Keke Mphuthi in her element, surrounded by her chicks.

Keke Mphuthi in her element, surrounded by her chicks.

She is not only beauty with brains, but she gets the job done.

One job she has recently taken up is of being an entrepreneur.

Now chairing the businesswoman seat, Dieketseng Mphuthi, affectionately known as Keke, prides herself in growing in poultry farming.

Although she enters the teams meeting sounding a little bit under the weather, her voice comes alive when we start talking to her about what’s been keeping her busy lately.

“It is a lot of work! I don’t think I anticipated the amount of work [that starting a business would come with] but however, so far, so good. I’m very happy, I won’t lie.”

Within less than three months of its operation, Goyapele Poultry Farm, the business she co-owns with her husband now supplies two Roots butcheries in Pretoria and two franchises of a restaurant.

The two lovebirds bought a farm where they house over two thousand chickens from which they make assorted poultry products with the help of two female animal scientists.

Read More | Zikhona Bali introduces herself as a farmer-actress after buying 150 chickens with stokvel payout

Speaking to Drum about the move to have female farmers only, she says, “The narrative that we’re trying to push as Goyapele Poultry Farming is to help young woman in agriculture and farming. It’s a very white-dominated industry so my partner and I collectively decided that our goal and our aim is to make sure that we empower young girls [in farming].”

Growing up, Keke’s grandparents had livestock and chickens. Her partner has a similar farming background and that’s why with their joint knowledge, a poultry business made sense.

Not only this though. “Also, there’s a very huge shortage of chicken, the amount of nutritional value that black people especially those in poor communities get from meat is a concern on my end because it’s a thing that the government and a lot of people actually don’t look into.”

She adds that it’s harder for impoverished communities to get organic food due to their socio-economic status.

For this reason, she approaches butcheries that supply these communities or that are more affordable for these communities. Another reason why she chose to go into poultry is because she wanted to offer 100% pure chickens.

“With our chickens, we grow them from a day old all the way through to them being over two kgs (kilograms), go through for slaughtering, nothing about it is processed so it’s all organic chicken, no brine injected.”

The chicken farming journey has not been easy though especially with loadshedding being an everyday feature; something that has driven a lot of poultry farmers out of business.

“One thing I can tell you is that chicken farming is a very capital intensive industry and chicks, especially baby chicks when you start growing them from that young age of them being a day old, the medications that you need to use; the probiotics, the antibiotic and the food is very important. But more, the structure and the home of the chickens play an intensive huge role.”

Keke Mphuthi with partner

The actress and her partner grow their chickens with love.

To prepare herself for the journey she wanted to embark on, she did thorough research that lasted over a year and attended workshops that educated her about the ins and outs of it all. This helped the couple with deeper insight in the industry as opposed to what they were exposed to at face value.

Not only did they end up sacrificing their home generator to keep the chicken home powered and the chickens themselves, alive, with longer hours of loadshedding looming, the actress says they are looking into solar energy to keep them going.

“Chickens are like little babies, they literally are very needy. They are needy 24/7 all the way until they are at least three weeks old and then they [grow] a bit more independent. The first two to three weeks are very intensive, you really don’t get to sleep much because you need to stay awake for anything that could possibly happen. If they overheat, it’s going to be a problem. They get too cold, it’s going to be a problem.”

Like babies, their bedding needs to be changed regularly as well because if it gets too wet, the chickens could get sick.

“They cough and they sneeze. It’s literally being a mom from scratch but now you become a mom to 2900 babies that run around. And they fight among themselves.”

Even with how much it has required from her, Keke still sounds like she wouldn’t trade the role of chicken motherhood for anything.

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When she engages with young farmers, she often tells them that they should be in a position of willingly making provisions and sacrifices for the life and growth of the chickens.

Ever since the birth of her son that was preceded by a fallout with Ferguson films, the mother and now businesswoman has gotten her groove back in the acting scene.

She has been acting while busy with the business.

“Acting is my first love. I’m not going to take it anywhere but it’s nice for one to not be codependent with regards to your career choice or rather your acting, to keep the lights on. Having financial freedom plays a very big role for myself and my partner as parents to be able to afford our kids, outside the norm.”

Like the name of their business, Goyapele, its all about going forward and upward from here for Keke as she tells Drum that she’s working on having the poultry business exporting chickens to other countries in the next five years.


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