Entrepreneurs are born, not made

By Alexander de Coning

Please note that the views of individual authors do not necessarily represent the views of FairPlay.

This article is part of our 2022 Annual Report, which includes a FairPlay year in review, a 2023 forecast by the South African Poultry Association, an assessment of the state of infrastructure in South Africa by Donald MacKay and a profile on poultry farmer, Clive Tigere, and his new hatchery in Makhado.

When one thinks of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, you would have to agree that these individuals exhibit a knack for business, coupled with an innovative attitude from a very early age. Such is the case with Clive Tigere.

Clive Tigere’s entrepreneurial spirit saw him join the poultry industry – selling day-old chicks from a farm in Limpopo – while he was still a high school student. A proud memory for Tigere as he recalls selling more than 1000 chicks per day on average at the pinnacle of his enterprise, wondering what dizzying heights this venture could reach.

Following high school, Tigere furthered his education at behest of his mother – his heart was with his chicks, but his mother insisted that his head be in the books.

“After you studied, you can do whatever you want, but you have to finish your studies first,” Tigere recalls his mother’s instruction. The University of Cape Town gained a new student, and Tigere graduated in 2016 with his BSc in Statistics and Analytics.

He joined McKinsey & Company to put his newfound knowledge to the test, but the chicks kept on calling. It wasn’t long before Tigere gave up his corporate gig in Gauteng to pursue his true passion – his poultry business back home. And so, in 2016, Clive and his mother, Dr Caroline Tigere, started KC Hatchery in Louis Trichardt.

Having successfully set up the farm, the ongoing battle was to secure a consistent supply of high-quality eggs. He would finally solve the problem of securing eggs in 2018, when the FairPlay team introduced him to Country Bird Holding’s managing director, Marthinus Stander. The two became fast friends, and Tigere left Stander’s office that day with an offer of a secure, constant supply of quality eggs. 

Between 2017 and 2019 though, Tigere himself noted the high incidence of dumped poultry products flooding Limpopo’s markets, and the negative impact it had on the local informal poultry industry, as farmers simply couldn’t compete with dumped product, and many were no longer able to support their families as a result. Tigere highlights that once anti-dumping duties were implemented in accordance with the poultry sector master plan, there was a visible uptick in the local informal sector. 

Accordingly, by 2020, Tigere’s KC Hatchery was selling more than 19,000 day-old chicks each week, with demand for more. Alas, if it wasn’t enough for the market, it certainly wasn’t enough for Tigere.

While Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the rest of the planet, Clive took the time to plan for the hatchery’s future, more specifically, its expansion. Besides opening a few storefronts locally to sell the overflow of chicks and feed, he also applied for a grant from the Industrial Development Corporation, as well as funding from the South African Poultry Association to get an environmental impact analysis (EIA) on the planned expansion of his hatchery. 

While the Poultry Association had the funds for the EIA in Tigere’s bank by the end of the week, it would take the IDC another year to process and approve his expansion grant. Finally, in October of 2022, the joint venture between KC Hatchery, Bush Valley Chickens, and Country Bird Holdings was made manifest when the newly constructed Northroost Hatchery in Makhado, Limpopo came online. 

The modernised facility is able to produce more than 208,000 quality day-old chicks each week; a boon for local economy and local broiler farmers alike, who rarely had consistent access to day-old chicks until now. 

Clive set out to build a business to the betterment of his home and his community, not an uncommon dream among South Africans as witnessed by the continued growth of the informal sector – a focus for Tigere and his partners: “The informal poultry sector tends to fly under the radar, although it represents so many opportunities for growth and wealth creation. I hope that our example can serve as a model that government could apply to make this happen for other entrepreneurs too, so that transformation can happen organically,” says Tigere. 

When one considers a remarkable individual like Clive Tigere and the way he works with various players throughout the industry to realise a vision, it illustrates the potential of empowerment to achieve true transformation. 

South Africa’s poultry industry has invested R1.5-billion in the sector, with the intention of investing another R900-million by the end of 2023 to empower more black entrepreneurs and emerging farmers. 

Tigere’s inspiring success story is but one in the rich tapestry of South Africa’s transforming poultry industry.