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Parys youth savour the smell of success

Written by More Matshediso

A youth-owned business is making a success of its rose garden. Pule Letsobe, Tshepo Metsa, Thabo Modise, Neo Malebo and Refiloe Malebo are running a lucrative rose garden in Parys, Free State.

Roses do not bloom quickly, they take time to blossom and grab attention with their beauty and natural perfume.

And just like the roses they grow, it has taken time for five young people from Parys in the Free State to make their project a success.

They have established a rose garden under the name Women Empowerment Project.

The project was established about five years ago by seven young women to provide them with an income through local sales and to supply roses to the annual Madeira Flower Festival in Parys.

The festival showcases the beauty of flowers and their role in the environment.

Unfortunately, some of the co-founders left the project before it could become a success. They were replaced by other young men and women.

Refilwe Malebo (33) joined the business in 2017 to assist her sister.

“We specialise in a variety of roses, including Belle Rouge, Intense, Free and Loyal, Lesotho Prince and Fifty Shades of Grey. All of them are petalled differently, with different colours and natural perfumes,” explains Malebo.

The project uses two tunnels, 30mx10m in size, to plant and grow the roses.

In 2020, the project received support from the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs to improve it operations.

“We received funding worth R1.5 million, which we used to revamp our tunnels. Initially our tunnels were covered in plastic, but over the years it got torn and worn-out and direct sunlight badly affected our products. We replaced the plastic with poly carbon and added one new tunnel.”

Malebo adds that the funding was also used to improve security by building an electric fence; renovate the cold room, which is used to store roses once they are cut; and install an irrigation system and 18 solar panels.

The youth-owned business sells the roses to locals in Parys and also has a fixed-market contract with a florist that supplies companies in Johannesburg.

“We also sell the roses to restaurants, funeral parlours and event organisers,” she says.

For more information about funding from the department, contact 051 861 8515.