Gene Likhanya: Nurturing Growth Through Community Collaboration

 Gene Likhanya: Nurturing Growth Through Community Collaboration

Gene by Avocado Plantation. One section of Avocado trees are expected to yield next year.

Gene Likhanya:

Founder | CEO | Madimbo Agri Group Holdings | Board Member Fio Agri Group | Agripreneur | We Solve Problems 

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When asked for his best advice to new entrepreneurs, Gene Khorommbi Likhanya emphasized starting small and seeking mentorship. 

“Entrepreneurs…tend to want to take over the world in a day. It doesn’t work like that.” 

He continues to explain that growth occurs gradually, side-by-side with mentors and your community. Mentorship, he stresses, is critical. “If I did it by myself I would have done it Gene’s way, and trust me; it’s too fast…it’s not well thought out, and it will crash and burn.” Walking with those who have failed many times is seen by Gene as one of the most valuable assets of any entrepreneur. “They won’t let you make the same mistakes that they have.”

Having been brought up in a rural town in Venda, Gene has always been “intrigued” by things that people don’t do often. This led him to forsake the security of cash crop farming and venture into macadamia orchards, an unheard-of concept in his community. In his latest business venture, Phyla South Africa, Gene seeks to place Africa at the forefront of technology by sustainably improving the quality of life for those living on the African continent.

“We are [here] to serve communities and remain humble” are the guiding principles fueling Gene’s visionary dream. These principles form the foundation of his entrepreneurial ventures, which are firmly established in love for his people. 

The roots of Gene’s inspiration can be traced back to his Uncle, who lost everything to become a macadamia farmer. “ I drew a lot of inspiration from that; what vision could he have seen… and he paid such a heavy price for it,” Gene reflects, “I think that’s really what created a big catalyst in me. I want to farm high-value products that a lot of people are not farming.”

Gene Likhanya in front of a plantation of banana trees on one of his community farms.

This inspiration led to passion. Passion for his community, farming, and finally his business. “My need to develop all these farms and go bigger and bigger is really by seeing how things were done and how I would do it differently.”

This passion to solve community problems, led the Madimbo Agri Group to place a special focus on empowering women. Gene grew up observing mothers – both his own and those in his community – waking up before dawn on a winter morning, just to climb into a van, and be at work on time. 

If there is one thing Gene wants to be remembered for, it would be the legacy and change he has brought to his community. This, without a doubt, is driven by his humble attitude and consideration for others. “Business people – entrepreneurs – can be extremely egotistical. And that is also a ticket to downfall.”

Teagan Cloete

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