From unemployed to aquaponics: Food security and the passion that is Gugulethu Mahlangu.

Matshepo Koape interviewed Gugulethu Mahlangu in the latest GIBS Entrepreneurship Development Academy Slaying in Your Lane Fireside Chat, sponsored by Fintech company ProfitShare Partners.

An aquaponics horticulturist at FinLeaf Farms and founder of #FarmSpacesAFRICA, Mahlangu realised that the barrier to entry for most young black farmers is access to information.

Once she collaborated with the award-winning online hub FoodForMzansi, #FarmSpacesAFRICA grew rapidly, with Mahlangu introducing esteemed guests to Africa and beyond.

Employed at FinLeaf, one of the biggest aquaponics farms in Southern Africa, as an aquaponics horticulturist, Mahlangu works with tilapia fish, microgreens, herbs, and vegetables, using smart technology to produce food and address food security in Africa.

She started her farming operations while running a construction business, in true serial entrepreneur fashion. “However, if you ask who I am, I have to say I am a student first. There is always more to learn, particularly about my passion, which is agriculture. My key interest is learning, each and every day,” she notes.

Asked what ignited the fire in her soul, Mahlangu says she was at home and unemployed before starting her construction company. “This is a very important part of my story,” she asserts. “It shows how an entrepreneurial spirit seeks out opportunities where many would let their lack of industry knowledge stop them.”

When she noted an influx of workers in her small town in Witbank, Mahlangu also saw the lack of housing for new residents and workers. “I didn’t know anything about the industry, but I knew that with the right team around me, I could make things happen.”

However, agriculture, she says, is her calling. Dealing with being a woman in male-dominated industries proved challenging, where being undermined and having your intelligence questioned is a fact of life. Far from forcing a surrender, this made Mahlangu “step up her game”.

Take a look at the video where this exceptionally bright, talented and unstoppable young woman sees challenges as opportunities for personal growth and strength, going back to school to equip herself with the skills she’d need to take on the hard world that is agriculture.

Mahlangu’s talk is inspiring, informative and a must-watch for anyone keen on aquaponics, agriculture and plain determination and grit. Rarely will you see a young entrepreneur so dedicated to sharing the “hows” with anyone keen to learn.

From unemployed in Witbank to awards and deals with large FMCG companies, with the future of food security in the hands of young achievers like Gugulethu Mahlangu, South Africa and the continent can look forward to ongoing innovation in the agri sector.

See the video here: and join Gugulethu Mahlangu on Twitter Spaces at #FarmSpacesAFRICA