[Startup Interview] Elton Greeve, CEO, EMG Agri Solutions, South Africa
EMG Agri Solutions, a South African startup offers business planning, management consulting, strategic management, and specialized project management for agri-businesses. The focus is on providing farmers and agri-businesses with specialist advisory solutions, founded on practical and experience based solution offerings. The startup’s CEO Elton Greeve elaborates.
Introduce your company
EMG Agri Solutions is a South African based business that was founded in 2018 and offers advisory and planning services to the agricultural sector. It is one of few such businesses that offers business planning, management consulting, strategic management, and specialized project management for agri-businesses. The business is primarily focused on providing farmers and agri-businesses with specialist advisory solutions, founded on practical and experience based solution offerings.
Who are the founders?
Mr Elton Greeve is the founder of the business. He has 24 years’ experience in the agricultural sector, and identified the need for a business that offers advisory services to the agricultural sector in general.
What is the professional background of the founder?
The founder of EMG Agri Solutions is a South African, and spent 20 years in government, before entering the private sector a few years back, specifically the agricultural/agri-business sector.
How is EMG Agri solutions financed?
The company was initially financed by the owners own contribution, but has since managed to obtain operational funding that is assisting the business, although not sufficient to finance all operations.
Why did you start your EMG Agri solutions? What opportunities did you see?
I started the company as I have a passion for agriculture, and the potential it has to change people’s lives, but is an important driver of development within a country like South Africa. Further to this, I identified a need within the sector for a business that offers a solution-driven package for the sector. Farming in general has for decades been seen as only a primary producer, but this has changed, and agriculture is now seen as a business; assisting producers transition from primary producer to the agri-business space is one of the key drivers of the business.
What problem or problems does your company solve?
My business offers solutions in terms of business planning and its associated challenges, it also offers maangement consulting in the form of business structuring or restructuring within a strategic framework. It also provides solutions to farmers in the form of effective business plan development in order to access financing. A further challenge the business resolves is that of transformation within the sector, and solutions to this is offered through specific and tested modalities.
What makes your company unique?
My company offers solutions based on experience, at two levels, namely government experience and private sector experience, one of the key challenges in the agricultural sector is bridging the gap between government policies/regulations, and its implementation within the sector. My company offers a unique solution is assisting farmers and agri-businesses traverse this difficult area. Quite often government policy and regulations are technical and cumbersome, my business offers a service that assists farmers/agri-businesses overcome this gap.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are mainly farmers. agri-businesses, & financing institutions - as each of these play a critical role in the agricultural sector, and enabling linkages between these makes good business sense.
What in your opinion are the dynamics of the agriculture sector?
The dynamics are numerous, as the industry is faced with a myriad of these, mostly risks associated with natural occurrences (e.g. drought), limited or difficulty accessing operational finance, varied market dynamics - as the shifts are constant in the local and international markets; local and international policy and political uncertainty is also a big factor that creates challenges and dynamics for the sector.
The factor that is most likely to create difficulties is risk mitigation and is one the more serious dynamics to deal with, essentially business planning that includes risk mitigation is key to surviving the challenges faced by the industry.
What does your company need in order to grow?
My business requires greater market access in order to grow, the difficulty is competing with large corporates that either dominate the sector, or have access to resources makes the "playing-field" very difficult. The need to market the business more effectively and aggressively is one of the key challenges that we need to overcome.
What is your growth strategy?
The growth strategy is a 5year strategic framework, focusing on elements within the agricultural value-chain, and how to harness these. In order to grow, the strategy must be informed by current and projected changes in the sectors value-chain, as well as technological advancements. As the sector is an ever-changing environment, it is essential to be up to date with sector-developments and align the businesses service offerings to these changes. International trends also have a large impact on the sector, thus the need to be up to date with such changes.
Do you have plans to scale the company geographically? If so what’s your focus?
Our ambitions are to grow in the South African and African spaces, but also develop a footprint in the European and Asian markets in order to grow sustainably, the business will require both a local and international footprint in order to grow effectively.
What are your plans for the coming 12 months?
The plans for the current 12 months is to follow the effects of the covid-19 pandemic, and the impact it is having on the sector - and through this find mechanisms to assist farmers and agri-businesses to overcome these.
The covi-19 pandemic has not only affected my business but many others, but is does provide the opportunity to undertake a critical analysis of how the pandemic is effecting businesses - and how best to overcome these.
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