Meet Manoj

“Never overlook or downplay the small differences you can make, it all counts,” says Manoj Seonath, Head of Agro Processing and Agriculture at the IDC (Industrial Development Corporation.)

Agriculture is a key sector of the South African economy. It is a sector
which has the potential to create many jobs, and assist with transformation
and inclusivity in the South African economy, as well as contribute
towards food security.

This sector is critical not only to South Africa, but the rest of the economies across the continent.

“My message to delegates coming to the Indaba is to use this platform
to share and shape ideas that can advance this key industry. I
look forward to hearing and sharing views on how we can confront
challenges such as the impact of drought on both emerging and existing farmers, among other ideas.”
Investment is key to the success of the agricultural sector, which is seeing demand increase exponentially, while profit margins remain tight and infrastructural, technical and financial support can be slow
to follow.

“Agriculture is a long-term investment. With the correct management, technology and support, it can yield good returns over the long-term. It is simply not a quick money spinning investment,” Seonath continues. This is where the IDC comes in.

The IDC is a South African state-owned, self-funding development financing institution, that has been in existence since 1940. Its role is to enhance the industrial capability of South Africa, and the rest of the continent, thereby boosting economic growth and industrial development. It does this by funding entrepreneurs starting new enterprises or supporting companies that want to extend existing operations.

It provides finance to a wide range of agricultural businesses. In doing so, the IDC increases the number of entrepreneurs in the sector, creates more jobs, and importantly assists with import replacement,
increasing exports, technology advancements, and ensuring transformation and inclusivity in the sector.
“It’s imperative that we nurture a new crop of black industrialists capable of creating jobs in this industry.”
The IDC provides finance in the agricultural processing space in the following value chains:
• Horticulture
• Meat and dairy processing
• Field Crop processing
• Aquaculture
• Forestry

It takes a value chain approach on the above, and although the IDC mainly funds in the agri-processing space, it will look at financing backward integration as well, where it forms part of the transaction
and is linked to a processing facility.

“We need to work together to ensure that we develop the agricultural sector to fully realise its benefits.”

A chartered accountant by profession, Seonath has been with the IDC for 14 years, serving in various roles in that time including Senior Dealmaker, Regional Manager KZN and Head of Operations and Regions.

He is passionate about job creation and industrial development in South Africa.

“To work for the IDC allows you to see the fruits of your labour, in that the businesses and projects we create are tangible. More rewarding is to see people who did not have jobs, get jobs because of our intervention and efforts.”