

“We cannot overlook the disturbing link between disabled people and poverty any longer,” says the Rose Geranium Farm business plan. “Disabled individuals remain largely invisible in the work regarding the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and it is estimated that over 426 million individuals with disabilities are living under the poverty line in developing countries.”