How young South African Women are leading the way to #GrowingASweetFuture

As South Africa enters Women’s Month, Tongaat Hulett is proud to celebrate women who encapsulate our vision towards growing a sweet future. By ensuring that from farm to factory, women on our team are exposed to a culture that fuels growth, celebrates diversity and champions equity – all core priorities at Tongaat Hulett. 

Doreen Mbonambi, is one of our very best. We sat down with her to discuss her personal and professional development and how she has made her name for herself in the male-dominated field of agriculture.

She first saw the opportunity in farming while living on her childhood farm with her 6 brothers and 2 sisters. During this time, Doreen’s grandmother farmed and sold fresh vegetables to the local surrounding communities, which further gave rise to her passion for agriculture. 

It is these valuable lessons from her childhood that helps her thrive in her role as a farm manager for Doornkop Sugar Estate Trust and Simamisa Farming, which is leased through Tongaat Hulett.  

Doreen’s career started in 2013 when she joined Doornkop Sugar as an admin clerk. When reflecting on her career so far, she counts Miles Garnett and Marc Dunlop as her role models. Under their leadership, she decided to unlock her potential and pursue a sugarcane farming course, which she completed with a 95% pass mark. 

Her relationship with Tongaat Hulett and Doornkop Sugar Estate has grown over the years. Through this partnership, she has been given the opportunity to manage cane production on a large scale, with access to state-of-the-art equipment and a large fleet of vehicles. In her own words: “Without the involvement of Tongaat Hulett this would not be possible on a small farm, and my knowledge would not be so widespread”. 

Doreen has faced a number of challenges as a young female farm manager. These, however, have not deterred her. She remains focused on debunking the stereotype that agriculture is a career path exclusive to men. 

Her journey has also been filled with moments of pride and numerous achievements, including obtaining her driver’s licence, growing her administrative skills, and deepening her knowledge of farming. The well-being of her staff is vitally important to Doreen.

From the smallest tasks to the biggest projects, Doreen stays committed to #GrowingASweetFuture by ensuring that everything she does is set at a high standard.

Even with all that she has achieved, Doreen still has more to offer the industry. Her sights are set on farming macadamia nuts, essential oils and seeing more women join her in farming. Her message to women is simple but poignant, “let’s grab the bull by its horns by taking over the farming industry and proving to the world that we are capable of bringing change.” 

At Tongaat Hulett, we celebrate Doreen’s success and passion and remain dedicated to ensuring that women like Doreen thrive in our industry and continue to co-create environments conducive to #GrowingASweetFuture.