SaveAct
Sixolile Mkoliswa (left) and Senamile Mbatha spent a year interning with SaveAct after completing their training as agriculturalist .

Interns upbeat after fruitful time with SaveAct

The end of September was the final day of internship for Senamile Mbatha and Sixolile Mkoliswa,, who have been with SaveAct for a year.

Mbatha comes from a rural home near Ulundi and has an advanced diploma in Agriculture (Plant Production) from Mangosuthu University of Technology. During her internship with SaveAct she was based in Margate, KZN, where herfocus was mainly on advising farmers or members of SaveAct about crop issues encountered on their household vegetables gardens.

Mkoliswa is from Port St Johns and has a four-year degree in Agriculture, majoring in Crop Science. He spent his internship in Matatiele, KZN where his duties included advising farmers about farming techniques and systems. He also helped pilot new approaches and tools, including a digital system for communicating with and supporting farmers.

Both said they gained a lot more than they expected from their internship.

“My experience at SaveAct overwhelmed my expectations because there is so much that I have learnt which wasn’t even part of my job description,” said Mbatha. “I have gained a lot of knowledge and skills which will help me in the near future.” In addition, she said, it was “always refreshing” to hear that someone had overcome challenges due to her advice.

“Working with SaveAct has taught me a lot about money, including budgeting and planning before you use money. Seeing and hearing about what even unemployed members have achieved through saving has made me realise that no matter how much you earn you can always start something with the little money that you have.

”SaveAct is not only about teaching people to value money, it is the light of achievement and progress in people.” Mbathaintends to start saving for the business she hopes to own one day.

Mkoliswa said he had learnt a lot about diverse new areas such as data collection and systems, communicating with people and livestock production. “When I came into SaveAct I did not have any knowledge of livestock production, so that’s one of the most important things that I learnt, specifically poultry production,” he said.

“In terms of crop production, I got a lot of experience at SaveAct. Theory is not always the same as practice and working with farmers and seeing their production made me realize that things are different in the field. There are many factors at play that need to be considered.”

The highlight for Mkoliswa, however, was learning about savings. “Those that have successful enterprises — most of them started with money from savings groups. The savings programme has changed a lot of lives.”

Mbatha and Mkoliswa will both be staying on with SaveAct as staff members in the Monitoring, Evaulation and Learning (MEL) department.

Thanks to Future Farmers and the agricultural sector education training authority (SETA for helping to make this all happen.