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Livestock Wealth now valued at R100m, plans African expansion

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 25 May 2021
Ntuthuko Shezi, cow executive officer of Livestock Wealth.
Ntuthuko Shezi, cow executive officer of Livestock Wealth.

Crowd farming platform LivestockWealth is planning to establish presence in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region over the next year after growing its asset valuation to become a R100 million business.

The fintech platform says it has seen increased demand for its investment products and services, particularly since the onset of COVID-19, as the pandemic fundamentally re-shapes the world of investment portfolios, with more South Africans seeking financial security.

Developed by KwaZulu-Natal-born electro-mechanical engineer Ntuthuko Shezi, in 2015, Livestock Wealth offers people with no access to land, time or skills the opportunity to own livestock within a professionally managed farming operation.

Through the Web and mobile application, investors are able to invest their money in cows and agricultural food products, rather than in unit trusts, shares or exchange-traded funds.

In a telephonic interview with ITWeb, Shezi, who calls himself ‘cow executive officer’ of Livestock Wealth, explained the company, which started with 26 cattle as investment assets in 2016, has since added around 400 cattle on the platform, with a single investor owning as much as R3 million worth of assets.

“COVID-19, for us, has been a blessing. In March 2021, we saw our best month ever, due to an acceleration brought about by the pandemic where we doubled our monthly targets,” notes Shezi.

“This speaks to people being more conscious of the need to put investments aside for the future. Before COVID-19, most people thought they would live forever. Now we’re even seeing a growth in the younger age groups who are interested in investing.”

The cattle farming technique provides a reliable source of income to farmers, who are responsible for the cattle’s care, while allowing those who don’t have access to land to own their own cattle and produce healthy, organic, hormone-free beef.

Shezi points out that as the company grows, the ultimate mission is to be present wherever there are farmers in Africa, with an initial focus on the SADC.

The SADC is rich with livestock resources, encompassing around 74.9 million cattle, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

“Our short-term goal is that in 12 months’ time, we should be in three or four other countries across the SADC region. We see huge potential, especially in countries such as Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia, which have small-scale farmers who could benefit from our innovation and maximise the overall value of their farm, increase their profit margins, while providing investors in those countries with an alternative and viable investment option,” adds Shezi.

Under-valued African cattle

The Organisation for Economic Development Agricultural Outlook 2019-2028 forecasts that beef production is expected to continue to grow by 17% in developing countries by 2028, with countries such as SA, Brazil, Mexico and Pakistan accounting for 72% of additional beef produced worldwide.

“In SA alone, there are about seven million cows owned by small-scale farmers but those cows are under-valued until an investor is willing to invest in them. This will require the cow to be well taken care of, well-fed, and when the hidden value of each cow is unlocked, this changes the farmer’s mind-set about their overall business and its potential,” notes Shezi.

The crowd farming platform also owns land and in 2019 expanded its offerings to includeagricultural assets that can be owned by potential investors, including sugarcane plants, macadamia trees and maize plants.

Last year, Livestock Wealth introduced Farmers Club Meat Box, an e-commerce service that allows customers to purchase and pay for grass-fed beef via its online platforms.

The company is in the process of introducing a new mobile app, Livestock Wealth MyFarmbook, aimed at helping cattle farmers anywhere in SA to create a visual profile of their farms, and manage and monitor their cattle online.

“On the app, farmers will be able to keep a digital record of their stock, their crops and the overall management of the farm. We’re saying throw away your notebook and pen, and we’re giving them a better way to manage their farm. We have also added a layer which is the cattle tracking device, allowing farmers to digitally track and monitor their cows using a digital collar which is placed on the neck.”