South Africa’s best start-upper of the year: Matome Motalane

Matome Motalane, named the best start-upper of the year under 3 years in SA.


Imagine leaving a stable job to start your own business, knowing very well that there are considerable risks with that decision. Of course, most of the time the risks are worth the benefits of pursuing your entrepreneurial journey.

Matome Motalane, 33, graduated from the University of Venda in 2015 with a BSc in Biochemistry and Microbiology. After graduating he landed a job as a Pharmacy-store Clerk which he resigned from after three months and then became a Medical Technician at a medical laboratory. 

After two years of working as a Medical Technician, he resigned. 

“I realised that this was not for me so I resigned and registered my own company Mangau Animal Feeds in 2019. The primary goal was to become an entrepreneur so that I could implement the ideas I have, innovate to solve social and economic problems”, he said.

A lot of entrepreneurs give up or fail, for a lot of other reasons such as running out of money. Also because entrepreneurship is not easy, it requires years of hard work, and long hours with no identification to become successful. 

“I was not aware of what I was going to encounter after resigning to follow my dream, I should have saved money for my entrepreneurial journey because this journey is not easy”, said Motalane. 

Becoming the CEO of Mangau Animal Feeds

Mangau Animal Feeds is a start-up company that specialises in the production of organic animal feed. Motalane, the Founder and CEO of the company said he found out that most of the disease outbreaks, disorders, and abnormalities that develop in people are a result of exposure to chemicals. 

He then decided to formulate and introduce his unique product into the agricultural sector, which is organic animal feed. 

Motalane asserts that the company adds value to South Africa by strengthening food security. He would like to see Mangau Animal Feeds grow into a global company, “We want to solve challenges of disease outbreaks globally, ” said Motalane. In addition, he wants the company to eradicate starvation and malnutrition. 

I am always looking for opportunities and networking with people

In 2019 he came across a Facebook post on the mLab page, the post was calling for start-ups to apply for incubation at AgritourZA. Motalane enquired about this call but the applications had already been closed. 

He managed to get in touch with AgritourZA’s Project Coordinator, Choene Makhasa, and was instructed to apply for the next cohort of AgritourZA Limpopo. 

In early 2020, Motalane was onboarded in AgritourZA. The programme was going well until around May when his operating equipment was stolen. “I was left with nothing but just the idea in my head”, he added. 

AgritourZA’s Project Coordinator, Choene Makhasa, reached out to Motalane to follow up on his progress and was then brought back on board. 

AgritourZA helped Motalane develop an application for his business and was trained to pitch and present in a minute. “This app is very crucial for the success of my business, if I did not have this app I would not have something to show”, said Motalane.  

He said he knew that he wanted to win AgritourZA, so he prepared rigorously to pitch his business to the judges of the programme and won. Motalane said no words could show how thankful he was to Ms. Makhasa for her undying patience and support.   

After winning AgritourZA, Motalane applied for The SA Innovation Summit Inventors Garage competition. The Inventors Garage is an opportunity for entrepreneurs with a working prototype or product from proven concept to pre-commercialisation to gain access to funding or incubation, market exposure, and business support.

With an ecstatic laugh, he said, “To my surprise, they announced me as the winner”. 


In the same year, 2020, he was a finalist of the Top 30 Agritech Challenge and was shortlisted for the Tholoana Enterprise Programme Top 100, implemented by the SAB Foundation.

Pitching: The powerful engine to the biggest achievement

This year in April, Motalane was named the ‘StartUpper of the Year’ under 3 years by Total Energies. The StartUpper of the Year Challenge by Total Energies nominated 15 candidates from 32 countries across Africa. 

The finalists pitched and defended their ideas or startup in front of a local jury, to determine 3 winners in each country. The goal of this initiative is to support African entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35. 

“I have never been this excited, this is my first biggest achievement. It means a lot to me, especially because I come from the rural areas where a lot people look up to me”, said Motalane.