Mobile butchery addressing meat shortage in rural areas

“My customers can’t afford to travel to the nearest towns to buy meat and I help them by coming to them”

By Fundiswa Nkwanyana

Deon Assegaai is the Founder of Mr Meaty, a Kimberely based mobile butchery that makes it easier for township and rural communities to buy meat. “My customers can’t afford to travel to the nearest towns to buy meat and I help them by coming to them,” he said.  

 

Food insecurity in rural areas 

Assegaai’s grandmother struggled to access affordable and quality meat and she always asked him to bring meat when he visited from the city.  She was so happy with the quality of meat he came with that she told family and friends. He received many orders because of this.   

 

Most residents in Kimberley’s townships, rural areas, and informal settlements struggle to access quality and affordable meat. According to the United NationsHuman Development Report, about 11 million South Africans live on less than R28 a day, which is around R800 per month. The report also found that nearly 4 million South Africans are in a state of multidimensional poverty. Alongside this, access to food is a human right under both national and international law.  

 

Servicing forgotten communities 

 

Seeing first-hand how the community, he grew up in was struggling to access meat products inspired Assegaai to start a business to address food insecurity.    

 

The demand for his services kept increasing and he decided to resign from his job as a liquor brand manager and start a mobile butchery. “My conscience didn’t allow me to continue promoting alcohol when I could see the negative impact it has, I wanted to do something positive,” he said.  

 

In 2018, he invested his provident fund into starting his mobile butchery business to ensure that people have access to meat. He purchased a cold room and started selling meat from his grandmother’s house. His customers travelled from far to buy his meat and he noticed that many of them were elderly people who used public transport.  

 

He noticed that travel costs cut into his customer’s budget, and they also couldn’t buy meat in bulk because they don’t have electricity and fridges.  “Listening to my customers frustrations and challenges inspired me to change my business into a mobile butchery,” said Assegaai. 

 

 

Entrepreneurship is challenging  

 

Even though he is happy that his business makes it easier for people to access quality meat, running the business has its challenges. “Due to budget constraints, I purchased a secondhand truck that often has costly mechanical needs,” he said.   

 

The business has two trucks that are loaded with meat products every day to drive around communities selling and delivery meat in and around Barkly West, Ritchie Schmidtsdrift and various other towns in the Northern Cape.   

 

The business has faced multiple challenges including petrol price hikes, loadshedding and limited working space. To ensure the business continued to grow, despite these challenges, Assegaai diversified by creating multiple streams of income.  

 

The business is based in an area with extremely hot weather conditions, and he purchased two ice machines to make and sell ice. “I also hire out cold rooms for people hosting events and I also assist clients that want to deliver their meat,” he said.  

 

The right to food is linked to one’s right to life and dignity and requires that food be available, accessible, and adequate for everyone without discrimination. Social entrepreneurship ventures like Mr Meaty contribute towards local economic growth, create jobs and improve the lives of people living in forgotten communities. 

 

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