Reikemetse Agricultural Co-operative
Something smells good in Ma Selina’s kitchen! Pots are steaming, pears are poaching, tomatoes are cooking and the Reikemetse fruit and vegetable bottling business is in full swing.
Based in Potsane, a small village on the outskirts of Thaba Nchu, Reikemetse means “we stand on our own” in Sesotho, and this is what the 10-member co-operative is striving to do.
It’s evident the ladies are proud of their work. They’re all kitted out in neat, white uniforms and a bowl of soapy water and towel have been set on a chair outside their kitchen. No-one comes in without washing their hands.
Chairperson of the co-operative, Ma Selina tells us that they buy their ingredients at wholesale prices and can make up to 50 bottles a day. They have a range of products, from bottled vegetables like tomato relish, beetroot, carrots and atchar to bottled pears, each neatly labelled and branded with the Reikemetse logo. As with most of the small businesses we’ve spoken to, their challenges include securing regular contracts and accessing transport.
But the ladies are positive and resourceful about creating a better future. Ma Selina says, “I have learnt a lot since we started in 2008. When we meet together as women, we can stand together as a united front. We can advise one another and our families can survive. Then we are able to help other people in the community.”
In 2010 the Old Mutual Foundation invested R179 000 into the Reikemetse Agricultural Co-operative, enabling it to purchase materials and construct a three-roomed factory.